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Tai Chi
Accepting

2 Dec 2008
One of the most difficult, and fundamental, concepts in Taijiquan is that of accepting. For the true warrior, it goes against every instinct. For the pacifist, its truth is surprisingly elusive.

We should no longer be surprised when taijiquan goes in the opposite direction of our expectations, since that is the nature of yin and yang, but warriors have the most difficulty being comfortable with the notion of accepting. You might say they have trouble accepting accepting.

To make the idea easier to swallow, let us turn to a classical military scenario where accepting was crucial to victory: Napoleon's attack on Moscow. Wait! You say. Napoleon lost that campaign. Exactly. Accepting was the strategy that won the victory for Russia.

Napoleon was famous for military campaigns that were insanely audacious. He may have only won half of the time, but it was enough to make kings and generals throughout Europe terrified of him, and fearful of his attacks.

The year was 1812, and Napoleon dominated central Europe. Russia was not about to fight directly his Grand Armee of almost a million soldiers. Instead of fighting, it suckered the French deeper and deeper into the interior. Napoleon was equipped with better supply lines than usual, but he was not equipped for an assault on Moscow, which is eventually what he ended up with. The Russian landscape was sparser populated and farmed, giving the army precious little access to local food or water. And as they approached Moscow, winter set in. The Russian winter was merciless, as always. In the end more soldiers succumbed to starvation, typhus, suicide, or desertion than were killed by the Russian army. The French army was wrecked and never really recovered.

The Russians accepted the French in the classic taijiquan sense of the word. They sucked them, literally, into their hollow middle and when the time was right, spit them back out again. They let nature do the work.

The pacifist will make the mistake of thinking that accepting means giving in, or appeasing. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Accepting is a tactic. Accepting means that, like the Russian army contending with Napoleon, you lead the opponent to a place that seems safe, but is actually treacherous and under your control. You use that control to choose the timing and method of your opponent's defeat.


You may also like this related article: Gong Qi and Qi Gong (109)
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