Sometimes the obvious is the hardest to see. I think that applies to Yin & Yang, a symbol the is ubiquitous in martial arts. We talk about it, put it on our t-shirts, hang it on the wall, its beady little eyes staring at us all the time with its ancient esoteric wisdom that we so clearly understand.
This side is yin and this one yang. This leg is empty and this one is full. The tiger is like this and the dragon is like that. Tense and loose. Up and down. Inside and outside.
In actual fact I think we look past it or even through it without thinking much at all about renewing, exploring and evolving our understanding.
In working with people from a variety of martial arts and healing modalities I often observe a temporal mistake in the application if the yin/yang concept. What folks are often doing in their practice is applying yin then yang instead of yin entwined with yang.
One of the most common problems involves the vertical axis where the intentional projection upward is lost when sinking down and/or the downward sinking is lost when projecting upward. Sinking down and stretching upward must both be present to engage the vertical linkage. Even more importantly they are not 2 different things but two aspects of one thing. Unity or oneness is the goal.
Another example involves stretching and contracting. The opposites must unite both in time and purpose. Stretching then contracting is not the same thing as stretching and contracting. The old saying is stretch the tendons, contract the bones. When done with purpose (yi) uniting these two functions has very interesting results.
Tension and relaxation must also be combined. I constantly see an over-emphasis on relaxation to the point of the practitioner’s frame collapsing. Standing practice is a lively activity where the frame is stretched between heaven and earth. Over relaxing turns it into a boring and painful form of self-flagellation. The question should be what is tense and what is relaxed and how are those aspects intertwined? Deeper relaxation is an achievement overtime that should occur within the unity of the frame. Tension is a required element to activate the frame and therefore the required state cannot be ‘relaxed into’.
The are many other examples I could give but hopefully that gives you the gist of it. I like to think of Yin & Yang not as not only a conceptual tool but an ever manifesting observation of what is.