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How Useful is Tai Chi Sword Training?
Just how useful are these weapon skills for street defence? Or like so much of Tai Chi, is this just a distraction, an obsession with technique and application? How big is your weapon? How lethal is your sword?
Some hard-liners in the world of Tai Chi still argue that sword skills are very useful, if, for example, the supermarket cheese-slicing machine has broken down and the assistant is asking if anyone should be carrying a large slicing implement on their person. At that moment, the trusty sword Tai Chi practitioner can step forward.
Others, however, argue that such weapons are merely metaphors fulfilling an interesting function at this crossroads in our Tai Chi evolution. Sword play takes us into other realms, outside the old dusty arena of martial monologues and into a new space where we learn once more about rhythm, adaptation and yielding.
Tai Chi Sword Training today
Finally, there are those that claim swords are inherently offensive articles and should be banned from even blog posts, training halls or ever being spoken of. These people have obviously never attended a Teapotmonk sword class, in which all age groups wield wooden swords, mops, French baguettes, bamboo walking sticks or plastic Darth Vader light beams.
Benefits of Learning Tai Chi Sword
Teapot Tai Chi practitioners are not a precious bunch and we tend to learn 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 Tai Chi Form applications - Forms that always spark off ludicrous arguments about martial prowess and street defence practicalities - Tai Chi 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, cruise missile or fighter jet. (Though I'm told some classes do).
And when we let go of the non-sense that engulfs many a Tai Chi class, this art really has the capacity to become a revolutionary practice: For when the teacher steps aside, and engages rather than directs, something new is born.
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.
Want to read more on Tai Chi Sword?
Where to get a sword? How to learn at home? What background do you need? Can you start as a complete beginner? Find out in these extra articles and introductory videos on Beginners Tai Chi Sword
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