Stillness in Motion and Motion in Stillness
The concept of Stillness in Motion and Motion in Stillness is an age old dichotomy that has a multitude of conceptual undertones. This is one of the fundamental truths in the Taijiquan subtle mysteries, both as a discipline of martial art and philosophy for life.
The Idea of Stillness is sometimes confused with the idea of being static or void of potential. However I have a belief that upon the introduction and exploration of Taoist concept, the masters must have understood the importance of this natural precursor to absolute motion. Absolute Stillness requires inherent motion and stability which forms a functional organizational structure or form. This process allows complete random harmony resulting in the potential for absolute change and progression expressed as motion.
In the Taiji form the initial salutation is often referred as “Commencement of Taiji “. This is clarified in the classic as the state of”Wuji.” In the beginning and at the end of most Taiji forms there is a state of what appears to be “Stillness”. In this position the Practitioner stands for a few seconds or minutes motionless in a state of meditative preparedness. This in fact is an attempt to attain a state of Wuji, a state of being which is likened to formless form, or a posture that is a simple state of absolute awareness without any outward fixed attention, just to stand supple and straight, just like a oak tree or mountain.
And, like a Mountain, a tree, or a cheetah when stalking prey, all of these natural forces have the appearance of stillness, when, in fact, the potential for growth and movement are all inherent and prepared for spontaneous revelation at any given time.
As Taijiquan is both a martial arts and a philosophy for living, the application of these acquired skills has many advantages. The first, from a martial perspective, is to provide the illusion of being a sitting target. This misconception may cause your enemy or opponent to attack unreservedly and guardedly. This leaves no room for defense, providing the Taiji practitioner with unlimited potential for attack and defense when applying the thirteen powers.
As a philosophy, it allows you to be in a similar state of relaxed awareness. Likewise, in a situation of verbal or emotional conflict, the state of Wuji may produce a venue to resource your options… a clear, relaxed, flexible mind and spirit for life varied opportunities. In every day life, if you can attain a state of clarity through stillness, not marred by preconceptions, fears or ignorance, this allows unlimited options for conflict resolutions.
The concept of motion often refers to time, space, movement and speed. Although all these factors are relevant, I believe the Taoist had a more subtle and simple observations. In Taiji, the minute your awareness initiates a concept or “Intention” your attention is already in motion and you become aware of this by physical movement. At this point, you have discovered “Taiji”. ‘Stillness’ becomes motion and motion is the stillness. This interaction between mutually dependent opposites is what makes up the yin and yang theory of the Tao in the Taiji.
The combination and interaction of these two fundamental concepts permeates the whole practice of Taijiquan, as both a martial art and a philosophy for living. It is also an integrated self-guided method of health longevity and well being. Practice “Slow to move fast,” and “Be still and know that there is a Tao”.
These basic ideas will help to improve your Taiji practice and enhance your quality of life and well being.
Peace Sifu Dennis Pounall.