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Posts Tagged ‘survival’

Wheeling and Dealing

Tai-chi principles can be used to better understand the economic troubles we are facing.  Most of the classroom training focuses on using the least energy to create the most effect.  We learn how we too often waste energy, both physical and mental, and we learn about how to use proper mechanics of the body and mind.

In the 1970’s many economists were worried about the fact that so much of our economic energy went into buying and selling companies rather than on actual production of goods and services.  Financial transactions became the predominant business of our country rather than manufacturing or non-financial services.  We stopped “doing” and spent most of our time “wheeling and dealing”.

I think the economic collapse is largely a result of this problem.  How much of our personal lives consist of wheeling and dealing and how much do we actually get done?  What do we do for our health, for our continuing learning, keeping in touch with friends and being creative? 

It feels like our energy is getting sapped just by working more to pay bills or trying to find work.  But sometimes exercising or engaging in creative activities acts like putting more wood in the wood stove when you are huddling under a blanket and unable to function.

When I was young, play consisted of moving and interacting with other kids.  Today it seems to consist of moving only your thumbs on the Xbox remote. 

We use the term “not doing” in Tai-chi. This term really means “not doing anything ridiculous”.  It means not wasting your energy because of poor mechanics.  So when you are “doing” the form or push hands or self defense practice, you are certainly “doing”.  It’s just that you understand what is meaningful and useful and what is wasteful.

I think we need to examine this principle in our personal and national lives.

HOW TO AVOID ATTACK

Tai-chi-Chuan teaches you how to avoid attack on the street and to make it difficult for a sparring partner to defeat you in class.  Even if you are not strong or are not used to fighting, there are ways you can thwart the attacker’s efforts.

A mugger is looking for an easy attack on someone who won’t or can’t fight back.  He mugs for a living and doesn’t want to get hurt “on the job”, just like anyone else.  The mugger must assess the physical abilities of his victim as well as the victim’s state of awareness. 

There are three qualities you can develop to lessen the chances of becoming a victim.  The first is the alignment of the body.  If your body is not aligned properly you are probably not involved in any physical activity that requires coordination.  The mugger can sense this.  Any training, such as Tai-chi, Zookinesis, Yoga or Pilates can teach you the proper alignment of the body.  Even the use of such physical therapy aids as the foam roller will improve your posture.  This will also improve your overall health.

The second quality is the fluidity of the body.  If your body is stiff and tight, you probably can’t move very well and certainly can’t run after the attacker.  A person who walks fluidly and is well connected to the ground may offer the mugger trouble.  If your body seems bouncy and alive you may have the energy to run after him.  The training methods mentioned above as well as such activities as trampoline work will bring that fluidity to the body.  Trampoline, Zookinesis and the animal forms of the martial arts are especially good at adding that bounciness to the body.

The third quality a mugger looks out for is awareness.  If you are aware of what is going on around you, you can prepare for an attack.  Strong awareness also shows that you have had some training, as the awareness of most people is very dead.   All of the above training helps with awareness, especially the Push Hands exercise of Tai-chi, sparring in general and the Zookinesis exercises.

In a classroom situation there are ways to thwart the sparring partner as well.  Most fighters concentrate on the opponent’s fists and feet and sometimes elbows and knees as well.  But they don’t concentrate on the space between the sparring partners.  Proper Tai-chi training teaches you to move into the open spaces so that the opponent is jammed.  You should be more interested in the spaces between you than in the strikes of the partner.  Let his strikes trigger you to move into the open spaces where you can easily deliver your own strikes. 

This requires that you don’t keep moving forward and back as with most styles of fighting.  You stay in and don’t allow the partner space to move or even time to relax and catch his breath.

Another way to quickly tire out the partner is to make his attention move rapidly.  Most people have very weak attentions.  While a properly trained martial artist has a “field of attention” so that he can deal with many things going on at a time, most fighters have a “single-pointed attention” which can only be in one place at one time.  That person’s attention has to jump from one place to another and it gets tired.  

