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Use mind not force

Perception is the process of acquiring, interpreting, selecting and organising sensory information.
Our ability to use tai chi rests considerably upon our capacity to accurately perceive and respond to reality. Meditation is the condition of awareness in which 'self' is lost in being.
The barrier between self and other fades. When self is lost, reality is found, and we begin to see what is - rather than what we want to see.

I Ching

The Book of Changes influenced the development of tai chi and resulted in 8 of the 13 methods: the centre of tai chi.
As a tool, it was designed to encourage a greater consideration of the moment, of the 'here and now'. The following points are relevant to most situations:

  1. Variables

  2. Possibilities

  3. Opportunities

  4. Choice

  5. Consequence

The I Ching asks the individual to allow for these and to act or not act with increased awareness and responsibility.
The Book of Changes has influenced how our tai chi class approaches combat and the way in which the practitioner approaches life.

Why do think it has to want something?



Every given moment contains a wide range of possible options. How we perceive these choices and how we respond will determine the outcome.
Some options will seem favourable now but may later prove problematic. Not every variable can be accounted for and considered - accept this and do not worry.
As your perception improves, you find yourself acting without doubt or confusion.


A punch is only a punch if it hits you. Before that time, it is latent - it has yet to become manifest.
Your actions may be instrumental in determining whether or not the latent punch actually becomes a blow.
When you learn to deal with things as they are developing - sooner rather than later - you cope better.
Failing to see the possibility may render you reactionary rather than responsive; and to counter this you must let-go and 'roll with the punch'.
Certain situations require pre-emptive action, but this is not anticipatory - you respond to the earliest semblance of difficulty - rather than initiate.


Any situation offers a variety of opportunities for action or non-action. You may not see the opportunities at first. This will change as you slow down and your mind becomes quiet.
Within every situation there are subtle latent moments of opportunity where action or non-action may be to your advantage.
In combat, rhythm and timing provide opportunities, and develop the ability to respond.


Encumbered by variables, possibilities and opportunities, your mind becomes confused and stuck. You must learn to empty the mind and trust your intuition.
When you let-go and feel, you develop 'choiceless awareness'. This is a condition of oneness with the situation - where things just happen without thought.
It should feel as though your tai chi just does itself.


For every action you take, there is a consequence. You cannot act without adverse consequences occurring at some point; life would be unbalanced. Accept it.
What you can do is adapt, change, move and respond without getting stuck or caught in the
wish of what might be. Stay rooted in the 'here and now' and deal with what is happening.
Consequences are inevitable, just as death is inevitable. What matters is how you live.

Cord: Who are you?

Blind shepherd: Whoever you think I am or want me to be, I am.

(The Silent Flute)


Our approach to combat is designed to reduce the variables, decrease your opponents options and increase your own.
Exercises such as yielding, san sau and melee are all designed to challenge you to use your body more creatively relative to somebody else.
It is imperative to realise that your responses will naturally create new variables and you must let-go of your desire to control the other person.
Planning and control are illusions that will cripple you in reality. Allow your opponent to do whatever they desire, then re-direct their force. Adapt and change to the situation as it is happening.


Speed lies in the brain, not the hand; it is the
brain that processes sensory input.
If you only train the body and not the mind, your progress will be limited - for you are exercising partially and neglecting the source.
Sifu Waller improves your ability to perceive; honing and sharpening your sensory acuity.

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Page created 2 March 1995
Last updated 10 November 2023