Tai Chi Sword Training in the 21st Century
If you have been thinking about learning Tai Chi Sword, but have not been sure of the benefits, then this article will answer those questions. Because if one element appears anachronistic to a 21st century urban warrior, then it is surely the Tai Chi sword, 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...
Well, some would argue that Tai Chi sword form skills are always 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, then, the trusty sword Tai Chi practitioner is always there to help.
Others, however, argue that such weapons are merely metaphors fulfilling an interesting function at this crossroads in our Tai Chi evolution. Sword play can take us 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
But then, there are those that claim swords are inherently offensive articles and should be banned from even 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
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. (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.
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