My meeting with a Tai chi teacher

JadecloudAlchemist

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I had the chance to meet a Tai chi teacher who was teaching a family style I wanted to learn. The Sun style. I told him I was looking for a good teacher who can show the martial applications in the form.
I was told that he does not teach the application and he is not a Tai chi chuan teacher but a Tai chi teacher. Meaning he only teaches it for health and that the martial applications were a narrow view of Tai chi.
He went on further to say Sun style was created for the intent of healing.
Now I do not know much about Tai chi chuan however I thought it was a martial art with application and I thought Sun style being mixed with Bagua and Hsing yi would have a good amount of martial application.
His teacher is Paul Lam I believe the DVD's on Tai chi for arthritis or what not any comments as to what he is said is correct or am I holding on to a misconception of Tai chi as a martial art. Note: I do understand its health benefits and I have seen and learned some Old frame Chen with applications but just wondering is their a higher goal with tai chi and martial applications that I am missing or is this another "New age" teacher.
 

bluemtn

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Unfortunately, quite a bit of Tai Chi teachers focus only on health and relaxation. Some even go and take something like an 8- week course, just to teach at (lets say) your local community center. Not that this is horrible, and everyone should avoid places like that like it has the plague. However, if (and since) you are interested in martial applications, they are still around, but you might have to do some digging to locate one.

That's just what I've found, although I haven't looked at my ba gua teacher's tai chi class... Best wishes in your journey!
 

Nyarlathotep

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Tai Chi is often taken as an extension of Chi Na, and seen as part and parcel of Taoist alchemy.
Alternatively the awareness of body structure and the emphasis on natural movement can lead to healthier postural and muscular habits.

Either or both of these could be seen as the 'higher goal' in relation to health.

However.

Tai Chi shorn of it's applications is just another kind of interpretive dance.

IMO the real higher goal of Tai Chi is the ability to sense another's intent and respond appropriately to violence without yourself losing equilibrium (mental or physical). This skill only comes through repeated and correct martial training with other people, and requires proper instruction.
A bad teacher will set you back decades and so should be avoided at all costs.
 

NanFeiShen

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When i first started down the path of Taijiquan, my instructor always said the following to me:
"Taijiquan is first and for-mostly a Martial Art, but it has certain health benefits for people unable to perform other sports, due to age , disability and injury, and the only way to gain the health benefits is to train in it as a Martial Art"

IMHO, to view and train Taijiquan, as anything less than a Martial Art, is to disrespect the origins, dishonour the founders and disregard the history of a very unique art.
To gain benefits from Taijiquan, one should practice low, one should sweat, one should raise the heart rate, one should feel the blood pounding through the body, because Qi development is enhanced by the increase of Oxygen, mixing with the flowing of the blood.
One should practice each posture to the best ability, each and every time, and perform the form as if fighting off a number of opponents, graceful gentle and soft, slow and fast, while keeping the gaze alive and focused on your surrounding, with intention and desire.
If this is how you practice, you are on the right track otherwise you are simple only "playing Taiji".
 
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JadecloudAlchemist

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Thank you for your replies. I think what had me question things was if I am to learn a said style be it Tai chi chuan or whatever I would like to learn all that it is about. I told this teacher I wanted to learn the martial application to 1. better understand the art and 2. if someone for what ever reason tried to punch me I could possibly use it to defend myself.
In which the reply was well if you understand Tai chi well enough you will never be in that situation to begin with. I found that to be a cope out answer true to a degree but in reality things happen. Another teacher when I was learning Chen style when I asked him how do you deal with a grappler on your back he replied Fajing I knew he was not for me.
I truly believe Tai chi chuan is a great art But I am unsure of my ignorance
of Tai chi chuan being a martial art with healing applications or a healing art with martial applications or that some teacher's here in Miami are just not up to par.
 

terryl965

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Thank you for your replies. I think what had me question things was if I am to learn a said style be it Tai chi chuan or whatever I would like to learn all that it is about. I told this teacher I wanted to learn the martial application to 1. better understand the art and 2. if someone for what ever reason tried to punch me I could possibly use it to defend myself.
In which the reply was well if you understand Tai chi well enough you will never be in that situation to begin with. I found that to be a cope out answer true to a degree but in reality things happen. Another teacher when I was learning Chen style when I asked him how do you deal with a grappler on your back he replied Fajing I knew he was not for me.
I truly believe Tai chi chuan is a great art But I am unsure of my ignorance
of Tai chi chuan being a martial art with healing applications or a healing art with martial applications or that some teacher's here in Miami are just not up to par.


Can it hurt to try the art and see if it is for you and if not at least you gave it a chance.
 

Steel Tiger

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Thank you for your replies. I think what had me question things was if I am to learn a said style be it Tai chi chuan or whatever I would like to learn all that it is about. I told this teacher I wanted to learn the martial application to 1. better understand the art and 2. if someone for what ever reason tried to punch me I could possibly use it to defend myself.
In which the reply was well if you understand Tai chi well enough you will never be in that situation to begin with. I found that to be a cope out answer true to a degree but in reality things happen. Another teacher when I was learning Chen style when I asked him how do you deal with a grappler on your back he replied Fajing I knew he was not for me.
I truly believe Tai chi chuan is a great art But I am unsure of my ignorance
of Tai chi chuan being a martial art with healing applications or a healing art with martial applications or that some teacher's here in Miami are just not up to par.

