|Why learn tai chi?|
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Most martial arts are pretty effective, so why learn
Ask yourself: What are you looking for? What is your criteria? How old are you? How fit are you? Are you looking for kicking, punching, grappling? Do you want to fight in the ring?
Or do you want self defence for real life situations? Are you seeking a more philosophical component?
Tai chi teaches a wide variety of powerful, functional skills, along with an in-depth philosophical background. It encourages a calm, focussed mind and trains a supple, strong, flexible body.
Every school is different
No two martial arts schools are the same. Every instructor teaches according to their own values, interpretation of the material, and personal preferences.
Does the class teach a 'complete martial art'? Do you need to supplement the training with gym work, running or weight training? How concerned is the class with fitness and wellbeing?
Are the students friendly and relaxed? Is there a macho atmosphere? Can smaller students use the art effectively?
have trained with many instructors including yourself where I know that I want what
However, you have a training method that works and have students with real abilities. This is very rare in the internal martial arts.
In most martial arts, the younger, stronger, faster and most aggressive person has the advantage. The student of tai chi discovers how to employ a different approach.
More than combat
Tai chi is not simply a highly sophisticated, intelligent martial art. It offers so much more:
• A way to use millennia old Chinese wisdom in everyday life
• An unusual form of strength that requires only moderate practice to maintain
• Emotional composure in the face of confrontation and crisis
• The release of deeply-held muscular tension
• Philosophical study involving some of the most influential books ever written
• Boost energy
• Improve balance
• Cultivate confidence and resourcefulness
• Ease neck, knee, elbow and back problems
The ability to lift heavy weights, run, swim or workout in the gym may well improve your overall fitness level. But this kind of fitness will not help your tai chi training.
A student must learn how to use their body in a very different way. The body needs to become agile, flexible, adaptive, sensitive and strong. Engorged biceps are not going to help.
Tai chi fighting method
We are not interested in pitting strength against strength. Our aim is to evade strength, re-direct power and destabilise the attacker.
Instead of force against force, we circumvent. We break the root. We lead into emptiness. You do not need to be immensely strong in the upper body.
The power will be coming from the ground, so stronger legs and torso are more important.
The weakest part of any new starter is the mind. Modern minds are lazy, distracted, eager for gratification and entertainment.
The calm, detached, logical, disciplined mind of a martial artist is very different to that of a 'consumer'. We recognise that there is more to life than shopping, celebrity, fleeting fads and fancies.
Patience, tenacity, endurance... these develop a quiet strength.
Internal body use challenges conventional wisdom and the conventional application of strength. The body must be strong, however, the application of that strength is unorthodox.
The aim is to unite the entire body in application. Every action is a complete action. Every part of you does every movement.
Whole-body strength may sound strenuous but it is not. Instead of delegating the workload to your arms and shoulders, every part of the body is involved.
Instead of forcing your will upon the entire attacker, you limit your attention to a small part of their body and use everything you have on that target. The strategy comes from The Art of War.
There is no shortcut
Building up your strength takes time, practice, commitment and patience. In truth, you may not even realise it is happening. Taijiqaun training is not strenuous or stressful.
You undertake regular practice and let the mild exercise build up layers of strength.
The strength mounts up over time. Pretty soon you have a level of strength you never expected. This is not the strength required to lift a massive weight.
It is the strength to deliver a penetrating strike, snap a limb or flip an opponent without trying. It is strength that will aid you in your everyday life.
Conventional martial arts favour the younger, stronger, fitter student. By contrast; the internal martial arts encourage a mature mind.
Instead of retiring from combat at the age of 40, a student can look forward to spending the rest of their life training the art. Tai chi works the body in a very safe, healthy manner.
At what cost?
Success at any cost is not advocated by our school. The aim of tai chi is to avoid injury, not sustain it. Tai chi aims to incapacitate the opponent without sustaining any injury to yourself.
13 May 1994
Last updated 16 June 2023