Nothing is weaker than water,
But when it attacks something hard
Or resistant, then nothing withstands it,
And nothing will alter its way.
A verse from the Tao Te Ching (Lao Tzu)
A lot of people have this preconceived idea that Tai Chi is a form of exercise mainly for the Chinese and the elderly, or perhaps the elderly Chinese, and not much else.
More commonly, others come along to a class once a week for an hour and then forget about Tai Chi until the time comes to attend another lesson.
( This is O.K, as at least these people are doing some form of exercise and it’s a great way to meet people. )
However, one doesn’t have to be particularly old, Asian or wait until you are at a class to reap the benefits that Tai Chi has to offer.
Tai Chi, and its relative forms, creates inner strength, harmony with the forces of nature that occur in and around us and balance our personal energy, so that we can lead a healthier life.
Since starting Tai Chi, I have looked for avenues where I am able to incorporate Tai Chi with other activities in my life.
For instance, one of my other passions is surfing. Not to everybody’s taste I know, but this is one area where I can definitely use the principles of Tai Chi.
The journey of a wave starts far out at sea. Wind and storms begin the process and the water gathers energy as it moves towards the land.
By the time the wave reaches land and breaks onto the shore, it may have travelled thousands of kilometres and the energy it brings with it is timeless and can be very unnerving up close.
The power that is harnessed in a single wave is enough to kill an unwary surfer or a wary one for that matter.
To be out on your own in an ocean waiting for a wave can be an exhilarating and sometimes cold experience.
You float on top of the water and for a while the water is soft and pliable and all is serene.
You must at all times be aware of the power and force of the wave you are waiting for.
You must also be conscious of the raw and destructive nature that this wave can have over you.
Caught in the wrong place you could be crushed to pieces, held down by its power until you lose your breath, tossed up onto the beach a broken shell and in saying this, respect is the only word that comes to mind.
When you see a set of waves rising up out of the blue, the majesty and awe of the moment is upon you.
The energy of the wave reaches you and before the wave peaks, it starts to drag you and your board back into its grasp.
Using every ounce of strength you have, you paddle for your life as the might of that wall of water picks you up like a rag doll and carelessly throws you before it.
Gravity takes over and your board hurtles towards the foot of the wave.
Jumping up into a crouch position you centre your weight over the board. Once there, you can use the energy within the wave to find your balance. Shifting your weight, knees acting as shock absorbers as you manoeuvre the board and ride the face of the wave.
Done correctly, you can feel like a champion. Done incorrectly, you can “crash out” and feel rather incompetent. Like Tai Chi, surfing can be very humbling and yet we go back for more.
This energy force in nature is the very same energy that Tai Chi aims to use. Water is weak, so we are weak, but combined with balance and the proper use of the energy that ebbs and flows through and around us, it can be a strength to be reckoned with.
Many a verse from the Tao Te Ching, which is the Pursuit of Wisdom in Ancient China, can be related to the flowing “Strength in weakness” forms, that one finds in Tai Chi.
Tai Chi and the Tao Te Ching, walk hand in hand. One was created from the other and so to practice Tai Chi is to unknowingly, or knowingly (depends on who reads it) experience the philosophy of the Tao Te Ching.
One doesn’t have to surf to find out that the principles of Tai Chi can be used in any circumstance. If we learn to become aware of the energy running through the world (and hence being apart of the world it also courses through us), we can find balance and harmony in our lives.