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More on strength through non-attachment and non-resistance

Jun 28, 2009 More on strength through non-attachment and non-resistance

As Peter Ralston says, problems between people “are really a parallel to what occurs in martial interaction and in fighting.” Therefore I keep practicing the martial art of t’ai chi daily, and t’ai chi fighting/pushing hands weekly.

The t’ai chi practitioners whom I push hands with on the weekends — right up to the highly skilled — are all selfless and patient in helping me advance to higher levels of martial art ability, and I try doing the same with those who are newer to t’ai chi pushing/sensing hands than I. Yesterday, I learned the most from three advanced practitioners one after another, as the attendees split into two facing lines to move from opponent to opponent around every seven minutes. My first two opponents kept uprooting me two Sundays ago, and were difficult to push; I spent the following days focusing more on rooting into the ground and to relaxing and sinking my ch’i to my tan t’ien. Yesterday, the first told me that some people get frustrated at being pushed; for me, better that I get pushed during practice while strengthening my fighting skills, rather than being treated with kid gloves in practice but without any gloves in the ring by judges, prosecutors, and opposing witnesses. Here are other lessons I learned yesterday: 

– Keep the hands substantial but the arms as soft as string that can send the hands like a rope hurling a rock.

– Treat the opponent’s hands and arm as mine. Therefore, offer no resistance. Do not be limp, either. Imagine the opponent and myself as water from two glasses combined, and not as oil and water combined. These foregoing two lessons underline the importance of being a more effective fighter by detaching oneself from preoccupation with winning or losing, and instead to focus on harmonizing any present imbalance as best as possible. This is the power of non-attachment to winning or losing, to anger or happiness, to comfort or pain, or to praise or vilification. This is about visualizing victory, and then being in the moment to perform at one’s best in the moment.

Relax and sink in advancing and in yielding. The fighter should put his or her mind in his or her hands when pressing and pushing.

– The more the center is in the tan t’ien, the less one can be pushed above the waist.

To dispel any inclination for me to consider the power of t’ai chi as a bunch of metaphysical fictitious hogwash, yesterday I once again experienced with my own senses that there are no tricks involved in advanced practitioners’ ability to withdraw from my push just slightly ahead of my hands reaching their body, because of the ability to sense my movements; ability to stay rooted to the ground and to remove gravity centers from above the waist, to make it hard to push them; and to push me with little force.

Because problems between people “are really a parallel to what occurs in martial interaction and in fighting,” I will continue practicing fighting not only in the courtroom, but also with martial arts. As t’ai chi megamaster Ben Lo says, first and foremost relax and practice.

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