I have had some fun watching a tennis tournament from Shanghai, and persuading myself that this is part of my CPD (continuous professional development – the buzz word at the moment). But watching sport is really one of the most productive and enjoyable ways of learning to distinguish the elements. People competing with one another show their elements in great relief, and since the cameras are always trained at close-ups of their expressions, we can see every twitch of their muscles and every expression of stress.
So what I learnt from watching tennis this week was what I diagnosed, from a distance, as being the elements of the following players:
Roger Federer and Andy Murray: Water
Rafa Nadal: Wood
Novak Djokovic: Fire (possibly Inner Fire, because his Fire is not the easier, more relaxed kind shown by Outer Fire. He seems too prickly for that.)
I think seeing the players from the point of view of the elements helps explain why Roger Federer always finds Nadal and Djokovic easier to deal with than he does Andy Murray, who seems to get under his skin (Water trying to outmanoeuvre Water). From Federer’s point of view, Water can flow over and round Wood (Nadal), and can extinguish Fire (Djokovic), but how is it to deal with its own kind, in Murray, where the slipperiness and flow which is one of Water’s characteristics meet a similar kind of ability to slip past him and win the point? This is possibly why Andy Murray has notched up more wins against him than anybody else, and won again over the weekend. From Nadal’s point of view, he can beat Federer if he is strong enough to push Water aside, but what an effort this requires, where the potential aggression of Wood meets the ultimate source of will-power in Water!
Body movements and shape also reveal a great deal. Nadal has an almost absurdly powerful body, and moves aggressively across the court using forceful blows with the racquet to power away at his opponents, whilst Federer’s body, and to a lesser extent Murray’s, flows more gracefully and the racquet movements are more fluid. Nadal looks as if he would like to win a point quickly and brutally, Federer and Murray as though they are happy to let the point continue for some time before unleashing a killer blow.
So next time there is a tennis tournament on TV, use it to give yourself a good lesson in the elements as you watch.