DF: Tai Chi as a martial practice

Clark Kent

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Sep 11, 2006
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Tai Chi as a martial practice
By Russell - 10-02-2009 05:11 PM
Originally Posted at: Deluxe Forums


Tai Chi will not teach you how to fight. Nor will Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu or any other style you can name. Far too many people indulge in my-style-is-best criticisms. Every style teaches us certain skills or techniques. The effective use of those techniques is a skill in and of itself. Any statement that denounces the effectiveness of any art as a whole should be dismissed. Regardless of how well stated the denouncement is, focusing on the question of which style is best misses the point entirely. So, whatever your training, if you want to be able to rely on what you've learned, you need to practice fighting....

The particular skills and techniques one can develop from Tai Chi are high quality movement, greater awareness, relaxation in the face of force as well as many effective traps and joint locks.

Tai Chi forms train a person to utilize their body as a whole unit in every action. Having a skilled Tai Chi player push you is an interesting experience. A large person can be hurtled very easily when pushed correctly. The same principles can be applied to any movement; punch, kick, elbow, whatever... Why do something ten times fairly well, when you get the same effect by doing it right once.

Push hands exercises help develop a players ability to neutralize force while maintaining good position. Disrupting your partners center of balance effectively minimizes their ability to apply force to you or to counter blows to them.

The sensitivity to force that you find in push hands is particularly useful in grappling ranges The fluidity of movement and sense of how to leverage your partners force translate nicely into Jiu Jitsu style rolling.

Now, high quality strikes, heightened awareness, and relaxation in the face of force (faster response times) mean nothing unless you learn to apply them. Likewise all the Chin-Na (joint locks and traps) you know does you no good if you can only pull it off in the lab, so to speak. You need good sparring partners, preferably from different styles, and regular legitimate practice. Sparring should as intense as each of you are able to handle but always keep in mind it's about developing your ability to fight and testing yourself. It's not about tearing each other apart. Find a group of people you can trust, then throw away the rules. Try everything thoroughly, keep what works for you and discard the rest.

These observations are based in my training in Muay Thai, BJJ, and Tai Chi in Portland, OR. What I mention here are strictly the skills that one could develop within a year of Tai Chi practice with a martial focus. My goal for this post is to encourage discussion of how people have realistically used the martial side of Tai Chi in their training.



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