Investing In Loss

The famous taijiquan instructor, the late Ch'eng Man Ch'ing is reported to have often exhorted his students to make progress by "investing in loss." This can be understood in a variety of ways depending on your experience with the internal arts. Certainly, the easiest way is to learn from your mistakes. For anyone who has tried to understand any aspect of bagua this is, perhaps, the hardest lesson of all, particularly when it applies to the various two-person drills where it is important to learn to evade as much as block your partner's attacks.

From a teacher's perspective it can be amusing to watch two students practising together if both of them tend to be defensive by nature. The temptation is first to refuse to acknowledge that you have made a mistake; then to look for someone else to blame; and, finally, come up with an excuse for why you failed. For example, your partner knocks you off balance and your first reply is "No, I didn't move my feet!" When you finally admit that you did lose your balance, the next reaction is often "My partner used too much force!" and the last bit of ego defense is likely to be "Well, I wasn't ready!"

To correct such tendencies, the first step is to recognise that there are things you need to work on in yourself that are hindering your progress. Seems like common sense, but it is amazing how many students have trouble identifying their problem areas. Sometimes they cannot see the problems; quite often they refuse to! Now, investing in loss is hard enough in solo work, but it gets harder still when someone is repeatedly beating their way through your defences, punching you, or pushing you vigorously into a wall.

In this case, it is almost impossible to rationalise your weaknesses—you either learn from them, refuse to return to that kind of training environment, or lose your temper and escalate the training to the level of "Oh, yeah! Take this!" All are counterproductive.

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Healing Properties Of Tai Chi

Healing Properties Of Tai Chi

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