Friday 26 April 2013

The science and tai chi quest

There is a great deal of similarity between learning tai chi and learning science. Both science and tai chi are based on the principles of understanding building blocks that are common across multiple different applications and situations.

Science is based on searching for simple rules that govern how the world works. Simple rules like multiplication and mathematics at a low level, or things like conservation of energy or evolution that appear again and again in different situations. It doesn't matter whether you are talking about planets and galaxies or car engines, the principles are the same, and if you understand them, you can see the patterns.

Tai chi is the same. It is made up of a few fundamental movements and principles that are applied over and over again. Although when we first learn it seems complicated with all sorts of different movements, as we progress we see the same pattern is emerging again and again. We see that movement X is just like movement Y. Movement Y is an exact repeat of movement Z, only now my arms are slightly further apart. We are hunting continuously for the grand unified theory of tai chi. This is why Masters of tai chi who have been studying the decades, emphasise the basics: standing and foundation exercises. They do not worry about exotic forms because they know that if you get the fundamentals and basics correct, you understand the core principles, and then everything else is trivial.

So it is the same with science. People do not try to understand every single car or every single planet. Scientists realise that they are all governed by simple rules and interactions. Every time one things happens another things happen, it doesn't matter whether it is a bus or a formula 1 car, the principle is the same once you understand how the system works.

Both science and tai chi are also searching for the most simple explanation. The joy is being able to suddenly unlock a secret which shows you that two different phenomenon are in fact the same. You didn't really understand why two things were connected before, but as soon as you understand the rule, it all makes sense.

Tai chi and science are both on the same quest to uncover the core principles. And to use one of my favourite quotes "if you can't explain it simply you don't understand it".

That's why i love tai chi, because it is the hunt and the search for the core basic movements in what seems like an elaborate form. Unlike science however, it's no secret what the core movements are, but we have to discover them

in our own bodies for ourselves. Feeling is understanding. And feeling only comes with practice.