Samstag, 24. Oktober 2015

Text: Tai Chi Chuan and Chinese Strategic Thinking

Being interested in Chinese strategy I just read this text from Francois Jullien in his book Detour and Access:

Military strategy was much more than a specific technique in ancient China. It reflected some of the most radical elements of Chinese thought and informed many other disciplines when elaborated into theory.

If there is one basic principle on which all ancient Chinese military treatises insist, it is that of avoiding direct confrontation with an armed enemy. A frontal clash, in which two armies are engaged face-to-face, was always considered eminently risky and destructive.

The whole art of war was crafted with the intention of depriving the other of his ability to defend himself and undermining him from within, even before the confrontation took place, so that at the moment of confrontation the enemy collapsed of his own accord.

"To carry one hundred victories for every hundred battles," wrote one of the oldest masters of the art of war, "is not an end in itself, whereas to subjugate the enemy without having engaged in combat is the height of excellence."

"The best general is he whose merits one does not even dream of praising, since he vanquishes an already defeated enemy."

Rather than glorifying the battle, the art of war taught how to triumph by avoiding battle altogether.

As it was my experience before, Jullien finds words for thoughts I often had in my Tai Chi-training. Tai Chi Chuan is philosophy in action. Its strategy is based on the general concepts of Chinese strategic thinking - just the ideas mentioned above. Is it not written in the Song of Striking Hands:

Divert the attack into emptiness,
the counter-attack follows immediately.

And in the Classic of Tai Chi Chuan:

Once hidden, once visible.
Left weighted – left empty.

Right weighted – right empty.
Look up – higher.
Look down – deeper.

Retreat – longer.
Advance – shorter.
Not even 
a feather can be added.
A fly can’t settle.
The other does not know me;
I alone know the other.
An invincible hero, isn’t he,
who has mastered all of this?

Indeed he is, but not like a Western hero, who wins by extraordinary strength, but like the Chinese wise man, who wins by the superior strategy.

Enjoy your Tai Chi Chuan


Donnerstag, 22. Oktober 2015

Interview Tai Chi Chuan and Alienation

Interview with Annemie van der Gucht and Peter van de Velde, France

Martin: Hello Annemie, hello Peter, we have known each other for some years now and right from the start we talked a lot about bodywork. One of the main topics was the word „alienation“. Can you explain this for us.

Peter: The word „alienation“ comes from the works of Marx, Hegel and Marcuse. Mainly it was used in the area of economics. Here alienation is between man and his enviroment. Today you can also see alienation towards the body. The contact to one’s own body is lost. You can see this in such simple things as cooking, eating and other basic activities in daily life.

Annemie: It begins during childhood. Children are not allowed to make themself dirty. They are not allowed to walk barefoot and anything that is a little bit dangerous is forbidden. At school they have to sit on chairs and physical expression is repressed.

Peter: No matter whether adult or child, alienation is the loss of contact to natural things.

Martin: How is this experience connected to your Taijiquan-practice?

Peter: Taijiquan can be a way to rediscover your body.

Annemie: For that you need an exercise. Taijiquan could be this. But Taijiquan is not a result, it is a way. For some people it is a shock when they feel for the first time how much they lost the contact to their body. They see how difficult it is to do small things, like align the hand to the nose. But this is the beginning of awareness and so the start of the healing process.

Peter: I think, the use of the body always involves the use of the senses. An important cause for alienation is that we are often too rational and have lost contact to our body. It is all to much about knowledge and much too less about feeling. The movements of Taijiquan are a medium to discover your body. But this involves much hard work.

Martin: Dear Annemie, dear Peter, thank you for your time.

Foto: Ma Jiangbao - taken by Manos Meisen