There is a story by Zhuangzi on the fighting rooster which I like. It goes as follows :-
Chi Hsing Tzu was a trainer of
fighting cocks for King Hsuan.
He was training a fine bird.
The king kept asking
if the bird was ready for combat.
“Not yet”, said the trainer.
“He is full of fire.
He is ready to pick a fight
with every other bird.
He is vain and confident
of his own strength.”
After ten days he answered again,
“Not yet. He flares up
when he hears another bird crow.”
After ten more days,
“Not yet. He still gets that angry look
and ruffles his feathers.”
Again ten days.
The trainer said,
“Now he is nearly ready.
When another bird crows,
his eyes don’t even flicker.
He stands immobile like a block of wood.
He is a mature fighter.
Other birds will take one look at him and run.”
~Chuang Tzu, The Fighting Cock
The very first thing that I teach to students in the Beginning Posture is to be calm and patient while working their mental intent without moving. If they persist long enough with this learning principle their mental state would be like the fighting cockerel in Zhuangzi’s story. They will be able to turn inward whilst outwardly expressionless like a block of wood.
This ability to be able to turn off their ego and be detached will help their intent when they begin to move in the form. Over time their awareness will grow and with it their ability to control their movements on a more refined level.
However, students have little patience to go through this part of the form. They would rush through it, barely giving it a thought; having forgotten that I once said to them that the very first things I taught them are the most important. This is why when students wonder how it is that I can appear not to have moved yet I can neutralize their power I would smile because they already have the teaching but their impatience have deprived them of this gem of a principle.
Many times I have said that to Master Tai Chi Today one must pay heed closely to the principles of Beginning Posture and this very first thing right at the beginning is a high level teaching that is easily overlooked in a student’s rush to start moving. Now that I have mentioned it again perhaps they will start paying closer attention to mastering this treasure.
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