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What is composure?

Composure is emotional balance. The ability to remain emotionally stable in the event of crisis or stress can be a valuable quality.
We encounter many things in life that might upset a person, tai chi teaches us to slow down and remain calm.

Inner conflict

Inner conflict prevents outer accord. When the mind feels to be at war with the world, there can be no peace. Peace is not a goal or target; it occurs naturally when activity stops.
Our conditioning, opinions, memories and ideas all conflict with the way things are.

If you cannot control your emotions, you cannot control your money.

(Warren Buffett)

Resistance is futile

People try to shape reality to suit their own ideas, and conflict is caused by the resistance they encounter. Imbuing ideas with emotion creates upset.
In tai chi we soften our minds and bodies in order to remove resistance, we allow emotions to rise and fall of their own accord.


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.

Composure in tai chi

Tai chi is often performed slowly and the emphasis is always upon relaxed, comfortable movement. This slowness is calming, and allows the mind to settle.
When the body naturally relaxes and sinks; the student feels grounded and stable.

Composure in combat

Tai chi trains stress management by encouraging a person to remain calm during vigorous partner work.
As physical contact becomes familiar and natural, a person becomes more relaxed when faced with conflict. Many uncomfortable situations can be avoided by being composed.

Composure in life

Life can be very stressful and demanding. Tai chi and Taoism encourage people to be relaxed and patient in the face of adversity. By avoiding unnecessary conflict, life feels easier.
A tai chi person avoids situations by not getting into them, by dealing with the potential before it becomes a problem.

The Art of War pinpoints anger and greed as fundamental causes of defeat. According to Sun Tzu, it is the unemotional, reserved, calm, detached warrior who wins, not the hothead seeking vengeance and not the ambitious seeker of fortune.

(Thomas Cleary)


Watch this beautiful scene from the wonderful film Moana. Composure and courage:

Page created 1 June 2001
Last updated 16 June 2023