As part of my own personal development into Tai Chi, I am going to read Cheng Tzu’s Thirteen Treatises on Tai Chi Ch’uan by Cheng Man Ch’ing.
These are my own thoughts and interpretations and I welcome other perspectives to expand my knowledge!
Treatise One: Explanation of the Name and Definition
What do I understand from this Treatise?
This treatise summarises the principles of Tai Chi Ch’uan. It prepares the reader/practioner to enter the mind-set to approach the art.
It introduces the concepts of yin and yang, softness and hardness, with emphasis on yin; softness and stillness. This may be due to the western, or even youthful ideas that martial arts focus on hard and fast attacks at the limits of yang. However focusing on yang is important to prepare the body and the mind for the discipline of any martial art.
To learn to “invest in loss” is easy to understand but difficult to apply. We are naturally primed to have an explosive, active reaction to attacks; adrenaline is released which prepares the body for flight or fight (or freeze!). In order to invest in loss, one must first bring stillness and softness to this flinch reaction. By practising stillness to such attacks, it allows you to enact whatever you think without a panicked mind when you are confronted with an opponent’s force. This practised clarity enables the weak to become strong, the sick to recover and the timid to become brave as they gain the confidence in the balance of yin and yang within themselves.
How can I apply this in my practice?
Notice what forces are affecting you. Are they yin or yang?
Practise softness and stillness when encountering yang. Balance the amount of yang received with your yin.
Train to be calm and in control when you would normally flinch/retreat.