You turn around and expect to know

You turn around and expect to know what you will find. So much so that you don’t even look anymore. You walk always looking forward. You rarely turn around to see where you’ve been. You’re even bored by the thought. Maybe we would pay better attention to our surroundings if we knew a mountain lion was stalking us. Or a bear, perhaps a snake while we sleep, or death itself. We don’t see it coming. We don’t even look.

This tendency applies in martial arts—you cannot always say where your opponent will be or what he will do. If you are superior perhaps, but even then the practice always would have been to take nothing for granted and to focus on what is being presented in the fleeting moment. It could be anything, and uncertainty calls for vigilance, observation and preparedness. Be prepared for unknown things when you turn to see what is there, even if it turns out to be the expected. Quick wits and reflexes can stem from such awareness and understanding.


A “what is tai chi” note

Tai chi is part of the matrix of interaction with life. For some it is the matrix because it redefines the application of so many activities in life, including the essential acts of breathing, standing, walking, sitting, even the state of just being. You can cultivate a tai chi mood that you carry through your day. It is as integral to your day as dressing, putting on shoes and combing your hair.

tai chi remind

Photo by Pixabay on

We think we’re standing up straight, but we’re not. We’re listing to the side. We think we are strong but we’re not. We think we’re agile but we’re not. Our thoughts about ourselves are not what it looks like from the outside. Maybe we should look at ourselves through the eyes of tai chi. No judgment. Just look. Adjust accordingly. Practice on.

The beginner always, curated

Perpetual learner, deliberate practice, repetition without repetition, intellectual humility, openness to new ways of learning. … They don’t mention taijiquan, but in fits the bill in this BBC article.

“How a ‘beginners mindset’ can help you learn anything”

Zhong Ding

Central equilibrium. This is the Chinese word I know it as—Zhong Ding. I assume readers are familiar with it.  I came to understand that central equilibrium is more than alignment.

Alignment has a linear quality that we can become aware of in our bodies. It is two-dimensional, a line between two points. Equilibrium, which we can also become aware of, is orientation in relation to our environment. It is multi-dimensional. It is how we balance ourselves in response to the pressures from outside, of which there are many.

Almost every move we make is a response to some external force in our environment. The environment could be the physical environment near us or it could be a more abstract environment — distant and foreign.

Part of the release, and the relief, of letting go of things that are not essential to our well-being, which is a tai chi practice, is distinguishing between what it’s necessary to be concerned about and what is not.

We confront the overwhelming pressure from outside with great risk. We cannot defeat it, but we can relax and let it be. We don’t have to be concerned that we must respond. Yin instead of yang. Let yang take care of itself. Focus attention on yin.

So the act, as simple as it may be, of letting something go—tension, stress, anything at all—is emancipating. Our bodies respond accordingly and become satisfied, contented, rested.