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Article: Wu Chi – kracht van het stilstaan

Artikel over “Wu ji: de kracht van stilzijn”.

Wu Chi – The Power of Stillness

by Rich Robson
Walk past the Kung Fu Academy in San Diego and you might see something really strange. Several students are standing at attention, albeit with just a hint of slouching. You think, ‘Wow! They must be getting ready to start the fast and powerful moves I’ve seen in other martial art schools. I think I’ll drop in and watch the action.’ You walk in and sit down, waiting with eager anticipation for the action to begin. So you wait, and wait, and wait, but nothing happens. The students haven’t moved a muscle. Finally you say to yourself, ‘What kind of martial art is this? I’ve been watching these guys for almost 5 minutes (an eternity by today’s fast paced societal standards) and nobody has moved a muscle! What kind of martial art is this?’ If you had the patience to watch for 15, 20 or even more minutes, you would realize that standing IS the ‘action’ you were hoping for. So again, ‘What kind of martial art is this?’ It’s not really a martial art at all, but an exercise called Wu Chi. While it was indeed used by Chinese kung masters to help master the higher level skills of their art, it was also widely used by ordinary people for health and longevity. It was developed in China more than 3,000 years ago and appears to consist of nothing more that simply standing perfectly still in an upright posture for anywhere from 10 minutes to 8 hours. Being a product of ancient China, Wu Chi is based on yin yang theory that has its roots in Taoism, a model of nature that is not at all unlike our modern day science of physics. The Taoists believed that the ultimate source of the material universe was a primal energy they called the Tao. To these early scientists there was nothing mystical or religious about the Tao. The Tao was simply a name they gave the energy that contained the seed of the material universe. Furthermore, they said that the Tao was composed of two aspects called yin and yang. It is interesting to note that their ideas were not very different from the model used by modern scientists to describe the world. Most of us were taught in school that all matter is composed of atoms which in turn are composed of negatively charged electrons, analogous to yin, and positively charged protons, analogous to yang. The energy the Taoists called the Tao, is called electromagnetic waves by today’s scientists. The Taoists were interested in how the universe came to be. They concluded that before the universe sprang into existence, the two energies of the Tao, yin and yang, were indistinguishable or blended together so that neither was separated from the other. They believed that nothing existed but a great empty, dark, undifferentiated void. The Taoists called that state Wu Chi, which can be translated as ‘no extremes’. There were no extremes of black and white, hot and cold, or sweet and sour. Without the extremes of black and white there would be no color for your eye to see, without hot and cold there would be no temperature for your skin to feel, and without sweet and sour there would be no flavor for your tongue to taste. Without extremes, or contrasts, there was nothing for the human five senses to grab onto. In effect there was no material universe. Then something happened that caused the Tao to ‘move’. That movement brought about the separation of the yin and yang aspects of the Tao, giving rise to black and white, hot and cold, sweet and sour, and all other complementary physical characteristics and ideas a human being can perceive. In this way the material universe sprang into existence. This new state was called Tai Chi, which means ‘The grand extreme’. Tai Chi conveys the idea that all objects, ideas, concepts, etc. can be identified as either yin or yang. The important thing to understand is that Wu Chi came before and is more primal than Tai Chi. Tai Chi sprang from Wu Chi. Now, although this world of ours is basically a great place to live, there is one slight problem that comes with the separation of yin and yang in Tai Chi. Along with all the complementary aspects of human consciousness, come likes and dislikes, preferences and aversions, wants and don’t wants, which can give rise to inner conflict. Inner conflict in turn leads to tension and all the mental and physical problems associated with tension. In an effort to reconcile this inner conflict, it is all too easy to end up trying to manipulate and cajole the world and events to suit your own desires. It can end up as the proverbial ‘hitting your head against the wall.’ In kung fu, the result of such mental rigidity could mean serious injury or death, hence the emphasis placed on Wu Chi by the kung fu masters of old. Instead of connivance and manipulation, it is better to see and accept things as they are. It often makes more sense to change your thinking and actions to match the situation rather than trying to force the situation to match your idea of the way things should be. That is where the exercise of Wu Chi can help. When you practice Wu Chi you enter a state where the things of the material world lose their power to sap your energy. You go back to a more primal state where desire and craving lose all meaning. You transcend yin and yang and therefore rise above likes and dislikes, preferences and aversions, wants and don’t wants. In Wu Chi you are complete, without lack. The result is a relaxed, energized body and a profound sense of well being. With continued practice, Wu Chi causes your entire outlook on life to change. You will become less demanding on yourself and others as you learn to accept things as they are and ‘go with the flow.’ Calmness and tranquillity replace tension and anxiety. Around 150 BC a Chinese Taoist named Ho Shang Kung said, ‘A dragon is still, hence it is able to constantly transform itself. A tiger is busy, hence it dies young.’ For not doing anything, a lot sure happens! For more information on Wu Chi you can reach Rich Robson at (619) 297-0424 or check out their web site with lots of information on Wu Chi at
Rich Robson is the owner and chief instructora at the Kung Fu Academy located in San Diego, CA. He has been teaching the internal martial arts for over 10 years.


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