Western New York Karate Center
Shihan Bill
March 25, 2016

Yin and Yang versus Yin-yang

An illusory distinction of complementary forces

in what is actually an indivisible whole

When people think of the phrase, “yin and yang,” they think of distinct dualities such as light and dark or good and bad. Paired but distinct opposites. The use of the conjunction “and” in that phrase underscores the sense of there being two elements in a pair.  But the Taoist concept from which the phrase yin and yang is derived is better pronounced as “yin-yang.” That instead of distinct and possibly opposing forces, these dualities are complementary aspects of a whole.

This week, Hanshi directed our attention to the duality inherent in techniques. For example, where there is extension there is also retraction. But, like the concept of yin-yang, that these are not to be considered separate and distinct actions but instead complementary elements of a complete action. For example, a kick is not solely an extension of our leg to bring the foot to our target, a kick is an extension AND also a retraction of our leg. Not only do we apply force to a target with the impact associated with the extension of the leg, more important, the leg’s retraction also serves a function; beyond taking our foot out of range of counter-attack, the retraction can be used as a heel kick, a hook kick, a sweep, as just a few examples.

Within the wholeness of a punch, following the intended hand strike, there is also the possibility of an elbow strike when re-chambering. That within the wholeness of a block, following the interception of an intended blow, there is the potential for a grab and destabilizing pull in the re-chambering.  As you train, remind yourself that not only need no movement be wasted, but that no movement exists as a single element.