internal, immanent, and intensive
A video clip of the great Yang Sau-chung, youngest son of Yang Cheng-fu, doing a Long Form. In view of this demonstration it can be seen just how radical Cheng Man-ching's adaptation of the Form was. John Kells studied this Form with Yang in Hong Kong in the mid-70's. He told me he had great spirit.
this world unfurls and folds, refulgent with singularities

The only enemy is fear. This is the basic starting point of all spiritual work. Fear interiorizes us – inhibits that most natural of processes – the giving and receiving of energy. When you are without fear then you are ready and eager to advance into the unknown. So when we disparage thinking, it is only fearful thought – neurotic worrying, rigid rationality, negative dampening of joyful spontaneity. Thought should be the creative response of a turning mind to the novelty of its aspect.



the inevitable disinheritance of the world of meaning


our Spirit is ring modulated downwards as well as upwards

Spiritual breakthrough comes when you finally realise just how boring you are. When you come to suspect that a life without you, your thoughts, feelings, memories, desires, fears, at its centre is not only possible but preferable. A self-centred life is one in which everything that happens is coloured by your ego, as though the ego cast an illuminating light which forces you to see things the way it wants you to see them. The only way to break through the self is to first find something far more interesting to devote your life to. Then the discipline and sacrifice inevitably involved in its practice enable you to slowly build and live a truer life.


must be madly in love with the truth to the point of weeping for it – but don't rely on it

denuded like a glans

without fear or favour

Contradictions, disjunctions, incompossibilities, make an uncommon sense – a nonsense – that nourishes and creates life.
a feeling of life belonging to no moment yet carried by the dynamism of a flow by which we are affected and which we affect yet which we are also in between


To think, for Deleuze, is to delve into an opaque and inchoate ground, to be saturated in the nearly unbearable intensity of events, until a concept erupts like an abstract line emerging suddenly from material and spiritual forces.


the inside must be open to the outside so that it is no longer time that is inside of us but we who are inside of time – folded in its crest

perilous & invigorating
Things are born, have a life, and then die. Everything is such, including insights and principles. We must realise that principles are not abstract statements of language, but structures to be brought alive in practice. And then, once conceived and born, that natural life will always end in death, in dissolution, to be reconceived – born again – transformed by a deeper understanding.


thoughts are born posthumously

Why do men fight for their servitude as stubbornly as if it were their salvation?


that genitality of thinking, that profound fracture of the I which leads it to think only in thinking its own passion, and even it's own death

the nonidentical repetition of cosmic processes of regeneration and renewal
Shrink into your bones, into your marrow, at the same time that you expand into your space. Intensity & extension.
Every thing is made up of many parts, all to some extent coordinated, which gives the thing its thingness. Each time I do something, that doing involves and requires a coordinated effort – a rallying together of my mind, my motivation, my energy, my spirit, my body, all the parts that make up my body, and all the parts of the activity. If I repeat that activity as though endlessly, that is, if I set up and perform an endless series, as I would, for example, if I was practising some move that I want to perfect, then, if I relax into the doing, then slowly some if not all of the components that make up the activity will slip out of phase – dislocate – wobble – and there will be a whole array of new energies set up as a result of these new patterns and tensions. This is passion – an energy that's generated when the mind stops inhibiting.
Develop and practice a Form that never ends. You just stop for a break every now and then.
lost in the thrall of an uncertainty principle

the soul will always follow a different path
At some point, hopefully sooner rather than later, the student needs to commit their soul to their discipline; they need to admit that this wonderful art of taijiquan is interesting, engaging and productive enough to last at least a lifetime. Then the taiji becomes part of you, as you start the long slow process of becoming taiji, which doesn't mean becoming a martial artist or becoming Chinese, but rather becoming energy through yielding. There is then this sense of taiji itself yielding to you – melting and drawing you in to its strange and beautiful world. The problem, as always, is that we resist, out of fear and out of greed. We, weak bourgeois consumers that we are, feel we have a birthright to the best of all available worlds, and so forever pick and choose, and commitment, which always requires a hefty sacrifice, goes out the window. Our curse is our stubbornness. We feel the all-pervasive natural forces drawing us into correct alignment, we are well aware of God's love, yet instead of yielding and letting ourselves be played by this natural wisdom, we resist, and we feel our strength and our power in that resistance, and we become so attached to it that letting go is tantamount to non-existence.


these moments of stupefaction are linked to a profound short-circuiting of masculinity


In this convoluted yet crucial journey, from slavery to the Promised Land, one gets little change from forty years.

