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Human conflict paralleling martial arts

Jun 15, 2009 Human conflict paralleling martial arts

In Cheng Hsin: Principles of Effortless Power Peter Ralston makes total sense in declaring that problems between people "are really a parallel to what occurs in martial interaction and in fighting." If this is so, how can a trial lawyer afford not to learn, study, practice and apply martial arts in court? Choose the martial art you want, but forego martial arts in court at your own peril. 

Early on in his martial arts life, Ralston  discovered — whether he is speaking hyperbolically or not –that when he lost the fear of getting hit while sparring, and stopped focusing on whether he would win or lose, he stopped getting hit. Cheng Hsin: Principles of Effortless Power. Ralston writes that he ultimately reached even greater martial heights, already in the 1970’s, by visualizing his opponents’ next moves before those moves were even made, and then advancing further to moving without knowing why he had moved in that particular way, but then realizing that the particular move gave him a sparring advantage over a martial arts opponent. Ralston also speaks of realizing by the 1970’s about the level of nothingness, connectedness and oneness in which we all live. 

Two weeks ago, I mentioned the foregoing passage about fearlessness of getting hit, to a much more advanced t’ai chi practitioner who had recommended the book to me, after we had been doing sensing/pushing hands. He responded by asking me why, then, was I tensing up so much that morning against being pushed. For the next six days, I focused more of my t’ai chi practice on applying the t’ai chi lessons of fearlessness, yielding, neutralizing, using no more than four ounces to push a thousand pounds, and not deviating from the t’ai chi principles in fighting (e.g., not grabbing with the fingers, and not moving in all sorts of non-t’ai chi directions to avoid being pushed). When sensing/pushing hands the following Saturday with this same fellow practitioner, I was getting pushed less, yielding and relaxing and sinking more, and better understanding the long and never-ending road of learning t’ai chi.

T’ai chi master Cheng Man Ch’ing — whether speaking literally or figuratively — said that a baby laying in the wilderness cannot be harmed by a person’s spear or a tiger’s claw, because the baby knows no fear. Certainly, one finds greater strength by maintaining the fearlessness, joy, and wonder of a child; to do otherwise can be fatal.

In T’ai Chi Dynamics, Robert Chuckrow — one of Cheng Man Ch’ing’s more junior students — theorizes that had Professor Ch’ing lived beyond his seventy-five years (passing away in 1975), he might have taught his most senior students to achieve even higher levels of martial accomplishment, to the point that more force than four ounces would be needed to move an opponent who uses hard energy. Similarly, at the last push hands gathering that I attended two Saturdays ago, another fellow practitioner advised that I follow through more when pushing and pressing against my opponent, in that this extra physical follow-through can be necessary to put the opponent off balance. I imagine all this can be done while still applying all the t’ai chi basics, including being as soft as a water, wind, or cotton, but as devastatingly powerful as a tidal wave, hurricane, or needle hidden within the cotton.

In Cheng Hsin: Principles of Effortless Power, Peter Ralston talks of the power of the muscular softness involved in internal martial arts to being akin to the softness of an electrical wire through which the powerful electricity runs through.

Clearly, a judge will be more willing to tolerate a lawyer doing cross examination, for instance, that appears to use respectful words and a respectful tone of voice, that still packs a wallop. How can a judge, under such circumstances, tell a lawyer to "stop badgering the witness"?

How can clients and witnesses be taught a crash course in using the benefits of the internal martial arts when being cross examined by the opposing lawyer? One of the most important principles for such witnesses to apply is to relax and sink any tension into the tan t’ien, "located approximately two inches below the navel and in the center of the pelvic area." Let tension roll off the back as does water off a duck’s back. Be no worse than centering one’s gravity so that the person is no more likely to fall down from a push than a weeble, which at worst wobbles but does not fall down.

Relaxing and sinking is one of the five t’ai chi principles, with the other ones being keeping the body upright, turning from the waist, separating the weight into yin and yang, and keeping the wrists softly unbent.

Thanks to Lee Scheele for posting the following on relaxing and sinking:

"Attributed to T’an Meng-hsien, 

as researched by Lee N. Scheele

‘The Song of Peng

What is the meaning of Peng energy?

It is like the water supporting a moving boat.

First sink the ch’i to the tan-t’ien,

then hold the head as if suspended from above.

The entire body is filled with springlike energy,

opening and closing in a very quick moment.

Even if the opponent uses a thousand pounds of force,

he can be uprooted and made to float without difficulty.’"

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