Samstag, 24. Oktober 2015

Text: Tai Chi Chuan and Chinese Strategic Thinking

Being interested in Chinese strategy I just read this text from Francois Jullien in his book Detour and Access:

Military strategy was much more than a specific technique in ancient China. It reflected some of the most radical elements of Chinese thought and informed many other disciplines when elaborated into theory.

If there is one basic principle on which all ancient Chinese military treatises insist, it is that of avoiding direct confrontation with an armed enemy. A frontal clash, in which two armies are engaged face-to-face, was always considered eminently risky and destructive.

The whole art of war was crafted with the intention of depriving the other of his ability to defend himself and undermining him from within, even before the confrontation took place, so that at the moment of confrontation the enemy collapsed of his own accord.

"To carry one hundred victories for every hundred battles," wrote one of the oldest masters of the art of war, "is not an end in itself, whereas to subjugate the enemy without having engaged in combat is the height of excellence."

"The best general is he whose merits one does not even dream of praising, since he vanquishes an already defeated enemy."

Rather than glorifying the battle, the art of war taught how to triumph by avoiding battle altogether.


As it was my experience before, Jullien finds words for thoughts I often had in my Tai Chi-training. Tai Chi Chuan is philosophy in action. Its strategy is based on the general concepts of Chinese strategic thinking - just the ideas mentioned above. Is it not written in the Song of Striking Hands:

Divert the attack into emptiness,
the counter-attack follows immediately.





And in the Classic of Tai Chi Chuan:

Once hidden, once visible.
Left weighted – left empty.

Right weighted – right empty.
Look up – higher.
Look down – deeper.

Retreat – longer.
Advance – shorter.
Not even 
a feather can be added.
A fly can’t settle.
The other does not know me;
I alone know the other.
An invincible hero, isn’t he,
who has mastered all of this?


Indeed he is, but not like a Western hero, who wins by extraordinary strength, but like the Chinese wise man, who wins by the superior strategy.

Enjoy your Tai Chi Chuan

Martin

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