Most people relate Tai Chi as the slow motion exercise performed by old people in the park who are doing their best to get a little exercise in their advanced years. Thus most people have absolutely no idea that Tai Chi is actually a very sophisticated martial art form.
Tai Chi is a westernized spelling adaption of Taijiquan which translates to Supreme Ultimate Fist. The martial applications of Taijiquan are so numerous that volumes have been written for each of the five major styles and each of those individual styles would take a lifetime to learn correctly.
Taijiquan incorporates all four fighting modalities: striking, kicking, joint locking and takedowns within the beautiful flowing movements witnessed by the untrained observer. The forms are just performed with the techniques hidden. The story as to why this is so begins in feudal China where the warlords kept a close eye on the peasantry and did not allow martial training in fear of peasant’s greater numbers gaining enough advantage to overthrow them. Thus the peasants hid the martial training within the forms so as not to attract the ever watching eye of the oppressors.
While Tai Chi has become extremely popular for western mass consumption, Taijiquan really only appeals to a select few that have the patience, diligence and internal fortitude to put in the time and energy required to learn and absorb the proper philosophies, concepts and techniques demanded by this living art. It is not easy. Unlike external martial arts like Karate or Tae Kwon Do where students can see martial progress within six to twelve months, students of Taijiquan will not be able use their art for martial purposes until they change internally and philosophically. This often takes many years to accomplish simply because it takes time to over write the competitive and combative western world view programmed into each and everyone us.
The good Taijiquan martial artist learns not to compete and not to resist. He learns how to join, neutralize and control using the least amount of his own energy while at the same time taking advantage of the opponent’s energy. These skills are tried and true but are not easy to obtain or master.
Taijiquan is an extremely deep living art form that enhances the student’s physical capacities, emotional balance, mental clarity and spiritual wisdom to forge an extremely competent martial artist who is striving towards the ultimate goal of self mastery.