So you should strike to different parts of the body.  You can punch the legs as well as the head and body.  You can integrate kicking with the punching rather than using punching for a while and then switching to kicking.  Add a little bit of grappling as well, just for a second or two, here and there and then go right back to punching and kicking.  If your partner cannot predict what you will do next, his attention is uncertain and wears out quickly.

Keep the body fluid.  Allow your hips, lower ribs and elbows to rotate in small circles and allow the head to reflect this movement.  This will allow you to respond quickly and will make it difficult for your partner to aim.  It will require his attention to follow your movements and most people cannot do that for long.

These are but a few simple ways that proper Tai-chi training can teach you to be uninviting to attackers and to make it difficult for an attacker to defeat you.

ANOTHER EXCERPT FROM “THE DOUBTING SNAKE” NOVEL

Kano tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to a movement beneath some dead branches.  “That is a paca.  Go and get it.”

I walked over to the spot and discovered a paca which seemed to be full grown – about 25 pounds.   But as soon as I approached it, the little brown, creature ran away for a few yards and then froze.   Again and again I approached it and just as many times, it bounded away.

Finally I gave up and walked back to Kano.   “We have to set a trap first,” I said.

Kano merely walked over to the paca, reached down and picked it up.   He held its belly outwards with his arms under its front legs.  Then Kano put the creature down and it bounded under some nearby branches.

“Kano, why did you let it go?”

“So you could catch it.  I’m teaching you to catch paca.”

Again, I tried and failed.   I could hear Kano snickering.   I guess this was good for him to see.   He must feel mentally inferior to me and seeing that he does possess some skills which I do not, must make him feel better.

“What did I do wrong, Kano?”

“You didn’t catch the paca.”

“How were YOU able to catch it?”

“Because I know how”

“Then tell me how to catch it.”

“You just walk over and pick it up.”

“But when I walked over, it ran away.”

“You scared it.”

“How come YOU didn’t scare it?”

“Because I wanted to catch it.”

“So did I!”

“Then you shouldn’t have scared it.”

What a situation!  Kano knows a skill which I would like to learn.   Yet he doesn’t have the intelligence to explain it to me.  I tried once more.

“Kano, listen to me.  When you walk over to the paca, it doesn’t run away.   When I walk over, it does.   Obviously, we’re doing something different.  What?”

Kano thought for a moment and said, “You are scaring it away and I’m not scaring it away.  That is what is different.”

“O.K.   I understand that.   Now what can I do differently so it won’t get scared?”

“Don’t do anything differently.  You can just walk over and pick it up.   You can walk over any way you want, just don’t scare it.”

Kano walked over to the paca once more to demonstrate.   He skipped part of the way, jumped, twirled around and walked in various strange ways.   When he reached the paca, he bent down and picked it up as before.

I had heard that retarded people are good with animals.   The animals seem to be able to sense the retarded  person’s helplessness.  Perhaps Kano’s disability has actually helped him out in this case, although I don’t know how altruistic a paca can be.

The “empty one” insisted that I keep trying.   I wandered about, following the creature for almost an hour, but could never come within thirty feet of it.

Finally Kano picked the creature up and brought it to me.   He suggested we keep it as a pet and told me he thought it was cute.   It was a strange creature with a narrow face, a pudgy rear and slick fur.  I petted the creature and talked to it.

“Why are you so frightened of me?   I only want to eat you.”   I laughed yet I felt a tear come to my eyes.  It was certainly not because of sympathy for the paca.   I feel very comfortable with the idea of eating meat.   Perhaps my subconscious  remembered some painful event which was evoked by this situation. Kano released the paca and once again it bounded for the bushes.

“I thought you were going to keep it as a pet?”

“Do you really want to?”

“Sure!”

“Alright, you get it and bring it home.”  Apparently the paca had grown used to us as I had no trouble picking it up this time.

