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The Depth of Tai Chi

QUESTION:  "Although I practice Tai Chi Ch’uan vigorously,
I still find problems with my physical and mental health.
Why is this so?"

The article you are about to read does not address what style of Tai Chi is best, or how to use Tai Chi for defense, or give you a history of some obscure master. It will speak of a more important aspect of Tai Chi seldom discussed: how to achieve the most in your Tai Chi practice. Who really cares about ancient Tai Chi masters? You only care about self achievement. What you really want is to learn Tai Chi and become accomplished at it.

grandmasterYou are not interested in the eternal debate, is my style better than yours? At first styles have little interest to you, you simply want to learn Tai Chi. Most likely you never even knew there were styles in Tai Chi practice, and who really cares anyway? All you want is to learn Tai Chi. From what you have seen on television Tai Chi looks so graceful and relaxing, and you want to experience this. You have been told Tai Chi has the potential to heal many ailments, so you want that. Along with all the other good news, you find that Tai Chi is also considered a very high form of self defense. What more could you ask for from one simple form? You jump into your training head first, eager to learn and ready to practice hard.

But when you have learned the form you practice faithfully only to find boredom setting in. You expected so much and you seem to have come to a dead end. Where is this state of relaxation, inner peace and healing they spoke about? Before long practice stops and growth declines until nothing is left but a memory.

Now ask yourself these questions: Why do so many older people practice Tai Chi year after year and seem to enjoy it so much? What have they found that you could not find? Is there something more to Tai Chi that you may have overlooked? . Although hundreds upon hundreds of people practice Tai Chi, few understand what true practice entails.

The human body has to be disciplined, for human nature tends to make us lazy. Without motivation, we would prefer to just sit back and do nothing. As you can well understand by my comments I consider the human mind to be a major obstacle in Tai Chi development. Without this overall development the deeper meanings of Tai Chi will always remain hidden from you. The truth of Tai Chi is not meant to be a "hidden" secret. In fact we stumble over truth each day of our lives, but we stand up, brush ourselves off and move on, without ever noticing truth.


In fact many other types of exercises use movements similar to Tai Chi movement. Watch a graceful ballot dancer move and you may be reminded of Tai Chi movement. Of course a dancer moves according to a choreographer’s vision, whereas a Tai Chi practitioner’s moves are based on a martial artist’s visions and purpose. With any amount of visual investigation into Tai Chi movements you will discover Tai Chi movements are everywhere. Why then is Tai Chi movement so special? Why not just dance instead of learning Tai Chi Ch’uan?

Because Tai Chi is much more than simply a series of connected movements. Tai Chi is a very special state of mind. A mind centered towards two special objectives, namely attaining control over its self, and stimulation of the inner healing and nurturing energies which we all possess. This energy is called "CHI". By use of our posture we can channel Chi to the points in the body where it is needed most. The postures of Tai Chi Ch'uan create pathways used to transfer chi from one point to another. Though postures are important in the practice of Tai Chi Ch’uan, they are only the first step in total Tai Chi development.

No one style of Tai Chi is better than another. They all possess the same essential qualities and objectives. Only in the defensive interpretations do styles differ based on fighting strategies. To ask which style is best is surely a beginner’s question. Advanced Tai Chi players know the true secret of Tai Chi lies beyond the scope of the human mind. It lies in the "no mind" (Wu Wei) aspect of Tai Chi philosophy. As long as mind takes part in your Tai Chi practice barriers will be erected that will obscure the vision of true Tai Chi practice. Our Mind’s nature is to think, analyze, evaluate, criticize, worry, doubt. Ask yourself, how can you relax with all this going on?

Where did Tai Chi Ch’uan come from? Many would attribute the creation of Tai Chi to a martial arts individual in Chinese history, such as Chang San Fung. Man’s mind is always searching for facts, dates and times. However, history does not always provide these answers. The answers often depend on guess work on our part. The birth of Christ is celebrated on December 25th, but everyone is aware that nobody really knows when Christ was born. Mankind needed a date and gave us one, now everybody is happy. It was once said,

"I often wish...that I could rid the world of the tyranny of facts. What are facts but compromises? A fact merely marks the point where we have agreed to let the investigation cease."

We as a species dislike mysterious beliefs. We want facts to back up everything. Although with each passing day the benefits of Tai Chi practice are being documented as fact in medical journals, the real mystery still remains: How does Tai Chi work these miracle cures we often read about?

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