First in a new series of uninhibited and totally unjustified rants on the state of 21st century Tai Chi from the monk in the pot.
If I hear any more of this nonsense I’m going to have withdraw to planet teapot. Why is it that the Tai Chi world is still so divided over it’s martial and health benefits? Why are so many schools or individuals dismissed for emphasising one side over the other?
As someone who came to Tai Chi from other martial arts, I initially came looking for fighting techniques, but I soon discovered that it was a superficial and rather silly search in an age of 'smart' bombs, 'intelligent' warfare, cyber-wars and drone strikes. I found something far more significant than a fighting method. I found something more powerful and deep within the art that had little to do with prowess, speed or explosive energy techniques. I found a deep training in rooting, grounding, yielding, structural strength, breathing, co-ordination and balance that had little to do with competition nor winning nor combat. I found an art rich in philosophy and an art that epitomised cultural diversity whilst offering tools to embrace change and evolution.
Tai Chi is such a diverse and historically broad discipline that it’s impossible for it to be all things to all people. Ever since the early 1900’s the art has been evolving, seeking an audience for its many variations. Now, whether your school has still not evolved, whether it has frozen in 19th century China or migrated to other lands, whether your school has chosen to employ Tai Chi in the exclusive field of martial, health, spirituality, environmentalism, politics, growing-sprouts, surfing, stamp-collecting or Cartesian philosophy - hey, it's down to you.
Seems a bit of a shame to me though if your'e still in the 19th century combat mode. Bit like spending years developing callouses on your knuckles in order to gain an 'Iron Fist' only to find yourself getting lasered in your first fight. At some point you have to ask yourself, is there a more productive way of spending your time? It's a big broad universe out there - so much that there is room for everyone. So let’s put the endless debates about one interpretation being better than the other to one side shall we? Call it a new year thing if you will.
Contrary to popular belief, the teapotmOnk (paul read) is neither a mOnk nor a teapOt. He is, however, a writer on Tai Chi, course-creator & teacher with more than 25 years of experience. He can be found wandering between Andalucia (Spain) & Devon (Uk). More here.
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