MARTIAL APPLICATION OF TAI CHI CHUAN
Although most practitioners in western culture do it primarily for it’s health benefits, traditional tai chi chuan is also a complex internal martial art.
The self-defense and combative merits of tai chi rely greatly on the manipulation of energy and the ancient Taoist principle of soft overcoming hard. Circular movement and the emphasis on technique rather than brute force also have foundational roles.
With a graceful and somewhat poetic nature in appearance, each precise movement involved in tai chi has a combative application. During practice, they are performed at a slow pace with softness and suppleness in order to promote calmness and control. This helps to improve coordination with the mind and the involvement of the entire body in every motion. In actual combat, this transfers to quicker movement where an experienced practitioner will yield to any incoming force and neutralize attackers by staying joined and using their own energy against them.
The mind should be as disciplined as the body during combat and tai chi is regarded as one of the most effective arts for addressing this balance. Tai chi’s capacity to train the mind is one reason that it is often used as a supplement to other martial arts training. A good fighter is never angry and staying calm and composed during physical confrontation is essential.
Without addressing it’s martial application, instruction of tai chi is not complete. Even if the intention of practicing is strictly for health purposes, some of the most significant benefits that come with tai chi will be overlooked if the martial aspect is not understood and acknowledged by the instructor.