Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | September 13, 2011

Poise, Confidence, Cool

I’m reading a book that belonged to my grandfather, called The New Mental Efficiency Manual, an abridged volume of a ten volume work written in 1934. I’ve fallen in love with the book because many of the concepts are related to tai chi chuan and taoist thought.

The main gist of the work is developing poise, having self confidence, being cool and calm under pressure. These are all qualities that are developed and cultivated in the practice of tai chi chuan kung fu. The book posits that through strength of character, we are able to develop and cultivate these qualities. It says it is important to not give into the false virtue of modesty. Now, while I disagree on this, it’s only because it’s a matter of semantics. False modesty is bad. But we don’t want to be boastful braggarts either, which always bothers me when I see a martial artist act that way. The quiet, inner self confidence is what we are going for, that inner smile and the inner strength.

But the book makes a point that we should acknowledge to ourselves our abilities and skills, and not be afraid to make them known in necessary situations. One personal example was my own wavering about when the time would be right to actually begin teaching tai chi. After careful self examination and thought, I knew that I was ready to begin teaching with efficacy and integrity.

The practice of tai chi teaches us that the physical and the mental and emotional are intimately twined together. What we learn to do physically translates into all areas of our lives. If a tai chi player, fter much practice, becomes balanced, poised, fluid, harmonious, just to name a few of the characteristics of tai chi–also spontaneous, creative, adaptable, cool under pressure–then all of those qualities will be translated into all aspects of our lives, in our relationships with others, in our positions as leaders, managers, team builders, business people, and on and on.

When a person develops good gong fu, that is they know what to do, they can walk into any given situation with poise and confidence, and exude these qualities so that people pick up on it. The tai chi player becomes a go to person, the person others look to for leadership.

Tai chi can help us become persons of inner strength, persons who act calmly and efficiently in emergency situations, people who have abilities and skills, and are willing and able to use them to influence others and to offer it to the rest for the good of society. The world needs people with good gong fu in all areas, and people who act with honesty, integrity, humility, modesty, balance, equanimity, perseverence, forbearance, love and compassion, honor, loyalty, and more and are a positive influence on the world around them. This is what I look to be. Through the Contemplative Practice of Tai Chi Chuan Kung Fu, to cultivate my inner self, the true self, and then to be a positive influence on the people and world around me.



  1. The primary reason that I study is to help cultivate a calm, clear mind. It came in handy recently:

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