A personal wiew on Tai Chi!
What is Tai Chi
I started to learn Tai Chi in the summer of 1975. The first year I practised just a short sequence of the form called "little Tai Chi". In the following summers I learned the 37 posture, Yang stile short form from the french teacher Jacques Dropsy who in his turn had learned Tai Chi as it was taught by the chinese teacher Cheng Man Ch´ing. In the way I learned Tai Chi it was always taught in combination with Zen meditation (Zazen) and the two practises have been a very important part of my life ever since. I have however not been practising regularly every day. I have had periods when I practised Zazen and not Tai Chi and vice versa. I have also had some periods when I have not practised either diciplin.
The emphasis in my Tai Chi learning and practise has been on the rythmic relaxing flow of the form and on its meditative and balancing qualities. I have learned a few of the applications, but as I have not had much posibility to practise them. I have instead put all energy into the form. During the years of training I have occasionally showed the the form to others and in some cases also helped people to learn some of the movements. I have however not felt ready to teach the complete form until 2005.
The form has been an important part of my life. It has taken 30 years to reach a point where I feel that I have something to give that is not just a copy of what I have learned myself but something that I have discovered and thus can add to the teachings.
As said my emphasis is not on Tai Chi as a martial art.
This however does not mean that my practise of the form excludes the use of Tai Chi for self defence.
The origin and tradition of Tai Chi is so intermingled with the aspect of self defence that it would be impossible to do
the form without being aware of this.
The tradition is to do the form slowly. This can seem non functional if you want to use it for self defence. However it is instead very wise and functional. By training and practising in slow motion your body will adapt to the movements and integrate them in your subconscious mind. As a matter of fact they are already there. The movements of Tai Chi are adapted to the natural movement patterns of your body and thus they "fit" perfectly into what is natural. The ultra rapid training helps to make every movement part of you and to become reflexes that will just be there when youm need them. The hope is of course that they will never be needed, but if for some reason you must fight they will be there and hopefully be sufficient and help you in the right moment. Believing this the emphasis on self defence takes another meaning. Fighting for practise or for fun or competition will lose some of it's temptation and might even feel unnecessary. It is of course a fact and in some aspects very good that Tai Chi is used as a sport and for competition, but more than beeing a sport it is a "real life practise". You train for life itself and as for using Tai Chi for self defence the training is for the real thing, for the moment when challenge is real and not for fun. The ultimate goal of your training should however be to never have to fight but to be able to avoid it.
It is utterly important to always remember that as a martial art Tai Chi is purely and solely for self defence. This is the heart of Tai Chi and it is without exception. The moment you compromise yourself and leave this "ground" and become an attacker you are lost. You will have lost moraly and you might win some fights but you will in the end always loose in relation to an opponent who stays on his or her safe ground and who has enough skill. A counter attack as part of the self defence might of cource be nescessary, but to be the agressor who starts a fight is never ever ok.
There are three things to aim at in Tai chi self defence. The first is to be able to stay out of fights and/or to have the attitude and skill nessecary to stop a fight without using violence. The second is to minimise violence if it becomes unavoidable. The third and last is to be the person standing in the end of a fight you cannot avoid.
As for myself I am a very peaceful man. I did not fight much as a boy although I had my share of conflicts.
As a grown up I have avoided fights mostly out of self preservation. After starting to learn Tai Chi I have never had to really use it
in a serious way. I consider this a victory and this "victory" might possibly be a result of my training in Tai Chi as well as Zazen.
Having learned Tai Chi and Zazen together means that focus is on balance as an essential part of the teaching.
Balance of body and mind are central in both diciplines. In Zazen the
emphasis is on the balance of the mind and in Tai chi the emphasis is on the balance of the body.
The difference is however minimal, especially
in Tai Chi because mind and body must always go together if you want to be in harmony.
In Tai Chi the emphasis is on balance, on moving in a way that makes every movement as "safe" as possible in respect to loosing your balance The form is built and taught in a way that always makes balance possible. Balance is however a relative thing and doing the form in absolute perfect balance is as hard as always being balanced in your central mind. There is always some small thing or some small part of your movement where unbalance lurks and where an opponent might be able to unbalance or uproot you.
That balance is essential in Tai Chi does however not mean that you have to be in perfect balance all the time. You can compare this with
life itself. Life is not always balanced. As non perfect beings we
make mistakes and sometimes we even might want to be "unbalanced" if it happens in secure circumstances like for instance when making love
or playing. Total balance is hardly desireable, except in certain circumstances and it can selldom be kept for very long. The conclusion
to make of this is that in Tai Chi, although it might be desirable to be in very good or perfect balance the emphasis should be on the
ability to regain balance if it is lost. This quality is at least as desirable or maybe even more so than keeping perfect
balance all the time.
Learning and training Tai chi
You should try to find a teacher whom you like and feel comfortable with.
Learning Tai Chi is hard if you dont have a teacher. From a book it is almost impossible to learn at least if you have not seen someone
doing it. From a video it is possible but very difficult.
There are many different forms and stiles of Tai Chi.
When you have learned a Tai Chi form or part of a form it is good to practise it regularly. Doing it each day can be a very good habit.
This will benefit you physically as well as mentally and you will probably incorporate the movements into your being rather soon.
There are a few things that I want to point out as valuable.
Lastly I will say something about Chi.
There is a force acting in every beeing and in everything around us. The chinese call it Chi or ki. In other languges it has other names.
It is hard but not impossible to consiously affect the flow of Chi. Affecting it
indirectly is what is most practical and easy for most of us. Tai Chi can be a way to help Chi flow more freely. This might
take it´s time and it is very different for different persons how easy changes will happen. Some people are more blocked than others or have
blocks in the flow of Chi that are harder to deal with.
Affecting the flow of Chi directly is more difficult and often takes a lot of practise. To train yourself in this aspect, doing the form regularly is very good. There are different training methods to learn to feel and even see the Chi force which can be applied and many of them can be found in different books and seminars dealing with shamanistic practise. Others can be found in books and seminars dealing with body oriented healing methods and different massage techniques. One of the most popular and common of these is Reiki healing.
Working with healing, body treatment and massage is probably one of the best ways to learn about Chi, the importance of Chi and the way it
flows through our bodies as well as the effects it has on our daily lives. I strongly suggest that you train yourself this way. It will
help you understand and feel Chi and it will also teach you the importance of love, empathy and how we are all connected with
each other and the world around us.
The Chi force flows through your whole body and the soles of your feet and palms of your hands are important areas where the flow is strong.
I whish you a joyfull and beneficial relation with Tai Chi
Tai Chi is offered as part of my work with individuals and groups and also when working with leadership training and staff support. Separate courses in Tai Chi might be given on request.Back to my main Tai Chi site
Patience Tai Chi
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