There is no longer a virtuous nation and the best of us live by candle light.

Facts do not convey truth. That's a mistake. Facts create norms, but truth creates illumination.
When lecturing, Gregory Bateson, who famously said “We live in a world that's only made of relationships” would pose his audience a question. He would point to the jug of water beside him, and then to the glass, and ask where the difference between those two objects resides. It is an interesting question, because in a sense, relationship is a gathering, a set, an assemblage, an ecology, a shimmering of differences.
Every thing is not just different from every other thing; every thing is also different from itself. By this statement we don't mean different from any possible representation of that thing, or different now to what it was a moment ago, we mean that a thing, in its being, is solely its difference from itself. In other words, identity does not exist, in itself, except in worlds constructed by the human mind, for example, the world of mathematics. Identity is the wishful thinking of a fearful mind. But even mathematics, when pushed to its limit, confronts infinity: for example, the set of all positive integers is obviously infinite, though bounded at one end. The set of all even positive integers is also infinite yet contains half the numbers of the first set, so there are degrees of infinity. Hence, infinity in a grain of sand.
Unity is the embrace of difference.
the informed eye has its own blindness as it begins to take for granted things that were initially bizarre


an obscure and indistinct ground of unconscious drives and processes of becoming


A scrupulous inexactness.

Access to the next level will always elude me until I have it in me to give a great gift. Not only the gift of commitment, which is more a promise, but a gift of energy and of spirit, which forever bind me to the deeper path the next level proffers. Freedom only comes when my spirit is completely bound up with something far greater than myself, when I have given so much that there is absolutely no chance of escape. In a sense, this is the same gift, albeit on a smaller scale, that I should give whenever I encounter the Other – the gift of unconditional connexion, with no concern for my own safety.


The amount and frequency of practice must be well-judged: too little and I lose the thread, too much and I break the thread.
a perception unmoored from its normal anchorage

Becoming still and becoming a dizzy swirl, all at the same time.
Of all the senses, vision is the most invasive – it strives to keep things at bay. Akin to striking the ground with my feet as I walk, it unsettles what I look at and hardens me. When I look at something I invariably put myself first as lord and judge of what's perceived, largely because perception, being a complex synthesis of reception, recognition, naming and categorizing, is too active and constructive – too arrogant and too arrogating. I must learn to use my eyes softly – compassionately; beckon rather than reject; encourage rather than reduce; linger and embrace rather than dismiss.
One of the best learning aids is the video camera. Not only can you often see where you are making technical errors, and where and how your posture can be improved, but, on the long term, you also learn to watch yourself compassionately rather than critically. Patience and perseverance inevitably lead to softness.
The first thing we must learn to yield to, as taiji practitioners, is the ground beneath our feet. Tread gently, softly and compassionately. Each time my foot strikes the ground violently and ignorantly, my sacrum takes the brunt and hardens in protest.
The key to learning is feedback. Without it we go horribly wrong.

