Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Yin-Yang way of life

Humans are born with discrete levels of zest and trait. Every human life goes through cyclical ups and downs. Birth and Death are the irrevocable extremes. Extremes are inevitable truth of life; and they define each other’s existence. Nature also exhibits different extremes- Hot and Cold, Day and Night, etc. The Chinese call such polar forces as “Yin” and “Yang”. Yin represents “darkness” and Yang represents “brightness”. Yin and Yang are thus; two sides of the same coin and are always associated with each other. The underlying principle of our life is based on these unparallel forces.

Being a Goju-Ryu (Japanese) style Karate student, the above principle is easy to understand. In Japanese dialect, the name Goju means Hard and Ryu means Soft. It is also referred to as the Hard and Soft style. This style is based on synchronization of two extreme forces such as, Hard and Soft. A hard blow by opponent is blocked by a comparatively softer force and vice-versa. This style helps in conserving energy which can be later utilized to attack with full force, like a spring.

Many martial Art forms are based on the Ying-Yang principle. In the Kung Fu style of fighting, the two important elements are strength and gentleness. At an advanced level of Kung Fu, it is believed that gentleness does overcome strength. Tai-Chi form of martial art is also based on the same concept. Bruce Lee the famous martial arts hero, found a new style of combat - Jeet Kune Do (JKD). The symbol of JKD itself represents the Yin-Yang concept; designated as two arrows moving in opposite directions.

Further understanding reveals a series of individual Yin-Yang techniques. These techniques in Karate are known as “Kata”. The basis of Kata is deep breathing. This helps in making the body strong. The motive behind learning Kata is to learn self-control. Most importantly it teaches us to fight against mental monsters like Fear, Anger etc and also helps to come out of the envelope of comfort zone. Moreover, to perform these techniques with perfection, it is essential to stare in the opponent’s eye. This not only enables you to read the opponents mind but also teaches you to be fearless. It is also reflects the level of confidence in the person. Such techniques are meant to spread harmony through physical exercise. In a way, you meditate while practicing them, which is adds a different dimension for learning them.
Meditation makes the body mentally sound and alert. It is rightly said that,
“mind management is an essence to life management”. In an insanely complex world of recurring problems, the prolonged use of these techniques will have a significant positive impact on the mind.


The teachers of such skills stress on the importance of learning these principles with the underlying skills and practices. At the same time, much emphasis is given to persistence. It is believed that when we persist in practicing them, they become easier not because they become easier, but our ability to do them increases. They also improve concentration and teach us never to give up in life.
The great master Chojun Miyagi of Goju-Ryu Karate summarized his learning from the Yin-Yang techniques by saying- “When your temper rises, lower your fists – when your fists rise, lower your temper.”

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