Active versus Violent Resistance

This is a question that I think about as an aikido and tai chi chuan practitioner.  Embedded in both arts is the idea that strength on strength clashes are bad.  If you’re smaller, you’re going to get crushed.  You can’t trust strength, but it goes farther than that.  There are specific teachings to go away from developing strength.  We are taught to relax, which often is a vague idea thrown out there.  Relaxation is a mystery until you figure it out.

Once I started learning tai chi chuan, I learned about the concept of an active relaxation, which is different from what we normally think about.  Active relaxation is a process of consciously relaxing and activating certain muscles and joints in order to move or maintain a position.  So I wonder is not resisting or going strength against strength merely passively allowing strength to go by, or is the teaching saying not to resort to a violent resistance to force, but rather use and active one in the same vein as active relaxation–minimal energy usage through body control and positioning.  I think it is.

What do you think? 

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