the dogmatic solidifies itself in its own inertia (habits, rituals, conventions)
chance & improvisation
The taiji practitioner acts as double agent. On the one hand she strives to bring chaotic systems into equilibrium and on the other she works to disequilibrate stable systems. Miraculously, taiji relaxation achieves both. A system is chaotic because it is agitated, over-stimulated, anxious, and relaxation will dissipate that excess energy and allow the system to settle. A system is stable generally because it has hardened with habit and fear – it has become chronically tense, locking out change and the agents of change – those inevitable destabilizing forces internal and external to every system. Relaxation simply releases those forces and allows change to take place. And hence every healthy system will tend to swing one way AND the other, and equilibrium, ever tenuous and evasive, that is, dynamic, is achieved, or at least approached, by allowing stabilizing and destabilizing tendencies to operate together. This is what makes taiji so endlessly difficult – as soon as I manage to bring some order and understanding to a system, it changes into something else because the taiji has activated and given permission to those ever present agents of change.
Examples of a system: a body, a life, a heart, the nervous system, perception, thinking, a home, a family, a population, an activity, an understanding, a journey, a dream, an occupation, a practice, a teaching, a lesson . . .
reach beyond the chains of common sense


I don't believe in culture, I believe in encounters.
on the lookout
The only thing standing between greatness and me is me.


Poised systems that ride the delicate crest between chaos and order.

rigor is always local

Let the buttocks melt down the legs and bloat the calves.
So what I'm proposing now is that my oneness is my spine – I have one spine and it's central – and so lower spine vertical – this beautiful principle of taiji – is how my oneness is contained in the field of gravity – and my twoness is my two legs – single-weightedness. So single-weightedness is the principle that splits me into two – but of course I'm two and I'm one and in a sense the moving meditation aspect of taiji – this thing that . . . it's as though I'm sitting – I'm doing seated meditation but what I'm sitting on are these two legs that are moving around so I have the oneness of the seated meditation – the spine – which is my central verticality – and the moving, the roaming, the roving, is the two feet which in a sense represent conflict – and harmony as well – working together – and choices – I have to chose where to go – which direction shall I move in – I'm no longer stuck to one spot with no choice but to just be there . . .
there must be two different readings at the same time
Taiji proposes a double engagement with the world: one intensive, focused, differentiating, spirited, and the other extensive, embracing, integrating, soulful. My skill is then in balancing these two engagements – keeping them both alive and each regulating the other.

Free time.


killing our stupid seriousness with stealthy blows to the unconscious

resonate with a sense of audacity

error is at its most dangerous when we think we have done with it or are immune from it

fraught & passionate

live practice


heterogenetic & differential
My hardness is in a constant process of dissolution and erosion, a process we call the love of God. This softening is a natural process that we resist with all our might, constantly and consistently reinventing or consolidating our hardness with willful acts of shameful stubbornness.
A creator who is not grabbed around the throat by a set of impossibilities is not a creator.
When my son (soon to be 21) was a baby, at that noble age when they sit beautifully straight, before the strain of walking has corrupted their posture, he used to sit and play with his toys, bolt upright and totally engrossed. Yet every time an aeroplane would fly by, without lifting his head, he would point up to the sky to acknowledge its passage. This was energetic attention – his focus on the toy also caused his awareness to expand and embrace his whole environment. And this ability – to focus on what's before and at the same time to expand the back to envelop the world – came from the beautiful poise of the head atop his perfectly straight and vertical spine. If you allow the head to crane forward in an attempt to give greater attention to what's in front, then you lose the bigger picture and you lose energy; central equilibrium – the absolute requirement of any energetic system – has gone.

Don't lose the thread.


"The day I awake with no pain I will know that I am dead."

I’m obsessed by the structure of survival
The teacher is an intermediary between the teaching and the student, in the same way that a priest is an intermediary between God and the common believer. But the good teacher, like the good priest, is not just an interpreter, but someone with the heart to tell the same old stories and make them new – as though for the first time. This ability enables them to gather the attention of their students, bundle it with their own spirit and that of the teaching, and transform everyone involved. Without good students, those ready (rather than willing) to be transformed, it cannot happen. It is simply a matter of joining forces with others in order to have the energy to break through. Healing and prayer are largely the same.
the sedimented structure of the image of thought
Taiji teaches the four basic skills required to become a passionate and compassionate human being:
  1. The ability to instantly create a nourishing and peaceful space for the Other to enter. To be effective this space should be turning, or returning, like a mirror, so when the Other enters they are confronted by themselves. We call this yielding.
  2. The ability to instantly penetrate and enter the Other's space (body/heart/mind). We call this attacking.
  3. A route into the Earth: a sink for yielded energy, and a supply of attacking energy. We call this rooting.
  4. The ability to stay connected, even when it appears that communication has ceased. We call this sticking.


