Friday, July 10, 2009

Taiji Mentality

A lot about taiji comes from the mind. After all, one of the basic principles of taiji is to use the mind to control the body (用意不用力). So the correct mentality towards applying taiji is very important, since the mind controls the body.

A common misunderstanding (I would think) is that taiji is about yielding (see previous post about yielding vs following) to the opponent, so that you don't resist him. I would think the correct mentality is not about yielding. Rather, it is about not resisting. But how not to resist? It does not mean to yield, to let your opponent has his way. Rather, in order not to resist, you listen, then follow, then lead your opponent in the direction that you want. Starting out passive, you end up taking the lead. The correct mentality is to remain passive until your opponent makes a move, but all the time you tell yourself to look for an opening to take the lead. You need to end up like water, flowing into every nook and canny available.

Martial arts is about defeating the opponent. That usually means you have to push forward (not to be taken in the full literal sense). If you need to move back to gain an advantage, by all means go ahead. But you need to press forward (need not be taken literally, it can be a mental kind of thing) at some point in time in order to defeat your opponent. If you keep running away, at best you avoid losing.

So the mental model to adopt is to be like water, be like the sea, flowing into every nook and canny, crushing itself upon the shore, retreating only to strike again.

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