I am practicing Tai chi since 2 years. My tai chi master—sensei is practicing it before I was born—more than 40 years. He travels the world, and has garnered great wisdom. He shares several of his thoughts that are deeply penetrating. However, today, in the class he made a very profound statement, and it was a sudden jolt.
In Tai chi there is, seemingly, an easy movement called the single whip. Single whip is a common posture found in most forms of Tai chi. It is one of the movements most repeated in the solo training forms. My sensei said that one can never master it. Each time you perform it, you learn something new. It is a mind-blowing and mysterious statement. In the instant gratification era we live in, we seek perfection in everything, but here is a man who is suggesting you contrarily. I believe if you take home this message, it can provide you freedom in many ways. Perhaps, if we stop searching for perfection, we may succeed in bringing the much-required peace—the need of the hour.
Now, let’s look at the other side of the spectrum. We seek perfection and lookout for absolute answers in every field. Likewise, fitness science is intriguing but also seeks perfect answers. Many interesting things are discovered frequently, which is astonishing. For example, I recently read a health related article titled How Parasites and Bacteria Could Be Changing the Way You Think and Feel. Interesting isn’t it?
However, I don’t like the explicit tone which is used in nutrition and fitness science books, articles, etc. Fitness experts try hard to search for definitive observations. Perhaps, you are bound to believe that that’s the only way out. You also get a sense of feeling that there isn’t any room for ambiguity. I believe it will not take us far, if we think in this way. Contrarily, we might be better off to embrace imperfection. As Salvador Dali says, “Have no fear of perfection. You’ll never reach it.” Moreover, deep within all these experts know and realize that, as Salvador says, perfection cannot be reached.
The single whip, as Sensei says, cannot be mastered. So be it with whatever we learn—embrace imperfection.
My sensei performing the single whip.