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Relax harder?

February 12th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

I’ve been made aware of a student who seems to be taking a “no prisoners” approach to learning Tai Chi, uttering phrases such as “I’ll learn this if it kills me!”

This brings to mind one of those little master-student stories. The student travels a great distance to learn Tai Chi from the master. He is granted an audience, approaches the master and with great enthusiasm, says: “Master, I desire to learn Tai Chi. I will work very, very hard at it. Tell me, how long will it take to master the art?” The Master replies, “ten years”. The student desperately pleads “but Master, what if I put my heart and soul into it, concentrating as hard as possible, infusing Tai Chi into my very being with great effort?” The Master replies, “twenty years”.

I’ll bet you’ve never heard that one before. The point is, Tai Chi is about yin and yang. Making things happen and letting things happen. If the student is all about harder, harder, harder, that’s all yang yang, yang. How will the student know soft? How will the student know yin?

The way to practice is practice often, practice with awareness and intention, but practice gently in order to keep our mind open, able to accept new things, things we didn’t expect to find. If we’re bogged down with expectations, we will only find what we expect to find.

Enough talk. Let’s practice.

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  1. February 12th, 2009 at 19:40 | #1

    I love this little blog. It’s probably one of the most important things anyone can say about learning Tai Chi. When I first started Tai Chi I worked hard and got no where. Now that I have a lot more understanding about the process I find that if I work really, really hard, I just get in my own way. So my approach now is to make learning the internal arts more like a prayer. I don’t overdo it. I learn what I am ready to learn and do not worry if I hit a snag or two. I now consider these internal arts more like a prayer. Now I pray and let things happen. I change all the time, my ideas change, my body changes and the more experience I have the more I realize I’m a changed person, physically, mentally and spritually. Hmm. You are giving me ideas on what to write about in my next blog. I think I’ll go and put on some Charlie Parker tunes and ponder a bit.

    Thanks for a great blog.


  2. SteveR
    February 13th, 2009 at 12:22 | #2

    Thanks for the wise words, Bill. I look forward to reading your blog. Again.

    So you like Bird for ponderin’? Hmm … Corea/Burton does it for me. 🙂

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