Tai Chi Chuan: Notes on the Classical v the New Age

Tai Chi Chuan…Pleasure or Function?

Watching Tai Chi Chuan on the youtube this morning, and it was interesting, very interesting. Young chinese gal swung into a modern Tai Chi New Age version, and my mind began to dissect the bits and pieces, the rights and wrongs. Of course, one could argue that there is no right and wrong, there is only interpretation.

tai chi chuanBut, in this matter of Tai Chi Chuan, should there be interpretation? The young gal flowed like a sparkler in molasses, whirling chi energy, wielding chi power, and was as beautiful as a constellation in the summer sky. But…shouldn’t function define the mess?

The original Tai Chi was low, powerful, thrusting poppings of power that would slay a dragon or four. Her new age Tai Chi Chi was low and slow, and there were circles in her movements, but the arms were not arranged in the unbendable circle. Rather, they were bendable and wonderful to see…and useless in a fight.

Standing on one leg executing Open Kick…but borrowing from Shaolin for the length and the flair and the dazzling impression. But a kick done that way can easily be seen, and easily prevented…often at cost to the kicker. Shouldn’t the kick be light and fleeting, non-balletic, in and out and defeating the attacker on the proper level?

Still, she rippled and writhed, and one could see the energy pulsating up the form and out the limbs. But–I am beginning to hate that word ‘but’–the energy was contained in body, not brought forth as it would be in combat function. A form done within oneself, without manifesting in the outer, is a form that stifles in nature (in spirit), no matter how pleasing to the eye.

The crowd, of course, loved what she was doing; she enraptured the eye with her grace. But what does a crowd know? Is this not just a titallation of the group mind, a playing to the politics of the moment and the group think and the base desire?

I think of the real power available to the practitioner, should they restrict themselves to function, and eschew the clap of hand and intake of breath. I think of the power that ripples unseen, which is what good Tai Chi Chuan should be…invisible to the eye and pleasing to the Gods. Not the masses nor even the muse, not the gold and the glory, but the inner reality of the soul in emptiness, an emptiness that is manipulated beyond the ken of man.

That is the human soul: an expanding of an Awareness that is beyond the eye and the ear…and shouldn’t that be the thrust of Tai Chi? Shouldn’t the true power be wielded in the spaces of the soul, and used only to enhance the quality of life in this universe? Shouldn’t, when we practice our Tai Chi, play to the Gods first, ourselves second, and the people last?
tai chi chuan


4 thoughts on “Tai Chi Chuan: Notes on the Classical v the New Age

  1. philh3

    I am a practitioner of Taijiquan. At the kwoon where I practice–Still Water Tai Chi Ctr in Fairfax, Virginia–we practice Taiji martially. We dissect the form to reveal its applications and work those applications with a training partner. We work push hands to develop martial awareness. Taiji is Chinese Boxing. If you take away the martial aspects, it is simply moving meditation.

    Call me old fashioned, but I believe Taijiquan should be practiced as a full-fledged martial discipline, which is what it was devised to be.

    The above having been said, the wellness and longevity promotion Taiji practice affords is much more than just icing on the cake, for having good self defense skills is not much good if you are in poor health.

    —Phillip A. Humphries

    1. aganzul Post author

      Thanks Phillip. Your words are true. Beauty is wonderful but function is more important, and, in true tai chi chuan, defines the beauty. Thanks for commenting, and have a great work out. Al

  2. Chuck Dixon

    One martial artist said that to learn Tai chi chuan and not learn it as a martial art was like going to a shoe store to buy a pair of shoes and coming away satisfied with the empty box. He later found that what he had was an empty box.


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