The Root of the Problem

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I was pushing hands with a fellow student after our Taiji class last weekend. My fellow student was sharing with me some of the problems he experienced during push hands.

One problem which was bothering him was the tensing up of his body when his opponent stands too close to him. He had been struggling to relax whenever he finds himself stiffening up in such situations, to no avail.

As we continued pushing hands, I observed how he automatically tensed up when I stood too close to him for his comfort. It was almost as if he reminded himself that his opponent was too near to him, and his natural reaction was to tense up and push his opponent away. It somehow occurred to me that this was simply a psychological pattern. If he could break his mental pattern, he should be able to overcome this problem.

I offered him another perspective to his problem. What if, instead of focusing on how to relax, he can focus on reducing his sense of personal space. If he becomes comfortable of having his opponent closer to him, he would not have the impulse to tense up and push his opponent away.

We often focus on the symptoms of a problem, rather than the root of the problem itself. If we can identify and treat the root of the problem, rather than treating the symptoms, most of the time we would be able to come up with a clear approach to overcome the problem.

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