Real human

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Legendary skill

In a 2008 Stanford University experiment tai chi expert Chen Xiang generated a force 14 times his body weight when striking.
0-60 mph in less than 3 seconds. Think about this for a minute...
Let's imagine that Chen Xiang weighs 10 stone. Then his strike was 140 stone and took less than 3 seconds to reach 60 mph. Wow!


The power generated by Chen Xiang is incredible and beggars comprehension. Performed under scientific conditions, it deserves considerable admiration and respect.
Being hit by such an exponent is unimaginable

A few other guys were watching a teacher of tai chi. Never had I witnessed such deceptive power. He performed the art with enormous dignity and force, and I realised I was seeing something which, although I could not understand, I had to respect. Mr Wang was at least fifty, and probably older. His power was fantastic.

I once asked Nakayama if he thought karate was the best of the unarmed fighting arts. He answered that he thought it was. In that case, I countered, what about tai chi? Nakayama sensei laughed, and with a smile he said, "For human beings, karate is the best way. But there are some men who are superhuman, and perhaps a few of the tai chi sensei are just that."

(C W Nicol)


Taoism is not aiming to make you into a superhuman. It is far more modest. It simply aims for the student to become a 'real human'


A 'real human' is simply somebody who is fully conscious. It does not involve the acquisition of superpowers.
Instead of stumbling through life in a semi-conscious state, the Taoist seeks a condition of exceptional alertness and physical harmony.
This is not seen as been an elevated state of being, but rather our 'natural' state.

Homo sapien

Taoism encourages people to return to their natural, vital, healthy condition through the moderate practice of tai chi and the daily study of Taoist texts.
In Taoist terms, being a homo sapien (a real human) means:

  1. Calm

  2. Still

  3. Inner quietude

  4. Composed

  5. Aware of what is taking place right now

  6. Seeing what is right in front of you

  7. A mind free of opinions/thoughts/beliefs/fashions/trends/influences/politics

  8. An agile, supple, responsive body

  9. Physical sensitivity

  10. Clarity of consciousness

  11. Excellent coordination, mobility, nimbleness, dexterity

  12. Balancing activity with rest, relaxation and sleep

  13. The ability to look after your own health, diet and wellbeing

  14. Emotional awareness

  15. Psychological flexibility

  16. Longevity

  17. Vitality

  18. A sense of perspective

  19. Spontaneity, change and growth

  20. Wisdom

  21. Humour

  22. Humility

  23. Good memory

  24. Mindful

  25. High energy

  26. Healthy sex drive

  27. Healthy brain activity

  28. Good focus/concentration

  29. Muscle tone

  30. Healthy joint function

  31. Good balance

  32. Balanced body use

  33. Stamina and endurance

  34. Creativity

From The Way of Chuang Tzu:

Minds free, thoughts gone
Brows clear, faces serene.
Were they cool? Only cool as autumn.
Were they hot? No hotter than spring.
All that came out of them
Came quiet, like the four seasons.

The perfect man employs his mind as a mirror.
It grasps nothing; it refuses nothing.
It receives, but it does not keep.

Can you be like an infant that cries all day without getting a sore throat?
Or clenches his fist all day without getting a sore hand?
Or gazes all day without eyestrain?

You want the first elements?
The infant has them.

A wild bird nesting in the deep forest needs no more than a single branch;
a wild animal drinking from a river takes no more than its fill.


Alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, medication, dietary, psychological and emotional pollution can all serve to numb the senses.
A cloudy dullness stifles consciousness. The individual becomes clumsy, blunt and physically inept. Their eyes are no longer bright and alert. They are semi-conscious: alive yet lost and deeply confused...

What about you?

It can be tempting to regard oneself as being fully-conscious. But are you, really? How frequently do you meditate? How often do you read challenging books that expand your consciousness?
How much time and effort have you invested in your physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing?
In most cases, the answer will be: not much.

Taoist propaganda?

Don't take our word for any of this. Instead, do what the Taoists once did: look to nature.
Animals get their own food; they do not wait for somebody to serve them. You don't see too many
fat tigers, bears, monkeys or sharks in the wild.

Men argue. Nature acts.

Nature is uncompromising. It requires the individual to fully realise their potential - to embrace their wit, ingenuity and cunning - or die. Modern society has taken this from us.
People are often weak, lazy and unmotivated; like spoiled children? This has led to a global decline in fitness and a significant increase in obesity, lifestyle-induced medical problems and stupidity.


The range of awareness and efficiency of the Taoist adept is unnoticeable, imperceptible to others,
because their critical moments take place before ordinary intelligence has mapped out a description of the situation.

(Thomas Cleary)

Worth reading

Practical Taoism

The Science of the Essence
The Way

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Page created 21 May 1999
Last updated 16 June 2023