Someone wrote on a forum today about a master saying that there is no point to keep secrets because even if he were to tell the students they would not get it.
This is quite true from my experience. Earlier this week I was explaining about being natural to my student.
My student said that he had thought that the way I was moving made no sense because it looked indirect and hence he never followed the way I do it and used whichever way he thought made more sense.
My point is that Taiji is made up of a bunch of principles, not just a few isolated ones. So whilst his point about being direct is correct it failed to address a few other key issues. As long as these issues are unresolved he would not be able to generate strong power that can neutralize yet send the opponent off like an arrow shot from a bow.
Yes, we should be smart to analyze the art but don’t let the non-obvious fool us with their apparent uselessness. The rationale is simple – if its that obvious and hence easy then why are we still largely in the dark. Ergo, there is much that does not make sense until its been explained.
Its like the principle of “wu wei” which is basically there not being me. But it can’t be right because I am right here. So this must be a principle that is of no practical use, perhaps something to titilate the mind. It becomes a truth to those who never got the training method to realize this in practice and as they pass their teachings down through the generations those who believe that this is rot will turn it into a self-fulfilling prophecy and lose this vital principle.
Thus, if I know that I don’t know at least I can look for ways to resolve the impasse between principle and practical. But if I don’t know that I don’t know and assume that I am right then I would not look for a solution. So this is a problem today for many Taiji learners.
The first step is to dispel our illusion of thinking that we know. Once this is done then we seek the path of “wu” to realize “wu wei” as the initial realization without which we cannot attain the second part of the principle. If the entire principle is unattainable then the next phase of being transparent will seem even more like something out of the pages of a science fiction book. To render the learning more difficult a lot of being internal is difficult to feel and see clearly. I’d show videos to my student sometimes and indicate to him what is happening. With enough practice even he can see it. Then I’d ask him to watch our videos and he would have a difficult time seeing what is happening. One of my friends also said that he had to look closely to see the punch that hit my student right at the end of the video even though on a clip it should be easy to see.
Sometimes, to learn Taiji well we don’t need to blindly sweat. Instead, we should first put our mental house in order that we can learn properly. However, this is not an invitation to over-think, over-analyze the art. There is a time to think and there is a time to practice. Sometimes, we should not think too much but just practice. At times, we should slow the practice down and think things through. Other times, we should feel to have a direct idea of what it is like. There is no one best way but the best way is that which can get you results in a reasonable amount of time with reasonable effort put in.