Its very heartening to hear someone say they want to learn about the whole art. So often these days you hear people wanting to learn an art only for health benefits, or sporting competition, or martial application. If the art has all these things learn about all of them evenif only one or two interest you. Learn the history, understand the principles, how the modern shape of the art was developed, its all beneficial if you let it be.

Taiji, like any of the internal arts, is a long road but well worth it ultimately. The end is not important only how you get there.


Just in reference to the question you posed your Chen style teacher, you might like to have a look at Yang Jwing Ming's book "Tai Chi Chin Na", a very good book about Qinna in Taiji forms, specifically Yang, but it could be applied to others.
 
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JadecloudAlchemist

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[QUOTECan it hurt to try the art and see if it is for you and if not at least you gave it a chance][/QUOTE] Oh I have seen the Sun style 73 form
and have seen some applications and its history as well as its interesting mix of Bagua and Hsing yi got me interest.
Here is something I found weird the Taoist Tai chi society.
Now the Taoist Tai chi society admits they practice Yang Tai chi 108 form
however they modified it for health reasons. The applications of the 108 form are there but if someone does not show you it then you will not see it. I do not know if Sun created Sun tai chi for the sake of health reason.
And that is a good question for Sun stylist.

I agree with you Steel Tiger if the art has say weapons I think it is important to train with them same as if the art has martial application I think it helps you better understand the forms. As in why do you do a single whip or play the guitar but when you see what it can do defence and offense it makes you appricate the theory and the art and that goes also for kata practice in Japanese art. Example I watched a Shotokan class and they performed kata the Sensei explain the hands touching the floor was meant to imply that you are picking up rocks to throw at the opponent. Just somethings to think about I suppose of my mindless rant :p
 

East Winds

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JadecloudAlchemist,

Paul Lam is a recognised Master of Sun style, but he has modified part of the Sun form to treat Arthritis (and very seccessful he has been with this too). However a couple fo things need to be said. You can become an Instructor of Tai Chi for Arthritis after attending a weekend workshop where you will learn a very basic set based on Sun style, but one which is very appropriate for Arthritis sufferers. If you want to learn the martial side of Sun, then this is not the place for you. I agree with the others who say that you cannot learn Taijiquan without knowing the martial side of the art. In fact it cannot be Taijiquan WITHOUT the martial aspect. As for the Taoist Tai Chi Society, the least said about them the better!! Very best wishes in you quest for learning.

Very best wishes
 

bigfootsquatch

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Everything that I've seen Paul Lam done with Yang style is more wushu/competition than traditional. I believe his Sun long form is also the competition form. I know all of his dvds are geared for health like most tai chi dvds, so I'm sure his instructors all gear towards health also.

I'm sure Tai Chi was originally practiced as a martial art without worrying too much about the health benefits, they just happened, like all martial arts. Many take martial arts, rather it be tai chi or karate, for health now. Some care for self defense and some don't. If one practices karate without knowing the martial applications then he/she is doing aerobics, which is still beneficial. If one practices tai chi without the martial applications, then he/she will still derive benefits.
The problem lies in the fact that karate instructors KNOW(well most know!) the hows and whys of the moves, whether they are teaching someone self defense or getting them in shape.
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Tai Chi instructors who teach for health only usually have no clue about the form applications however. This likely means that they have no clue about chi, internal movement etc and picked tai chi up from some videos or a health club....The student will still get benefits, but they will probably get just as much benefit, if not more, from ballet--not saying this is bad, since ballet develops coordination, flexibility, and strength.

why waste time learning an internal art incorrectly when you can take an external art or dance from a competant teacher?
 

East Winds

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bigfootsquatch,

No argument from me on your post. I would say however that Paul Lam has a good grounding in traditional forms although his Yang form (for Diabetes) comes from Yang Shou Zhong. He is at least a medical Doctor, so certainly has some knowledge of the health benefits of Tai Chi. He of course does not claim to teach the martial aspect of Taijiquan and promotes his system purely for health. So there is honesty in what he does.

Very best wishes
 

Changhfy

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hey Jadecloud,

(Jade Cloud)-Another teacher when I was learning Chen style when I asked him how do you deal with a grappler on your back he replied Fajing I knew he was not for me.


I wouldnt dismiss this comment altogether, I understand your pov and more than likely you were 100 percent correct. But I have seen internal Masters release a clinch with Fa Jing (Fa Gihng).

So it is possible, however improbable that this particular Sifu was able to do such. But it is possible...

Internal systems have a wide spectrum of benefits, I wish you the best in your endeavours. If your ever in China look up a Master Li Guocheng from Shandong. Li Laoshi teaches the traditional Yang Taiji long form, Wu Xing Tong Bei, Bagua, Xingyi Quan. He also teaches San Da applications for Taiji Quan. Its definitely worth the time and effort.


take care,
 
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