Independent or interdependent?

There are some fundamental differences of culture between East and West.

In the West, the independence of the self is prized as a commodity - resulting in a variety of social manifestations.
In the East, interdependence is emphasised: harmony, working with, working together and being part of something beyond the self.

American proverb: “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

Japanese proverb: “The nail that stands out gets pounded down.”

 (Jeanne Tsai)

 It would be naive to romanticise this, but clear differences of attitude do exist.

 The experience of tai chi chuan in self defence follows the latter course, not the former. Despite this, individual expression is necessary - to avoid unpredictability and to make the art your own.