More from T’ai Chi Ch’uan For Health and Self-Defense; Philosophy and Practice by Master T.T. Liang.
This week I’ve read the T’ai Chi Ch’uan Treatise attributed to Wang Chung Yueh, Ming Dynasty as translated by Master T.T. Liang, and with his commentary. For my post this week I thought I’d share some of my favorite parts- might be a little short as I’m short on time. The kids were in camp again this week which has been challenging for me as some days I work the whole time they’re there- they have a good time though (art camp this time) and that was the last week of it this summer. Tomorrow we’re leaving for a Rainbow Gathering in Vermont but we’ll be back in time for me to attend our next Hagsaeng Naebu meeting! Which is exciting! I can’t believe it’s coming up and summer is turning to late summer already.
The T’ai Chi Ch’uan Treatise begins:
T’ai Chi (The Supreme Ultimate) springs from Wu Chi (The Limitless). It is the source of motion and tranquillity and the mother of Yin and Yang.
Master T.T. Liang: To stand still or motionless is called Wu Chi; to start moving is called T’ai Chi. Wu Chi creates T’ai Chi; T’ai Chi includes Yin (insubstantial) and Yang (substantial). Yin and Yang transform themselves into all the manifestations of all things in the universe. So T’ai Chi is the mother of Yin and Yang.
The Treatise continues:
In motion they separate; in tranquillity they fuse into one.
Master T.T. Liang: When you practice T’ai Chi, as soon as the mind has the intention of moving, the movement will be sent immediately to the whole body and the Yin and Yang will be developed and separated into two. When you stand still, the Yin and Yang will fuse into the one and return to the original Wu Chi.
Later in the Treatise:
The fundamental point is to forget oneself and follow others. But most people misunderstand it and sacrifice the near for the distant.
Master T.T. Liang: When you engage an opponent in combat, you must follow his movements and take no initiative of your own. Old Master Yang Ch’eng Fu often said, “If you follow others, your body will be light and nimble but if you take initiative, your whole body will be clumsy and confused.” The T’ai Chi Classics say, “If your opponent does not move, you do not move. At his slightest stir, you have already anticipated it and moved beforehand.” “His slightest stir…” means that your opponent is already moving so that you can find his defects and take this opportunity to attack. This is the accurate and correct technique. If you take initiative of your own, you must move your hands and feet up and down, back and forth in a state of confusion, looking for the opponent’s defects in order to attack. If you do this, it will be easy for the opponent to detect your defects and knock you over. So this is an inaccurate and incorrect way. Now let me cite an example to illustrate the point. When a cat sees a mouse in the distance and is ready to catch it, the mouse does not move. The cat does not move either but watches, appearing peaceful and quiet outwardly, but inwardly alert and ready to attack at any moment. When the mouse, ready to escape with its life, makes the slightest stir, the cat springs upon it, catches, and holds the mouse in its mouth. I have often seen this when I was young; the cat never missed even once. WHen the mouse’s body stirs ever so slightly, the cat has already anticipated it and knows where the mouse is going to escape. It then runs in a short-cut way and intercepts the mouse. In the Art of War [by Sun Tzu] this is called, “Dispatching troops later, but arriving first (through a short-cut).” It is a different story when a dog tries to catch a squirrel. As soon as it sees a squirrel, the dog looks very nervous and tense and begins to bark, giving the squirrel plenty of warning. The dog then immediately runs to the squirrel, not noticing whether the squirrel is moving or not. As soon as the dog reaches the spot, the squirrel has already escaped. The dog, dumfounded on seeing that the squirrel has disappeared, gives a few more barks, and wonders why it could not catch the squirrel. The squirrel looks down from high in the tree and seems to chide the dog, “Don’t bother me next time, you can never catch me.” I have seen this many times in a park in New York City and the dog has never once caught the squirrel.