Tai Chi is not easy.

Discussion in 'Chinese Internal Arts : Taijiquan (Tai Chi) and Qi' started by Robert Agar-Hutton, Jan 22, 2019.

  1. Robert Agar-Hutton

    Robert Agar-Hutton Yellow Belt

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    By Robert Agar-Hutton © 2019

    How do you feel when you see on TV or in a movie, a few old people moving slowly, looking relaxed, smiling, doing Tai Chi.

    Well I absolutely HATE it!

    Why do I hate it? It’s because they ALWAYS seem to make it look easy, and Tai Chi is not easy at all. The idea that it’s easy is a lie, that I and most other Tai Chi instructors accidentally perpetrate on people.

    I get people of all ages joining my Tai Chi groups and either half way through their first lesson (and also during lessons weeks, months, or even years later) they get this Grim, Horrified, Scared, Desperate look on their face. The ‘look’ comes as they try to do something that should be easy (because the instructor and most of the other students are doing it easily) but suddenly their brain has gone into ‘melt-down’, or their left and right hands and feet get inextricably mixed up and co-ordination becomes non-existent.

    Why does this happen? It’s because GOOD Tai Chi is and should be difficult. You should be continually asking your mind and your body to do something that is slightly more complicated or slightly more refined or subtle than what you have ever done before. And when that happens, when your instructor thinks you are ready to progress to the next level but your brain thinks ‘No way’ then that’s what is going to cause the ‘look’.

    So, how do you stop the problem... The answer is that you don’t. In fact, you welcome it with open arms and a big (and perhaps slightly goofy) smile. Why, because it means that you are making progress - OK it won’t feel like that - but you are. And more importantly, one of the most important things that we can hope to get from our Tai Chi practice is a young (‘Young’ being a relative term; Young for our age.) body and mind. The mind is helped to stay young and active by making it learn new things, making it think ‘WHAT THE !!!!! is going on’ and then going on with your practice so that the difficult becomes easy. Indeed, I have even seen students turn the ‘impossible’ into ‘possible’ into ‘easy peasy’.

    Now, as I always say to students, Tai Chi isn’t magic and it won’t make you live forever and it won’t guarantee good health. But it does and can work seeming wonders for many people day after day.
     
  2. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    My wife generally tells me I am martial arts crazy....also when we were first married she always told me I would never make any money teaching martial arts, particularly taijiquan, because I was to serious. And she was right, I was. Use to get upset with folks in taijiquan not wanting to know the applications, or do push hands properly.... Basically I wold say "I am not a fan of the dance". Had a student walk out once because I was asked by another student if Taiji was a martial art and I said "Yes, but I am not teaching it as such" The other student said "I'M NOT STUDYING KARATE" and stormed out, never to return.

    I have mellowed with age and now it does not bother I would teach what they want to learn, and if they do not want to know the marital arts of it, that is fine too
     
  3. donald1

    donald1 Senior Master

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    That's seems strange. Personally I've practiced Tai chi for a couple years now and I've thought Tai chi was fairly easy to learn. Now obviously I still make mistakes. Push hands is still something that confuses me. Push hands almost seems like chess in a sense that that it's about strategy. Almost no brute force is used. (I'm not great at chess either). Maybe it's just my experience in other styles but I don't think I've ever really struggled with tai tai in general at least .

    Whatever the case, good luck to you!
     
  4. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    Push hands is not chess, it is about sensitivity. And easy or difficulty can depend on how deeply you want to delve into it....and the Shifu teaching it and how traditional he/she is, and how deep he/she wants to go, or can go
     
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  5. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    It's easy when you do it wrong.

    I'm not saying that it can't be easy for some people to learn. But the truth is that the closer that someone trains it as a fighting system the more difficult it becomes. Movements begin to have purpose and function. It's no longer carelessly waving arms around the air.

    This is easy. Movement without purpose.
     
