Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | August 10, 2009

Effortlessness in Tai Chi and Life

What attracts me a lot to tai chi and originally aikido is the effortlessness of the art. Tim Cartmell, an excellent martial artist, actually wrote a book called Effortless Combat Throws. Now of course, practitioners will know that learning tai chi is far from effortless. It takes a lot of effort, even just to stand in horse stance, or to learn the forms. But in use, it is effortless and graceful and no mind–the essence of wu wei.

As a wu style and Yang style practitioner, I have a decent understanding of the effortlessness involved. I’m unclear, because I don’t study Chen style, how much a role the explosive fa jing, or issuing of energy plays in Chen Style. I’ve seen videos of chen stylists practicing strikes with a lot of effort, but perhaps not using muscle, but spiraling, shaking, and momentum. Perhaps my fellow blogger Wujimon can elucidate. And even in the school where I learned, we practiced issuing exercises that were a bit more explosive.

But it is the effortlessness that I like. To have that nonchalance quality. To be able to find the zero point, the void, pull in and push out, and the opponent is left wondering what just happened. Be like water my friend, be like water.

To have this effortlessness in life takes some effort–ha! But it works like a charm most of the time. What does it take to be effortless? Knowledge. Confidence. Experience. Practice. Courage. Right Attitude. Wisdom.

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