The fees you pay your teacher should be seen not as payment for instruction, but rather an earnest of respect and labour – a pledge of practice.
discipline operates by reaching beyond itself
Never use force. Use energy rather than force. This is one of our fundamental tenets. You can't force love. You can't make someone love you. Your love for them, if it is true to overflowing, will do two things: it will encourage you to hold them in your heart, and it will embolden you to create circumstances where they cannot help but become aware of that love.
fragile & uncertain
Meditation is the time and place to become quiet enough to feel and bathe in God's love. It renews that most basic and natural of convictions – that the only true response to love is love.  An economy of love.


Exist outside your self
and transcribe
you're goddamned
the universe
it's simply there
in the clear area
just above
the horizon
astonished light

we live intruded by a world of absolute plurals
The moment is a capsule of possibility and potential – of energy. But so is each thing: each object, each thought, each feeling, each process. Opening to this potential we call listening. Without listening there can be no yielding.
the very concept of the game of play
The teacher endeavours to embed you in a process that will gradually improve your character. Such a process necessarily dismantles self-image – that which sets you apart – and develops your energy, your listening – that which draws you to others and in particular to destiny.

The world is what you think of it.
So think of it differently and your life will change.
What the taiji symbol depicts so beautifully is that as well as Yin and Yang twisting and twining around each other, they also each contain the other. Pure Yin, as soon as it is proposed, thought, conceived, allowed, already contains a taint of Yang; and vice versa. This is a natural law – the impossibility of absolute purity (or absolute anything for that matter). In taiji we say "Hardness comes from softness", or "Taiji is the art of concealing hardness with softness" – there is always an understanding that one comes from the other. This is very difficult to fully grasp – embody – it requires my mind to become the container of Yin and Yang, rather than focusing on or preferring either one. My mind stands back and envelops, and lets Yin and Yang play it out, like two children. This is yielding mind.
relations in which entities resonate and exchange not in spite of but through their differences
Hospitality is not just welcoming the stranger into the home, the hearth, the heart; it doesn't stop with cordiality, with offering nourishment. Hospitality is, above all, putting the Other first and listening to their stories. Being prepared to listen and to learn. Without this the Other is always excluded, no matter the level of generosity they receive.


Sin is a falling away, a splitting apart: a man who sins acts so as to divide himself, internally or from his fellows or from God. "To atone" is to reunite, to make "at one."


The world is a harmony of tensions.
You always have to be at the limit that separates you from animality, but in such a way that you are no longer separated from it. There is an inhumanity proper to the human body, and to the human mind.
Centuries ago, when thinkers had more depth than they do now, humans were considered to have no essence. There did not exist an essential humaness, or even an essential humanity. Humans possessed such a broad territory, such a wealth of becomings, such a range, from animal baseness to angelic nobility, that one couldn't define them. As soon as a definition was proposed the only thing you could be sure of is that somewhere someone was already changing into something not bound by that definition. And as soon as one described territory deemed completely out of bounds to humanity, humans somewhere were already working to occupy it. And because of this lack of essence humans developed souls, and the more they struggled against essence, against the norm, the deeper their souls became.


constantly fold the infinite back into the finite, and vice versa


intimate & intimidating


the higher man leaves his domain

routes & trajectories

Playful. Play is convoluted movement. Movement for the joy of it. For the hell of it. Spirals, twists and twirls. Swirls, whorls and curlicues. Each figure an erotic interlude on an infinite line that extends with joy. It is on such a line that one should meet one's death.
The maze of possibilities, thread and thrum.
Taiji lends the stability to navigate sensibility.