The Big Martial Question
Today week we are going to focus on weapons, because if one element appears anachronistic to a 21st century urban warrior, then it surely the training in sword that Tai Chi practitioners still love to promote.
And the Tai Chi martial agenda is certainly broad: broad sword, sabre, staff, fan, ruler, compass, ball, poppadom, tortilla, fish-finger…the list of tai chi weapons is as endless as the spelling of Tai Chi, or is that Tai ji, or perhaps Taijiquan or...
Learning Swords in the 21st Century
Exploring Tai Chi in Each Class
We are not a precious bunch of practitioners and tend to use only what is at hand, for Sword play encourages the all important notion of "play". And it is precisely when we relax in "play" that we learn the important things in life.
Unlike the traditional taught Tai Chi Form applications - that always spark off ludicrous arguments about martial prowess and street defence practicalities - sword exercises side step such nonsense, promoting a collective intrigue, experimentation and fresh approach to learning and acquiring new skills. rarely does the class degenerate into debates around energy projection from the tip of the blade, or best defence sword techniques against an oncoming tank or fighter jet.
And when we let go of the non-sense, Tai Chi taught without egos or gurus - really has the capacity to become a revolutionary practice: For when the teacher steps aside, and engages rather than directs, something new is born, and out of this the art breathes not the dusty atmosphere of sweaty training halls from the 19th century, but fresh new air arising from the very place of practice and the very people that are practising.
This way of teaching a class creates its own agenda, and if this is something new to your martial background, then, in all honesty, it's time to let go of the control switch, put down the reins of power and watch what happens when we learn from one another, rather than from the dusty tomes of past decades.
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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