Chen Style Tai Chi Rule # 1
The ultimate goal of Chen style tai chi is to understand and manifest this one simple rule:
“Never try to control anything outside of yourself. When you do, you are out of balance”.
Defining balance: stillness
When a scale is in a state of perfect balance, it is still – there is no movement. If we put something on one side of the scale it will move until it is balanced, and then it will become still again. So we can say that balance is represented by stillness. In the practice of tai chi, this perfectly balanced, still state we call wuji. Also, in our daily lives, wuji is the stillness which results when we are in a state of perfect balance.
When we practice tai chi, we begin with stillness, or wuji. We stand for a few moments and focus to relax and balance our position, until we are still. We also use this time to allow our mind to become quiet.
Resistance: a dead end
If an outside force is applied to us from another person (for example a push), this state of stillness/balance is disturbed, and we no longer feel comfortable. When we feel a force applied, our normal response is to resist it, and in this way try to maintain our position so that we do not get pushed. But in doing this, we are in a kind of struggle situation, and do not feel comfortable. Also, if the outside force is applied by someone larger and physically stronger than us, most likely we will not be able to resist it for long, and we will get pushed!
Cooperation not competition
Rather than focusing on trying to control that outside force, ask yourself, what do you need to do, how do you have to move to go back to that balanced, still state? The movement that you make will be determined entirely by the pressure you feel from the outside force that is being applied, and it will take you back to that balanced state. This is based on the sensitivity which is distributed equally throughout your whole body. You will go with the force, not against it . So you are not focused on the outside force, you are focused on what you feel inside.
“There are no movements that are as precious as stillness, no words as precious as silence”.
The principle here is: “Never try to control anything outside of yourself. When you do, you are out of balance.” So the person trying to push you is out of balance because they are trying to control you. If you respond by resisting or fighting against their push and try to stop them, then you are trying to control them controlling you. So you are both out of balance!
The best way to deal with this kind of situation is to focus on what you feel inside rather than focus on that outside force. Just concentrate on how you must move to restore your balance. Focus inside and ask yourself, how do you need to move to go back to that balanced state? What is interesting about this is, your movement will always be the exact correct movement, and it will be the correct defense against the push or any other external force that is applied to you!
To sum up, when you are still and balanced, this is what we call wuji. When an outside force is applied, you move in a way to go back to that balanced stillness, or wuji. This movement that you make to return to stillness is tai chi movement.
Tai chi movement is always manifested in circles and spirals. This spiraling movement is called silk reeling force. This spiral movement is what allows us to return us to the balanced state/stillness, or wuji.
Wuji to tai chi to wuji: From stillness to movement, and back to stillness. In essence, this sums up the whole art of tai chi!
I encourage you to study this principle in your tai chi practice. And share with others. This is a life principle, not only used while practicing tai chi This applies in our daily lives as much as it does in martial art training.
In your daily life, how many times a day do you try to control another person with your words or actions? How many times a day do you notice another person is trying to control you with their words and actions? And how do you respond to this control? Now you can choose to use this tai chi principle in daily life!
Click here for a scientific article on the effects of tai chi on emotional health, anxiety, and stress