In Tai Chi, our way to approach an opponent is to always look for weaknesses, gaps, and holes. We don’t attack our enemy’s or opponent’s strengths directly. Instead – we attack his weaknesses. Also, if our opponent is strong, we try to weaken him. We can do this by unbalancing, trying to direct him in a position to compromise his structure etc.
The methods are many. But first, to understand the weaknesses and how to find weaknesses, and how to compromise an opponent’s structure, we must first understand his strengths.
Let me repeat this to let it properly sink: First, in order to find an opponent’s weaknesses, we need to understand his strengths.
If we don’t understand the strengths of the opponent, we won’t find his weaknesses. We won’t find the gaps, the holes, and we will find no way to discover ways to turn the enemy weak. First, to understand an enemy – understand his strength.
Many times, the weaknesses are all too obvious. If, and now let me emphasise “if”, we understand the difference between an unskilled fighter from a skilled fighter, we will certainly have an advantage. But then again, to really understand what unskilled means, we need to understand skill.
The problem with Tai Chi people is that most people have no idea what fighting skill is. They have no idea about the strength of skilled people. Then why would they even think about fighting or believe that they could use their Tai Chi in a real fight?
I am not going to say that no Tai Chi practitioner can fight. Some, even if they are very unexperienced, could do it in a more common situation. Some Tai Chi practitioners are actually very good at spotting an unbalanced body and uncontrolled movements. But being an unskilled fighter meeting another unskilled fighter is still different from meeting someone who is skilled. In reality, it’s a very big difference.
Remember that Tai Chi in earlier days was something that bodyguards and security personnel studied. They knew very well what fighting was, and they often had a lot of experience, as they lived in a society where you always need to be prepared to defend yourself with any mean possible.
Today the situation is very different. Most people studying martial arts are unexperienced and live in safe environments. And that is why the Dunning-Kruger Effect is the worst disease in the whole Martial Arts community. If you want to be sure to really be able to use your Tai Chi, and to understand who you should not try to fight with, you really need to understand what real fighting skill is and about how good fighters act and how they think.
There are many ways to explore and discover what this means. You could try learning some things in different schools, or from good practitioners of typical fighting styles as boxing, Thai Boxing, Muay Thai, MMA and similar. And by all means, do some sparring, regular sparring. This doesn’t mean that you need to replace your Tai Chi with methods from any other style. But again, and to return to where I begun: you really need to understand the skills and strengths of different kinds of opponents. You really need to do this if you want even to have a chance to apply your pure Tai Chi methods against any practitioner of those fighting styles.
I would even go to the extent to say that if you are not willing to spar against, and to learn about, and to understand, good fighters and their methods, you should give up hope to use your Tai Chi against any trained fighter. Well, you could still try if you want. That’s another way to learn I guess. But at least, try to not live with the fantasy idea that just because you study Tai Chi you will eventually be able to magically defeat any kind of opponent you meet.
The same truth is valid in Life, in politics, and in war
Understanding the strengths to be able to find the weaknesses, the gaps and holes: this is not only something that Tai Chi people should consider. This is a truth in many areas, but also something disregarded by most. We are taught to head out with all our strengths against another person’s strengths. We are taught to empower, not to understand.
In personal life, I can understand that this is the mind-set of many. But I don’t understand why people tend to do this in more serious situations. It is often said that you need to keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. This is true. This is the way to understand an enemy. Keep him close. But few people seem to put this in practice.
“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer” is true when you make business with people. You need to understand who you are dealing with. Sometimes it’s better to do a little bit of business with scoundrels than pushing them away. Then you will understand better how they work and how you can prepare yourself from not getting cheated in the future. Some of the best business lessons can be learned from the real scoundrels.
What baffles me the most is about the politics in this World. The countries of the West always rely on their imperial strength and don’t make any efforts to really understand other countries in other parts of the World. For instance, the media of the West is directly responsible for the negative view of Muslim countries and the Muslim World, something that creates deep conflicts between people and the population even in the West.
Anti-propaganda is something very dangerous for the own country that prepares to engage in conflict. Let’s turn to China, the birthplace of Tai Chi Chuan. The USA has no interest in learning about or to teach anyone about the real China. Instead, they spend billions of dollars just to spread disinformation and anti-China propaganda. The China that many people believe in is a highly negative caricature, a monstrous thing that has very little to do with reality and purposely shaped in the minds of the people by Western media.
If the USA really thought about China as their enemy, why not try to understand China for what it really is? Why spread so many disingenuous lies? Why not let the World know about all of the good things China does in its own country and the World? If you want to understand the real weaknesses of a country, the things that are bad, and the things that still have a long way before it can be improved, you must first understand and acknowledge the strengths.
Again: if you don’t see and acknowledge the strengths of an enemy, you have no chance to understand its weaknesses.
Soon all of the politicians and the leaders of the World will believe in a China that doesn’t exist. How they would even think about engaging in a real conflict with an enemy that is something completely different from what they believe? But they won’t even know that all of their knowledge is based on a caricature they created themselves.
Sorry for the political rambling. If you click “Continue reading” below, I have posted a few videos about how the Western Media portrays China. If you have any interest about how media works, or what they try to make you believe in, I suggest that you have a watch. And I would like to hear about your thoughts about all of this in the comments below.
I have tons of more things to say, but I will try to keep this blog away from politics. Anyone who is interested can find the real truth of different narratives. The problem right now is that the accepted and politically correct way to approach China is with prejudice and racism. Many people want to hate, few wants to understand.
Don’t worry, I will stay away from politics from now on. And very soon I will return with something much more practical about The Art of Tai Chi Chuan.
And if you don’t already read this is a single post page, don’t forget to click: “Continue reading” to watch the videos.