The autumn leaves are falling like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are always two cups at my table.

T’ang Dynasty poem

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Taijiquan: Inventing in Loss


Before we get to today's post, today is Chinese New Year! Specifically, it is the year of the Rooster.

Over at Move with Life, there is an article about two principals of Taijiquan: Invest in Loss and Return to the Root. Below is an excerpt. The full post may be read here.


There are two principles we hold to be paramount in our Tai Chi Chuan. 1. Invest in loss, and 2. Return to the root. These two principles hold infinite potential for growth and self-discovery, but what do they mean, and how do they accomplish the former?

These are questions I’ve asked myself ever since I first learned of the principles. They have granted me a road map out of depression, and into progress. I share the answers I’ve found so that they may also help you in such a way.

In my practice I made the mistake of trying to apply these principles separately. This is a terrible mistake because one principle builds on the other.

When I started I was only seeking to invest in loss, by yielding in every aspect of my life. It took me a while, but I found out this is not a good way to live. Sadly it took going through divorce, losing everything I had a couple of times, and living in a roller coaster of emotional upset to figure this out.

On coming to my senses I remembered an important lesson my grandmother had been teaching me my entire life. It’s that by knowing our spirit/true-selves we find our root. My Tai Chi teacher expanded on this saying “It is by returning to the root, we are able to invest in loss properly.”

Knowing your true self is a daunting task which takes perpetual work. This work consists of truthfully looking within. Finding your true self is done by seeking, questioning, reevaluating what you believe in, what your goals are, and prioritizing what you find to be most important. It requires self-reflection and building the confidence to hold your findings firmly as well as creating boundaries to let it take root in your being. This is the foundation of returning to the root. Investing in loss is part of this work but more in the external sense.

Returning to the root is the internal practice of seeking our personal root. Investing in loss is the act of getting there. This means that in order to return a few things need to be present.
  1. We need to know what we are returning to
  2. We need to have confidence to hold onto this in the light of hardship
  3. We need to objectively examine all challenges to our foundations.
Once this foundation is in place we are able to add the second piece to the puzzle. Invest in loss to get there. Investing in loss is the act of getting rid of unnecessary things in order to return to the root. This means taking action, then correcting errors in that action and trying again.

In the physical practice of Tai Chi Chuan investing in loss means seeking to accomplish all the principles in the practice of form, push hands, and application. In short the principles are the root of our practice. We take this root and then expand it into the healing/martial applications. They help us achieve relaxation in movement and the most efficient use of our bodies. To find the most efficient use we must practice the correct way of moving returning to the root, in seeking this we must lose our bad habits hence investing in loss.

3 comments:

Compass Architect said...

Strategically, BGZ is about anticipating changes and adjusting to it.

When Taiji is about "investing in yielding." ... Yielding w/o losing one's meta-position is not losing. ...

Rick Matz said...

Yielding is harder than it sounds. It's not anticipating or timing, it's ... giving no resistance yet still maintaining your integrity. An interesting study.

Compass Architect said...

Correction Strategically, BGZ is about anticipating changes and adjusting to it.
Where XYQ is implementing changes regardless of the other change. Taiji is about "investing in yielding to change." ... Yielding to the change w/o losing one's meta-position is not losing. ...