  6. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    I think when people say easy they mean the physicality of it e.g a tai chi session won't be as physically tiring as a Muay Thai session or something like that. Not that it's easy physically either but it's not as intense as other styles. And hey that's totally fine it's not a criticism. It's just got a different emphasis
     
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  7. Robert Agar-Hutton

    Robert Agar-Hutton Yellow Belt

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    Although I primarily teach Yang style the video you posted (watched the first 3 and a half minutes) was Sun style and looked fine. Obviously at beginner level but nothing wrong with the moves?
     
  8. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    I don't think it's easy, at all, I found the very slow accurate movement, to be very tiring and hard to Ballance, I do my kata in a similar way for the isometric benefits it brings, the more burning question is, is it a martial art o stand up yoga ?
     
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  9. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    I don't think that's Sun
     
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  10. Robert Agar-Hutton

    Robert Agar-Hutton Yellow Belt

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    Totally depends on the teacher - it can be a 'martial art' or it can be 'stand up yoga' - although the body mechanics are quite different from most yoga.

    Mind you - re 'martial art' - I'm biased as yesterday I released a video series 'Tai Chi for Self Defence' on my learning portal. :)
     
  11. Robert Agar-Hutton

    Robert Agar-Hutton Yellow Belt

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    Have a look at: - I think you will see the connection?
     
  12. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    I'm aware that it can be a martial art, but rather than the old folks in the park , which you used as an example, arnt doing a " martial art" rather health giving movement, that is no more or less useful for self defence than yoga or ballroom dancing or power lifting, until the point we're you speed it up consiserably and have a bit of sparring, then it maybe is ?
     
  13. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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    I do some Sun and I have seen that video before, and I still do not thing what she is doing is Sun. Her leaning posture is not Sun actually, it is much closer to Wu style, and I do not think she is doing Wu either. To be honest I have no idea what she is doing as it applies to style, not saying good or bad, just do not know what style she is supposed to be doing, or if it is any style at all or one of the many competition forms that it out there. I too and a long time Yang guy, but I have trained Chen, retraining Wu and starting to Train Sun
     
  14. wanderingstudent

    wanderingstudent Yellow Belt

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    Yes. And this is a major misunderstanding about Tai Chi. My Sifu did the whole China trip thing. He visited Chen village, he saw people of all ages throwing and hitting each other; he thought this is Tai Chi!?!? Jokingly, of course. The point being you need all aspects for any art to be a martial art.

    My lineage says you should train in both- the martial and the art. You get double benefit. Training only in the art, is only that; you will have no martial use.
     
  15. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    Yes agree, so a question then to an expert, assuming that if done " properly" it's no better if worse, than any other chinese martial art, why has tai chi in particular been hi jacked jy the new age, moving meditation movement,

    In the UK Tai chi is every where, in any square mile in a city, you can find at least one tai chi class run by a middle aged chubby woman who has never been anywhere near a martial arts class, or a gym for that matter, yet none of them would be as reckless as to run say a Lau GA gung fu class,
     
  16. wanderingstudent

    wanderingstudent Yellow Belt

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    So, this group I met up with; I mentioned my training and one of them commented about wanting to learn Tai Chi. Another member said, "ah, you can just do our forms at Tai Chi speed and get the same workout". I invited them both to a seminar, to educate them; neither took me up on the offer.

    You don't know, what you don't know.

    Another one of our sayings is "Practice in forms only, will make your Gung Fu useless in old age".

    Do you know the Lau Gar?
     
  17. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    Yes I spent a chunk of my late 20s doing Lau gar, and very good it was to
     
  18. Robert Agar-Hutton

    Robert Agar-Hutton Yellow Belt

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    Also fond memories of Lau Gar - long long ago :)
     
  19. jameschen

    jameschen White Belt

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    yes, tai chi is is difficult, complicated
     
  20. PhilE

    PhilE Yellow Belt

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    Id say learning the basic structure of the movements can seem easy, 'getting it,' is a different matter.123
     

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