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“Invincibility is in oneself, vulnerability is in the opponent. Therefore skilful warriors can be invincible, but they cannot cause opponents to be vulnerable”-Chapter 4: Formation, Sun Tzu, Thomas Cleary Translation.

The chapter on formation in the art of war highlights that having a strong defence is dependent on you and having a strong offence will be determined by sensing your opponent’s weakness.

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In addition to being in a strong position to launch an attack, by having a strong root or base, being formless, undetected to your opponent, is also paramount. In Taiji Quan this results in being empty, with the practice of Tui Shou or push hands, one learns to be empty. By empty, what is meant, is that you slowly let go of all tension physically. On a mental level the active action of the mind thinking, trying to figure things out, this is also tension that needs to be let go.

Then one starts to listen, “ting jin” they start to feel and understand, instead of trying to think to understand. The mind and body are “empty” and “formless”. In a sparring situation, your opponent will not know what to strike and should they tense up, whether they are defending or attacking, you will be able to sense their weakness and neutralise they attack or attack their weak defences.

As babies, we go about feeling and mimicking are environment and we learn quickly and absorb quickly. And as we get older, fear creeps in and we are taught to think through life, building up layers of tension upon tension.

Whereas tension, wears and tears, the tension breaks things on the inside with time. It unbalances, and although one can gain results, in the long term it is not effective, and not the acme of performance. We all have built up tension growing up, our job is to let go of it.



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