Tim told me that his first heart attack taught him that he could not rely on strength to win.
His second heart attack taught him that he could not rely on his own energy at all to win.
(Unfortunately there was no third lesson, as Tim's third heart attack took him from us in November of 2014.)
I had always accepted as obvious the first lesson of not relying on brute strength.
The possible meanings of the second lesson, however, had evidently eluded me.
I recalled Tim's explanation of his experience of taking beta blockers to protect his heart. He explained that normally, if you change from walking on a flat surface to even just a five-degree incline, your heartbeat adjusts slightly to keep enough oxygenated blood pumping to the cells of your body to support the needed effort at the given moment. In his case, however, the beta blockers stopped his heartbeat from adjusting in that way, keeping it at a base level to prevent any additional stress on the heart. The effect was that any physical endeavor that required any additional effort beyond baseline would promptly exhaust him, as his body was trying to put forth the effort without the additional oxygenation that it required.
My new (spontaneously sprung from the subconscious while teaching) interpretation of this:
Tim realized that he could not count on any additional energy from his own body beyond the barest minimum needed to stand and slowly walk on level ground. Therefore, he needed to depend on the other guy's energy and impetus to get his own skeleton moving to prevail.
I played with this idea briefly while working with my student . . . and quickly realized that it was pretty damn powerful! By keeping my skeleton balanced and the joints free, I was able to use any impetus from my student to propel my skeleton where it needed to go, with little or no perceived added effort or energy on my part. In fact, my student found the experience far harder to deal with than my "normal" movement, as it was nearly impossible to read (because my body was putting out virtually no signal of effort or energy) and my bones arrived with significant authority, by necessity unhindered by movement-stifling tension in order to allow his smallest input to drive my entire skeleton. (This is clearly, by the way, related to the idea of "feathers in your body but bowling balls in the bottoms of your shoes," or John's recent turn of phrase, "Float like a butterfly, root like a tree!")
My body even spontaneously replicated a couple peculiarities of Tim's movement, such as his tendency to strike the arms of the opponent when driven to by the opponent's movement. This is something I had almost never done spontaneously before--and yet now, newly inspired by one Tim's past lessons, there is was.
All of this happened towards the end of the scheduled lesson, so I didn't have much time to experiment with it. Much more to do!
In the erudite words of many Guided Chaos students through the years: "Damn, this shit is so cool. . . ."