Taichi Thoughts Internet Journal
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-- Zhuang Zi
Currently in its eighteenth year of publication, Taichi Thoughts is a thoughtful and thought
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Some Taichi Thoughts
The Heart of Application An excerpt from: Volume 11, Number 8 (2011)
"To disconnect from the opponent, is to disconnect from Tao."
I noticed that a few of my fellow students have a markedly different approach and feel about them when they do Da Lu - less softness and listening than in their push hands. It first set me to wondering just how much I change from push hands to Da Lu to fencing. Within my limited understanding of myself, I feel pretty similar in what I am doing re push hands and Da Lu; however, whilst I try to fence that way; I often quickly lose it.
You have patiently explained many times that push hands, Da Lu and fencing are all about studying the same thing. My second question to myself is why then do I lose it, especially as losing it never feels good. I came up with the stepping, which revealed my lack of willingness and or ability to stay sitting, though I hear you say the ultimate answer is "lack of faith." As usual you are right.
The great thing is this study keeps getting more and more wonderful..
Sometimes I fence and people snap awkwardly to tap my wrist....which I find to be annoying....it seems totally out of principle....meanwhile...I'm finding myself relaxed and waiting for my fencing partner to walk into my sword with their face, chest, neck or other point of vulnerability....I feel like my sword wants to find a more lethal connecting point, not to slap....is it me overlaying a mindset or is fencing really a means to a more mortal lesson in martial art?
Margaret and Howard are both addressing a real challenge in fencing, the attraction of disconnecting and jabbing. As is true of so much of Taichichan, pursuit of victory over others can lead to an abandonment of principle for the blandishments of short term success. Understanding this problem, this temptation, is the meaning of Investing in Loss.
To examine jabbing in Taichi fencing we can return to the passage in the Taichi Classic that Chen Wei-ming highlighted: "From familiarity with the correct touch, one gradually comprehends internal energy; from the comprehension of internal energy one can reach wisdom." Chen Wei-ming applies the idea to free fighting, but it could just as easily apply to fencing, "Free fighting (or fencing) must be nourished by listening energy... if you can't stick with your opponent, you don't know (how to) listen and your fighting will only be external boxing's blocking and disconnecting."
Taichi is relational. The heart of its application is Sticking. Its attack is a flow from the opponent's strength to their weakness, but it is still based on sticking, it is still relational.
As far as martial efficiency, like most of Taichichuan, it comes over time. The major advantage of Sticking over disconnecting is that it allows one to control the opponent's force while simultaneously taking advantage of it. But for all the effectiveness of correct principle in self-defense, its ultimate value is spiritual. To disconnect from the opponent, is to disconnect from Tao.