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(3 pages total)

Page 3 - Enjoying Being Pushed Around

Learning To Take Blows

In taiji class we begin teaching students how to take blows by starting with a simple exercise. Standing with feet shoulder width apart, knee slightly bent, shoulders relaxed, head straight, (You should be rooted to the ground so that you can bend but not move.) we at first gently push the arms, hands, and shoulders. The arms should be limp and relaxed without any tension, so that when someone picks up your arm and lets it go it should drop like a ton of bricks. The idea is when the shoulders are being pushed the hips should flow from the pushing almost like a rag doll, letting the energy flow through you. At first it is very difficult to let your arms and shoulders relax to the point of letting them be moved by someone else. Most students either stiffen up or fall over from a simple push. But after a while you will be able to relax so that you are what we call rubber man, moving anywhere you are being pushed. As we advance we push on the legs, hips, head, stomach, neck, and other parts of the body, while we stand with our eyes closed. This is more difficult because you do not know where the strike is coming from. Then we go from slow, one pushing, to fast, many people pushing, to faster, using two hands, feet, and knees. This allows a student to feel a punch, kick, and pushes and see how to distribute the energy coming towards them.

Few students realize that in learning taiji one must learn to empty different parts of ones body; so that if you are being attacked and you get hit in the shoulder, arms etc... you give the other person nothing solid to hit. This concept works for both the physical and mental attacks everyone encounters. These exercises help students get over the fear of getting hit. After sometime practicing this, students find themselves becoming more aware of their bodies and the space around them. Seniors find they regain their balance and do not fall down as much, and those that do fall, remain relaxed and limp and rarely hurt themselves.


Art Of Letting Go

As we practice these exercises and improve our physical bodies, the energy will sink into our mental, emotional and spiritual bodies as well. As our taiji deepens we learn how to deal with the world and people in a new way. Through our taiji we can let anger, fear, doubt, frustration, impatience and other negative emotions not stick to us. We can let those things move by us without letting them become part of us. When we feel anger towards our children, friends, mates, co-workers, pets, the bus drivers, the cashier at the store, car drivers, or the million and one things we direct our anger towards, we can never solves the problem we may have with this anger. In fact the anger really hurts us more than it affects the other person, we seem to hold to our anger for hours, days, months and years. And when we get mad at things like cars, TV sets, computers, etc... we have really lost our center and gone over the edge. Slowly this anger we feel eats at us and we feel it in our body and soul; our stomach hurts, our blood pressure goes up, our whole being is ripped apart by this anger. If we could learn to use our taiji and let the anger go, we could find new ways of solving our problems and be happier people. This is also true when others are angry with us. By not letting the anger stick to you, people have a hard time staying angry at you. Again by using our taiji we can learn to disperse anger coming towards us. A simple test is the next time someone is angry with you and they express their anger just simply agree with them with an open heart. Dont argue with them or try to defend yourself or change their minds about how they feel. You will notice if you agree with them they can not hold on to their anger for very long. In taiji if you dont give someone something to push against they lose their balance on many different levels.

The first real rule in taiji is try not to have any conflict with anyone. To use our taiji to overcome the most difficult opponent, this just doesnt mean in physical way. In our world today our true fight is with ours and others emotions. In taiji we are always learning how to let go of ourselves to connect with the Dao. As our practice deepens we can see that life is a process of learning how to let go of many things and move on. As we all age we can see that everything must be let go of from homes, cars, friends, mates, children, etc... and even our bodies and minds. Taiji helps us understand and embrace this slow and wonderful process. Life will always push, shove, hit and at times knock us on our asses. The question is how will we deal with it? Can we move with grace and style and stay on our feet, or will we fall down on our faces afraid to get up again?


Ralph A. Johnson has been studying and teaching taiji, yoga and meditation for 20 years. He is currently working on a book about taiji. He is looking for personal stories from people about how taiji has changed their lives. Send stories to 110 Church St., Guilford, CT 06437.

Reprinted from ©Qi Journal, Summer 2002 issue

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