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Most martial arts cultivate aggression. It is a natural, human, easy response to violence/confrontation.
Tai chi does not use aggression. It calls upon the student to be emotionally calm and composed. This is not so easy, but is far healthier: physically, psychologically and emotionally.
At the heart of aggression is the need to present a strong external image. When you are hurt, you pretend that it did not hurt. When you are upset, you hide your feelings.
You cultivate and maintain a stoic image of indifference.
Those who use force soon
And what can be accomplished with exhaustion and struggle?
An image is a front, a facade. It is not real. The effort that you spend in developing your image is wasted; because no two people will respond to it in quite the same way.
How do you gauge its value?
What does pretence reflect? Fear. When you live in perpetual fear, your life becomes a pantomime of self delusion and worry.
You seek approval and reassurance from those around you - empowering others - allowing them to determine whether you are happy or not.
It may seem 'manly' to use force, but it can also be stupid. Why exert yourself needlessly?
Our approach to tai chi seeks to circumvent force and avoid exertion; it advocates yielding and softness rather than hardness and strength.
The word 'aggression' has the connotation of hostility; it suggests violence, provocation, attack and the intention of causing harm. This is not the tai chi approach to life or self defence.
We aim to find accord with others, to move in balance with them, to avoid interference and judgement.
When you impose your will, you over-commit. It is far easier to take something in the direction that it already wants to go.
There is no collapsing or flaccidity in tai chi; it is vibrant and alert, responsive and adaptive, so you must learn to give-up yourself without losing your integrity.
This is not easy for most people because they are mentally hung-up on ideas, opinions and perceptions. Yielding is what defines tai chi - in many ways it is tai chi's greatest skill.
Anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.
18 April 2005
Last updated 16 June 2023