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In a 2008 Stanford University experiment taijiquan expert Chen Xiang generated a force 14 times his body weight when striking.
0-60 mph in less than 3 seconds. Think about this for a minute...
Let's imagine that Chen Xiang weighs 10 stone. Then his strike was 140 stone and took less than 3 seconds to reach 60 mph. Wow!
The power generated by Chen Xiang is incredible and beggars comprehension. Performed under scientific conditions, it deserves considerable admiration and respect.
Being hit by such an exponent is unimaginable.
A few other guys were watching
a teacher of taijiquan. Never had I witnessed such deceptive power. He
performed the art with enormous dignity and force, and I realised I was
seeing something which, although I could not understand, I had to respect.
Mr Wang was at least fifty, and probably older. His power was fantastic.
I once asked Nakayama if he thought karate was the best of the unarmed fighting arts. He answered that he thought it was. In that case, I countered, what about taijiquan? Nakayama sensei laughed, and with a smile he said, "For human beings, karate is the best way. But there are some men who are superhuman, and perhaps a few of the taijiquan sensei are just that."
(C W Nicol)
Taoism is not aiming to make you into a superhuman. It is far more modest. It simply aims for the student to become a 'real human'.
A 'real human' is simply somebody who is fully conscious. It does not involve the acquisition of superpowers.
Instead of stumbling through life in a semi-conscious state, the Taoist seeks a condition of exceptional alertness and physical harmony.
This is not seen as been an elevated state of being, but rather our 'natural' state.
Taoism encourages people to return to their natural, vital, healthy condition through the moderate practice of taijiquan and the daily study of Taoist texts.
In Taoist terms, being a homo sapien (a real human) means:
Aware of what is taking place right now
Seeing what is right in front of you
A mind free of opinions/thoughts/beliefs/fashions/trends/influences/politics
An agile, supple, responsive body
Clarity of consciousness
Excellent coordination, mobility, nimbleness, dexterity
Balancing activity with rest, relaxation and sleep
The ability to look after your own health, diet and wellbeing
A sense of perspective
Spontaneity, change and growth
Healthy sex drive
Healthy brain activity
Healthy joint function
Balanced body use
Stamina and endurance
From The Way of Chuang Tzu:
Minds free, thoughts gone
Brows clear, faces serene.
Were they cool? Only cool as autumn.
Were they hot? No hotter than spring.
All that came out of them
Came quiet, like the four seasons.
The perfect man employs his mind as a mirror.
It grasps nothing; it refuses nothing.
It receives, but it does not keep.
Can you be like an infant that cries all day without getting a sore throat?
Or clenches his fist all day without getting a sore hand?
Or gazes all day without eyestrain?
You want the first elements?
The infant has them.
A wild bird nesting in the deep forest needs no more than a single branch;
a wild animal drinking from a river takes no more than its fill.
Alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, medication, dietary, psychological and emotional pollution can all serve to numb the senses.
A cloudy dullness stifles consciousness. The individual becomes clumsy, blunt and physically inept. Their eyes are no longer bright and alert. They are semi-conscious: alive yet lost and deeply confused...
What about you?
It can be tempting to regard oneself as being fully-conscious. But are you, really? How frequently do you meditate? How often do you read challenging books that expand your consciousness?
How much time and effort have you invested in your physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing?
In most cases, the answer will be: not much.
Don't take our word for any of this. Instead, do what the Taoists once did: look to nature.
Animals get their own food; they do not wait for somebody to serve them. You don't see too many fat tigers, bears, monkeys or sharks in the wild.
Men argue. Nature acts.
Nature is uncompromising. It requires the individual to fully realise their potential - to embrace their wit, ingenuity and cunning - or die. Modern society has taken this from us.
People are often weak, lazy and unmotivated; like spoiled children? This has led to a global decline in fitness and a significant increase in obesity, lifestyle-induced medical problems and stupidity.
The range of awareness and efficiency of the Taoist adept is
unnoticeable, imperceptible to others,
because their critical moments take place before ordinary intelligence has mapped out a description of the situation.
• Practical Taoism
• The Science of the Essence
• The Way
created 21 May 1999
Last updated 25 April 2021