Taiji Day 49: mark your start

Today, before I started my Taiji routine, I made a small diamond of fallen branches on the ground. Then I stepped into it. Mark your start.

I began from that place. John MacPhee (?) in the book a Sense of Where You Are, describes how Bill Bradley took dozens if it hundreds of shots on basket from all over the court. He didn’t know it, but Bradley was developing “field sense” – an awareness of where he was I the court and how far or how hard he had to throw the ball to get it to the basket. From anywhere.

But I have to know where I’m starting from to have that kind of awareness. So, mark your start.

The result today was largely positive. Among the awarenesses I found was that I’m rarely passing forward of my starting point. For a defensive martial art, this is appropriate. But it was also startling. I am never charging into my theoretical opponent’s space; I’m only defending mine. I’m never racing to drive them away forever, only blocking them from invading my space. Whenever I reach the boundary of my space, the form turns on its heels to survey my own territory and sweep it for opponents who may have snuck up behind. There is no pursuit, only self-defense and self-discipline.

There’s a recognition in this form against overextension. Don’t go farther than you can afford to go. Don’t extend your supply lines beyond what you can afford. Live within your means. Don’t challenge opponents — wait for them to come to you. It’s a very different attitude than the Stand Your Ground laws we’ve been hearing about lately; or even the imperialist attitudes of some current and previous governments. Real power comes from mastering your own ground, rather than trying to lay claim to someone else’s. Know where you started from.

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