Harmony between two poles
Rhythm is time and space, Yin and Yang. When you move the arm, as in the bear paw (movement of the Tai Ki Kung “Father” sequence), you go from here to there (from one shoulder to the other). Space is always the same, more or less, time is always the same, more or less. We try to keep the same time, but we are not machines. Machines are limited and go through the same space exactly in the same time. We are alive and can, if needed, change speed and adapt to circumstances.
If, for example, while we are doing the bear paw movement we see a mosquito we can accelerate the movement and catch it. A machine cannot do that and the mosquito will easily avoid the strike.
This is related to the external part, the outside. If the movement is correct internally, we will not compress the shoulder bone but will find the right measure to keep it free. If it is free we have kept the right balance between internal and external, between the two poles. We have to remember that there are always two poles and we need to keep them in balance in all of our actions, and do not break their relation. It is easier to choose one of the two poles and break their harmony, because to follow only one direction is simpler and requires less effort. But two poles are always co-existing: Yin and Yang, time and space, internal and external. If we want to progress in our life, our actions must keep into consideration both poles and their respective needs.
So, if our hand needs to reach a point further than what the shoulder joint allows, the shoulder can help the arm by bending forward. If this does not happen and we force the movement, because we want to reach the position we are aiming at, no matter what, we risk creating a trauma which will generate a block, with further effects even after this action.
On the contrary, when we remember to respect the internal limit as well, we can improve. It is normal that when we are training our movement has some spatial limitations: these limits allow us to develop our capabilities to overcome them, when needed. It is important to go beyond limitations without breaking the rules.
Nature impose limitations, as aging, for example. We can go against this limitation, overcome it, without abandoning the rule, the right thing, the harmony between the two poles, in order to go beyond our limits.
So form becomes an important measure of balance, respect of the rules, search for the right thing, harmony. The right thing means: neither too little (limitation) nor too much (abandoning the rule), for a better function of the organ.
Rhythm is probably the time the older part of the brain (earlier heaven) takes to transmit the information to the frontal brain, the younger one (later heaven). When the brain transmits an information to the legs or the arms it takes some time because the information must go from one place to another. Similarly the message from the rear part of the brain to the front one takes some time.
The rear part of the brain, “earlier heaven”, represents our genetic experience, dated thousands of years. The experience of the front part of the brain, “later heaven”, is the rational one, acquired by us through reasoning during our life. “Earlier heaven” is therefore instinct, “later heaven” is reason.
When we act towards a single direction, without keeping the balance between the two poles, we break the harmony and, by virtue of an hidden force, we plant a seed of the opposite sign of our intention which will work to overturn the effects of our action.
Thus, inside every good action, if excessively pushed through, there is the seed of a bad action. Inside the white there is a small black seed.
(Speech by Master Ming Wong collected and edited by Gaetano Ruvolo)