It's a funny thing. Teaching weapons can either excite or alienate students. But the physical handling of some external tool can enable a sense of rhythm otherwise unreachable with empty hand systems. (Or at least more difficult to find).
But watch beware of the language you use. Trying to describe the benefits, applications and practical uses of weapons training can often backfire. Teachers (once again) end up engraving their views on the class rather than exploring and discovering. After all, the art that can be described, is not the art.
Where is the art in martial?
The Art in Martial Arts - lets remember - is not necessarily literal. Some insist it is. Others just snigger and get on with life. Trying to explain a Picasso or Seurat may satisfy some of the wordsmiths amongst you, but for others it may remove the passion, the texture, the subjectivity and beauty.
Words carry more than definiton. Words are not neutral. They carry cultural and temporal meanings: Particularly if you insist on using Mandarin in class, wearing shiny clothes from another culture and selling bean curd to a class hungry for simple icons.
So forget the past. Be inspired by it, but then let it go. It's how we evolve.
Can Tai Chi Evolve?
Do we trace back the origins of Tai Chi history in order to replicate it's original purpose and training methods - an arguable end in itself some say - or do we track it's migratory movements, it's skips and bounds, it's trips and stumbles and see where it leads us?
It's an important question.
For if we step back, apply a little vision and insight, something new may still arise. Something that speaks the language of a new era, something that speaks with another language than words.
My health, my form, my skills, my beliefs, my traditions, my school, my lineage, my, my my....
Extend outwards and let go of yourself. Swing and flow, said Cheng Man Ching. And in so doing, watch and follow.
In the exercise featured in the video above - we do no more than just that. Move and watch. Open a dialogue and see where it leads. Only we use not words, but spirals of movements, breath and the conversation of dance.
Can Tai Chi teach rhythm?
The Past should inspire us, but not shackle us. Rethinking the Tai Chi form is something every generation has done. And it's being done again.
Let me know what you think about rhythm as a tool for learning. And should you wish to begin learning, take a look at these Tai Chi courses here.
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