Saturday, August 04, 2007

Taiji and Kendo

Yesterday, during pushing hands class, we had Japanese visitors. One of them is a kendo practitioner. Having done a little bit of kendo myself, I was trying to explain to him about taiji and pushing hands. While explaining to him, I made a small discovery, that taiji is similar to kendo in that, to win, you must not fear losing. One of the common mistakes in kendo is to always be on the guard, for fear of exposing yourself and letting your opponent land the first blow. While you may not lose if you always keep your guard up, you are not going to win too. And worse, if your opponent is faster or stronger, he can either slip past your defence, or simply plow through it.

The trick to win at kendo is to actually allow your opponent to attack you. When he is attacking, he cannot defend. And that is when you strike. When he attacks, he opens himself to attack. You use that opening to attack. But first, you must be willing to let him attack. You must be ready to lose, should your attack on him fail and he lands the first blow.

I explained this to the Japanese visitor, hopefully he sees the common ground that taiji shares with kendo in terms of thinking. I would think that the way of the warrior is to be ready to lose. Only then are you ready to win.

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