Gravity and the Yin Force
by © Chun Man Sit
Tai Chi chuan is an ancient martial art from China. Like any other martial arts in the world, it’s about using our bodies in motion through space and time. Since we are using our physical bodies in action, we must follow the physic laws of motion. No matter how skillful a Tai Chi master might look, we can use Newton’s three laws of motion, plus the law of gravity to explain his power and action. There is no mystery once we know the truth. By applying these three laws of motion plus the law of gravity, we can gain a better understanding of Taiji principles.
Tai Chi classics did not apply western physics because the masters who wrote them didn’t know physics. They wrote these classics before Newton’s laws of motion were common knowledge in China. So, they had to use other sources, such as the Dao De Jing, etc.
The yin/yang theory is the most important principle in the art of Taiji. It has many functions, such as:
1. Yang is the body and yin is the mind.
2. Yang is attack and yin is defense.
3. Yang is exhale and yin is inhale.
4. Yang is motion and yin is stillness.
On the last theory: Yang is motion and Yin is stillness, we can translate it as yang is energy and yin is gravity. We must remember the ancient Chinese masters did not know the term gravity. In Dao De Jing, it says, “Stillness means returning to the root.” This obviously means gravity.
Here we’ll use the yin/yang principle to explain the basic forces of Taijiquan. The concept is simple: Yang force is energy; Yin force is gravity. Like the two sides of a coin, yin and yang are the two opposite sides of the same thing. For example, breathing consists of inhaling and exhaling. The action may be different, but they are just the opposite sides of breathing. We can use the yin/yang theory to explain the Big Bang theory: Energy expands the universe, and gravity keeps it together.
Yin force is gravity. Here we refer to the gravity of the Earth. It has one speed: 32 feet per second per second. It works on all things in this world, such as tables, cars, rocks, animals, birds, tennis balls, Taiji students and masters. And it goes in one direction: down towards the center of the Earth. Gravity is what keeps us and all the masters from levitating.
The Dao De Jing said the Dao is simple. Gravity is simple. It also says the Dao uses the weak force. In physics, we call gravity the weak force.
The highest level in Dao is to know the art of wu-wei – non-doing. Gravity is non-doing. We don’t have to do anything to activate gravity. In fact, if we try to do anything, we will naturally use some energy, which will fight against gravity. Gravity is just being here. As long as the Earth is here, we have gravity.
How do we activate gravity? There is nothing to do. Gravity is always here; just turn off energy and it’ll show up.
Yin is the state of being. You don’t have to do anything. There’s nothing you can do. To adjust the balance between yin/yang, you only need to adjust yang.
For example, as we sit in this lecture hall, the hall is bright. But the nature of this hall is dark, and darkness is the yin state of this hall. We can see things clearly because this hall was brightened by many lights, using energy. Before we showed up, this hall was dark. Some body turned on the lights to make this hall bright so that we could see things when we showed up. What if we want to make this room dark again? Can we turn on the darkness? No we cannot. But we don’t have to. All we need to do is to turn off the lights. Turn off yang and we will have yin, because yin is always there.
The rhythm of yin/yang is simple: yin, yang, yin, yang and so on. Or we can use one zero, one zero, one zero, etc.
The most important lesson to learn is: There is no need to activate gravity. Gravity is always here; just turn off energy and it’ll show up.
We cannot control gravity, nor should we try to. We can use energy to cancel gravity. In fact, when we move, we are using energy to move against the force of gravity.
As a result, we should not use energy when we perform rooting, because rooting is the act of gravity. We should practice standing qigong in a relaxed manner, using as little force as possible. When we are still, we will feel the gravity pull of the Earth. When we feel the gravity of the Earth, we will understand rooting.
We use energy to move. When we do nothing, we will be at rest. Consider the chairs we are sitting on. They are rooted perfectly, because no forces are trying to move them. True rooting is the art of wu-wei, non-doing. And the modern name for wu-wei is gravity.
[Chun Man Sit - born in 1950s in southern China, his family moved to Hong Kong when he was six years old. He lived in Hong Kong for twenty years and in 1976, he moved to the United States. Master Sit began his martial arts training in 1969 and has studied and practiced continually for forty years; learning many styles such as Karate, Tai Chi, Qigong and Kungfu. He is the expert on Wu style Taiji, Tai Hui Six Elbows Kungfu, and many Qigong methods, including 6 Healing Sounds, Drifting Cloud Moving Qigong, Nei Gong, Silk-reeling Gong, etc. Master Sit has been a chief judge in many national Tai Chi and Kungfu tournaments in the United States of America for the last 18 years and has taught Tai Chi, Qigong, and Kungfu workshops. His articles appear regularly in Tai Chi and Kungfu magazines and he is currently writing a book on Tai Chi. Master Sit and his wife Mary Ann, live in Overland Park, Kansas.]