Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | February 28, 2012

Using Tai Chi Principles in Daily Life

It is a basic premise that we can apply tai chi principles in our daily lives and in our daily interractions. It is also a basic premise that we are whole beings, so that what we do physically has effect spiritually and emotionally as well. If we practice physical balance, well being, health, patience, quiet inner strength, we will eventually be embued with these characteristics in our daily lives.

Another basic premise of taoism is that adversity is inevitable. There are times that will come that nothing we will or can do will succeed or make things better, but rather, as the I Ching warns, will only bring more misfortune. This is especially true when we act out of the emotions of the ego: anxiety, greed, lust, impatience. The guidance of the I Ching, during these times, is to be retrospective and look to self correction, to quietly staying true to proper principles and self improvement since, even if a situation has become stagnant, we can coninue to grow and improve so that we are all the much more prepared when circumstances change in our favor. And if there is one thing the I Ching insists upon, is that things change, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.

Having said all that, I want to focus today on applying the 13 principles of tai chi in our daily lives. The first four, peng, lu, ji and an, are ward off, yield, press, and push. The next four are cai li zhao and kao, grab/pull down, split/rend, elbow, bump. The last five are center, forward, back, left, right.

I’ve had some difficulty coming up with examples in which we use all 13 energies in daily life, and I think the reason is that in most interractions, we really are not involved in an adversarial relationship, but just trying to deal with some adversity or difference of opinion. Tai chi is a formidable martial art because of its use of these 13 postures or powers. If it only used ward off and yield, it wouldn’t be so great. But in our daily lives, perhaps because of our own inexperience in tai chi itself, we tend to only use ward off and yield. The other issue here is that if the circumstance involves a loved one or friend, or even co-workers and bosses and companies, they really are not our mortal enemies and it wouldn’t make much sense to use the full gamut of tai chi in order to lead these people to their own defeat because the complicated thing is that if they fall, we fall too.

So in most situations inour lives, when we have an argument with someone, but are aware that their intention is not really to do us harm, warding off(establishing your ground, being centered and postured, connecting with the other person in order to use the reasoning power–understand where they are coming from and where they are going), and the yielding principle(connecting with the other person’s center, slightly deflecting the energy, yielding to lead them to a void) will help dissipate the argument and in the very end, a slight, gentle press, push, or bump in the right direction will help bring the adversary around to your way of thinking. You certainly don’t want to rend or split a loved one or friend and make them topple to the ground(unless of course it becomes necessary to knock some sense into someone, albeit with the intention of love, not hate or wanting to hurt or destroy–done as gently as possible.

In all of this, remaining true to correct action such as always acting with integrity and authenticity and quiet inner strength are essential.

I can see in the work environment, the five steppings, forward, back, left, right, and center equilibrium. Sometimes you really need some deft footwork to deal with things at work!

In the rare ocassion when someone in your daily life does intend to do you harm, then the full array of tai chi principles should be employed.


  1. Interesting…I’ll have to think on this some more. Thank you for your post!

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