The Yin and Yang of Tai Chi Grading. When I started Tai Chi, I had naively thought that by the time you had reached your Black Belt, you had it made. You clearly knew all that there was to know. You would begin your training knowing nothing, you would journey on your merry way, starting with a single step, and you would arrive at your Black Belt. Journey’s end.
However the gaining of wisdom is not a journey. Never a journey!
A journey implies an end, a beginning, and a wavering path called the middle. But as anyone who has trained in a martial art knows, while we do begin our learning, there is rarely an end.
No, the gaining of wisdom is not a journey: it is a circle. Around and around we go, each time we pass our start point we have learned more. Each lap we build on our knowledge, grow deeper within and stronger without. And for each circuit we complete, we realise there are many more ahead.
More than a circle, though, it is Yin and Yang. A circle filled with a never-ending loop of light and dark. Of struggle and victory. Of growth… and the paring back of bad habits. Each grading is a goal: a remote glowing light dot in a billowing sea of dark. The weeks tick by, while body and brain work hard. Slowly, progressively, the dark recedes and the light grows brighter. Until somehow the day arrives. You are now a dot of dark yin, filled with anxiety and dread, floating in a bright yang glow of hope. The grading commences and light and dark meld. There is nothing, only the now.
Then it is done.
…And the cycle begins again. There is always more to learn. The bright yang joy of accomplishment contains the dark yin kernel of despair that your knowledge just gained has only revealed how much more there is to know! And so we take a breath and return to our training, to explore and sweat and delight in what the next cycle holds.
I am thrilled to have accomplished my Black Belt Tai Chi Grading with the support of my Tai Chi family, but it is only the 1st degree. There is so much more to learn. Around and around I go…
Nicola Nye, Rowville Tai Chi