For many years I have practiced what I call verbal Tai Chi. Utilizing the ability to ward-off, roll back, press and even uproot someone verbally. I wasn’t intentionally working verbal Tai Chi the first time I had the opportunity to explore its form. I had been playing Tai Chi for about a year when the opportunity presented itself.
This was at a time when I was still living in Los Angeles, when a verbal confrontation between myself and a known gang member erupted. The root of the issue was that I called his mother a man. I didn’t do this with negative intention, but it was truly a mistake on my part. Now, the gang member, I’ll call him Lil M, knew his mother was a crack smoker and that she had lost most of her hair and she often wore men’s hats to cover the patchy landscape that was once beautiful hair, so it was truly a mistake when I called mother M “man.” Well Lil M was upset, but I’m not sure if it was the fact that I called his mother “man” or the fact he was well aware of the reasons she was looking so badly and he was embarrassed about it. Either way, he felt he had to talk loudly and defend the fact that his mother was just “dissed” even if he understood how the mistake could have happened.
By this time, a few of my friends had arrived. None were gang members or drug dealers, but they were well respected in the neighborhood for the work we did at the local community center, and Lil M knew this as well, yet he felt the need to press on with the verbal attack. “That was my mom, homey. That was my mom!”. Lil M knew who I was and he knew my friends, so he was well aware where this all could lead to, but he pressed on “that was my mom, blood” he yelled. My friends in turn began to ask about the situation. I knew then I had to make a decision, I knew this could easily spiral out of hand. I ran the initial words from my mouth that started the whole fracas through my mind and decided I did make a mistake and I did unknowingly embarrass Lil M. To defuse the tension, I stepped in the direction of the approaching Lil M, I could see him brace for my verbal retaliation. I then hit him. I just said “I apologize.” He stopped in his tracks immediately. I pressed, I said “I apologize for calling your mother a man.” He stepped back, looking dismayed, it was almost the same effect as if I had hit him in the solar plexus. He lowered his head, turned walked back got into his car and rode off.
This was one of those beautiful sunny Southern California days, that could have turned very ugly. If I would have reacted to his verbal assault and launched my own assault things could have turned a very beautiful day into a very ugly one. At this point I realized I had just done verbally, the forms I had been physically practicing. I knew at that moment I could verbally ward off, verbally roll back, verbally press and verbally uproot someone.
Whatever form of martial art you may practice, there is a way to verbally put into use the physical forms you practice. Try and always keep your cool, learn to act rather than to react to verbal situations, that may get out out hand and seize the opportunity to ward off verbal attacks.