As we walked back to the hut, Kano said that we could really stuff ourselves on that much meat.

“What do you mean?  Are you going to eat it after all?”

“Of course.  I only said that stuff about keeping it as a pet so you would walk over to it with a friendly feeling.  I taught you how to catch it.”

“Kano!  How could you?  That’s not fair.”

“Not fair?   Why isn’t it fair?  I said I was going to teach you to catch a paca and I did.  That’s fair.”

“But there are morals here.  The only reason I was able to catch it was because I thought of it as a pet.  And now, in a way, I’m lying to the paca.  That’s not fair.”

“Lying to a paca?   I don’t know about such things.   I neither lie to paca nor tell them the truth.  I just eat them.”

HOW TO AVOID ATTACK

Tai-chi-Chuan teaches you how to avoid attack on the street and to make it difficult for a sparring partner to defeat you in class.  Even if you are not strong or are not used to fighting, there are ways you can thwart the attacker’s efforts.

A mugger is looking for an easy attack on someone who won’t or can’t fight back.  He mugs for a living and doesn’t want to get hurt “on the job”, just like anyone else.  The mugger must assess the physical abilities of his victim as well as the victim’s state of awareness. 

There are three qualities you can develop to lessen the chances of becoming a victim.  The first is the alignment of the body.  If your body is not aligned properly you are probably not involved in any physical activity that requires coordination.  The mugger can sense this.  Any training, such as Tai-chi, Zookinesis, Yoga or Pilates can teach you the proper alignment of the body.  Even the use of such physical therapy aids as the foam roller will improve your posture.  This will also improve your overall health.

The second quality is the fluidity of the body.  If your body is stiff and tight, you probably can’t move very well and certainly can’t run after the attacker.  A person who walks fluidly and is well connected to the ground may offer the mugger trouble.  If your body seems bouncy and alive you may have the energy to run after him.  The training methods mentioned above as well as such activities as trampoline work will bring that fluidity to the body.  Trampoline, Zookinesis and the animal forms of the martial arts are especially good at adding that bounciness to the body.

The third quality a mugger looks out for is awareness.  If you are aware of what is going on around you, you can prepare for an attack.  Strong awareness also shows that you have had some training, as the awareness of most people is very dead.   All of the above training helps with awareness, especially the Push Hands exercise of Tai-chi, sparring in general and the Zookinesis exercises.

In a classroom situation there are ways to thwart the sparring partner as well.  Most fighters concentrate on the opponent’s fists and feet and sometimes elbows and knees as well.  But they don’t concentrate on the space between the sparring partners.  Proper Tai-chi training teaches you to move into the open spaces so that the opponent is jammed.  You should be more interested in the spaces between you than in the strikes of the partner.  Let his strikes trigger you to move into the open spaces where you can easily deliver your own strikes. 

This requires that you don’t keep moving forward and back as with most styles of fighting.  You stay in and don’t allow the partner space to move or even time to relax and catch his breath.

Another way to quickly tire out the partner is to make his attention move rapidly.  Most people have very weak attentions.  While a properly trained martial artist has a “field of attention” so that he can deal with many things going on at a time, most have a “single-pointed attention” which can only be in one place at one time.  That person’s attention has to jump from one place to another and it gets tired.  

So you should strike to different parts of the body.  You can punch the legs as well as the head and body.  You can integrate kicking with the punching rather than using kicking for a while and then switching to kicking.  Add a little bit of grappling as well, just for a second or two, here and there and then go right back to punching and kicking.  If your partner cannot predict what you will do next, his attention is uncertain and wears out quickly.

Keep the body fluid.  Allow your hips, lower ribs and elbows to rotate in small circles and allow the head to reflect this movement.  This will allow you to respond quickly and will make it difficult for your partner to aim.  It will require his attention to follow your movements and most people cannot do that for long.

These are but a few simple ways that proper Tai-chi training can teach you to be uninviting to attackers and to make it difficult for an attacker to defeat you.