Inga, thanks a lot for your reply and your kind words about my capacity to defend myself. Well, one is only ever as good as ones last fight, and it would be rash of me to suppose that there might not have been some luck involved on both occasions. On the other hand, my belief in T'ai Chi is very strong, and I really believe that that belief is the absolute foundation for successful practice and implementation of it: even if one cannot readily believe all the miracles claimed for it, one should at the very least be readily 'willingly to suspend disbelief
'. Not replying to your points in any particular order, on the question of physique, I would again quote from Yang Lu Chan who said:
Sizing Up an Opponent
When squaring off with an opponent, first observe whether his physique is great or small. If it is great, then he must have considerable brute strength, and I should respond with superior skill. If he is of slight build, then he will be skillful, and I must attack with power. In this way, I overcome the weak with strength and the mighty with cleverness. Regardless of size, if my opponent adopts high postures, then I must make use of low postures; if he adopts low postures, then I must make use of high ones. This is the method of high and low, yin and yang ...
To return to 'knockouts', I still think that they should only be used when necessary, but I suppose that the word 'necessary' might have a different meaning to different individuals, according to temperament and training, even under the same circumstances. Personally, I'm a bit squeamish about hitting people. Whether that's a fault in me, I really wouldn't know, but it's the case, so partly out of temperament and partly because Tai Chi is primarily defensive (in my view), I have tended just to defend when assaulted, though as I've mentioned, in London I had to go on the offensive eventually. This wasn't a question of 'slugging it out'; or rather, it was from their point of view, but not from mine, as I just parried and blocked. None of them on the second occasion I mentioned came to any injury. I had a bruise on my head as a result of being kicked there when I fell over, but I blocked everything else after I stood up again. As for the other occasion, in London, yes, I might have injured the person against whom I used elbow strike. Rather than come to any hard and fast conclusions - I am sure this subject will 'run and run' -, I would like to figure a hypothetical example. Suppose I'm in a supermarket. I'm a man, of course, but a woman thinks I have butted in in front of her in the queue. She's a bit pyschotic, obviously, and starts flying at me with hands and feet, punches and kicks. Should I deal her a knockout blow to end the confrontation, or should I try to content myself with parrying and blocking? Well, if the answer is that of course, she's a woman and I'm a man and therefore I shouldn't knock her out, I would reply that that proposition is sexist, and that what is 'sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander', and that accordingly, if I am not entitled to knock out a woman, then neither am I entitled to knock out a man ..... Kind regards, T.
'Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions. Live the questions now. You will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.' Rainer Maria Rilke.