The Hexagram Ting

The Hexagram Ting (the sacrificial vessel)


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Some people have asked why we have adopted this hexagram as part of the Association livery. To some it seems a surprising choice.

Ting represents sacrifice as a cleansing process, the image of the sacrificial vessel turned upside down for cleaning, and this in itself is a fitting reason for its use.

The Chinese character Ting stands also for sensitivity and it is this connection which, we feel, makes it such a worthy model in the practice of Tai Chi Chuan.

When asked 'what is Tai Chi Chuan most noted for?' or 'what is the key component in the use and practice of Tai Chi Chuan?' Most people will site yielding, slowness, roundness or Chi/jing (internal power) and, of course, all these (and several other) principles are fundamental to the practice of Tai Chi Chuan. The use of Tai Chi Chuan, however, hinges on centering, timing and the application of the five 'key words' of push hands - which are: listening, yielding, sticking, neutralising and controlling/applying. The Key to mastering all these is listening, which is also represented by the character Ting and is most usually translated as 'sensitivity'.

The kind of sensitivity called for in Tai Chi Chuan is well described by the literal translation, listening, which is itself a form of sacrifice. When you really listen you sacrifice your own need to express yourself and, instead, absorb what another has to say. The kind of sensitivity called for in Tai Chi Chuan requires that you sacrifice your own desire to dominate/win/control a confrontation and follow the movements of your partner/opponent. Only by following/sacrificing can the partner/opponent be truly understood and when you know your partner/opponent completely they are neutralised before they begin.

In practical terms we can say that for yielding, sticking, neutralising or controlling/applying (energy) to take place you must have flawless timing, which you can only acquire by sacrificing your aims and following your partner/opponent. When you do this you understand your partner/opponent completely and, provided that you remain centered, you need not seek victory, victory will seek you.

Which brings this discussion full circle (most appropriately) and, hopefully, the reason we chose Ting as our guiding hexagram is now clear.

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