The Wisdom of Beautiful Whiskers
by Bataan Faigao
35 AT THE DOORS OF DEATH
1. Keep your elbows down.
2. When you exhale, leave a little ch'i in the tan tien . You don't want to be empty of ch'i . Even when the movement is finished there should always be ch'i in the tan tien .
3. Breathing is never conscious. You should always bear in mind ch'i , just as a fish out of the water becomes conscious of being out of the water. Develop this attitude. To be out of the consciousness of ch'i is like a fish out of the water. If the ch'i is out of the tan tien , the five organs will sit on top of each other. The ch'i buoys the organs and exercises them. T'ai-chi ch'uan is an internal exercise that massages the organs with ch'i circulating in the body. Lao Shr never exercises externally but he never forgets the internal part. Even when he is engaged in another activity he is doing t'ai-chi ch'uan internally.
4. Quality of ch'i : Fine, thin, slow, long, silent, and continuous. Internal movement of ch'i comes gradually. Think of ch'i all the time.
5. Do not sweat. T'ai-chi ch'uan is like meditation. You do not sweat when you meditate. In meditation, the external looks very tranquil and peaceful, yet inside it is moving. When Lao Shr was eight years old he was already meditating. It did him no good. Then he got sick and was at the doors of death. Then he did t'ai-chi ch'uan and got better. Meditation is far from the efficacy of t'ai-chi ch'uan. It isn't that t'ai-chi ch'uan is better, but we do not really understand meditation. To understand meditation you have to have a master. There are hundreds of illnesses you can develop unless you have a master. Lao Shr said, " When I meditated I always had a master next to me. Your four limbs and five organs need movement. T'ai-chi ch'uan exercises the four limbs and the five organs. The problem is in the mind. Yesterday I was meditating and I saw a monk before me, a bodhisattva. Watch out for that, that's trouble. If I were dead and would have reincarnated already, I would be smaller than you."
In t'ai-chi ch'uan the mind is not overheated. It is always calm.
6. When you come home from the office and you feel tired, do the form. When your limbs have to move, let them move from the feet. The benefits of t'ai-chi ch'uan cannot be enumerated.
7. Overdoing is not good either. There are some people who say they want to do some more to get more. This is not true. The most important thing is continuity. Look at the heavens, they are always moving. They do not do a little or more. They do not jump, they are always constant.
8. Do not use too much strength. You Americans have a problem. When you work, you put your all into it and when you rest, you collapse. You are like a bowstring, either taut and full of tension or completely relaxed so you have no strength and cannot stand.
9. When your health gets better, you will naturally relax. All these things I speak to you about will happen. Relax.
10. Have you heard something you have not heard before? I feel I am talking too much.
11. In 5,000 years of known Chinese history, nothing and no one can outdo Confucius. He talked about humanity, your mother, father, brothers, and sisters. Maybe it is because I have more experience than you that all these ideas I can relate and they hold new meanings for me. Lao Tzu talked about man: his viscera and internal organs. And there is Buddhism-- entirely a different matter altogether. Buddhism says: There is no sex, there is nothing. In all of mankind there is only I. All these are basic principles. They are interrelated. When you grasp the unity of these ideas or when these ideas being to harmonize in your mind, then this is the beginning of the Great Learning.
12. Retreat first (neutralize). Do not come head to head. You will only get stuck.
13. Do not yield too fast. You will only leave a vacuum.
14. Control the opponent's hands at his elbows.
15. It is not possible to go beyond Lao Shr's Ward Off. He will let you do it, but still it is in vain. He can still neutralize and use his body as effectively as he neutralizes with his arms.
16. Observe Beautiful Lady's Wrist, otherwise the opponent can hold you there and lock your arms.
17. Attacks: left hand and right elbow combination; hand and arm; hand and hand; and arm and arm.
18. S asked a question about speed. He was saying that in true fighting speed was important and what has been demonstrated was in slow pace. Lao Shr answered by flicking his robes as you would a towel. When you are as resilient as this, you can be this fast. Also, when you receive a punch on one side you deliver on the other side. In and out at the same time.