The way of Tao
Original post made on Sep 13, 2007
Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, September 12, 2007, 12:00 AM
on Sep 13, 2007 at 12:00 pm
While there are certainly health benefits to be derived from the various flavors of Tai Chi, the Taoist Tai Chi Society's approach has very little to do with authentic Taijquan.
The amount of mysticism and New Ageism that has come to infect Tajiquan over the last half century is lamentable, because the original martial art is REALLY a martial art.
In fact, the kind of thing that the Taoist Tai Chi Society teaches is a series of *external* exercises that are choreographed movements based on what Taijiquan looks like during the exercise movements.
These exercises do have a benefit in reducing stress, and creatingn relaxation, as most gentle movement routines would, but that's as far as it goes.
If you want to see some of the best Taiji practitioners alive, take a look at some of these youTube videos. This is the real thing, and far from the gentle dance in the park that the Taoist Tai Chi Society pushes.
Learning from an AUTHENTIC taijiquan instructor is not an esy task - firstly because there are juist that many of them around. That said, once you have worked with someone with real skill, the differences are manifestly apparent.
Also, doing the Taiji forms CORRECTLY, and slowly (the latter being the *only* thing Taoist Tai Chi has in common with the real thing), creates health benefits that are just as compelling, if not more compelling, than anything groups who pretend to know Taijiquan claim.
Last, there is a very simple "teacher test" that one can ask an instructor to provide, to see is s/he isi performing bodt mechanics appropriately. I have never met a Taoist Tai Chi instructor who could pass that test. They may be out there, but I have yet to meet even one.
Check out these videos.
Chen XaioWang showing "fa-jing" (fast strike) - notice that he is ONLY using waist, leg and back power to strike, and how his arms "wind" in and out toward the target. This is the real thing, and quite fierce in practice.
Chen Xiaowang, performing the last part of a short routine - again, note that there is no INDEPENDENT movement of the limbs - it's all connected through the back, waist and legs.
There is no magic or mysticism attached to this, only years of hard training, and "eating bitter" Note also that Chen is 60 years old in this video, and his style is called "Chen" Taijiquan. This originated sometime in 17th century China, and NOT during the time of the Taoist masters of yore (the latter is another myth that has been soundly disproved by scholars)
Chen Taijiquan demo from Chen Xiaowang's son, Chen Pengfe
This is the "real deal" - no fluff, and quite serious in terms of technique and real internal power.
The word "internal" is used not to define the art as soft, but rather to describe the use of internal muscle groups in somewhat counterintuitive ways, all resulting in enormous power that can be applied to striking and joint locking.
Again, the technique involve *wanting* the opponent to come in close, because almost any part of the body can be use to strike - shoulders, elblw, fist, back of wrist, knee, foot, etc,, etc.
PLease note that most taijiquan is NOT of the quality that we're seeing here, mostly because it is hard to access instructors who know the real thing, and have worked for more than a few months with someone like Chen XiaoWang, Chen Zheng-Lei (check youtube), and many others
Some Chen Taijiqaun applications
Chen Erhu (???) - Chen family taijiquan (?????) applications
Again, the forms,, done correctly, are far more health-giving than the simple dances that pass for Tai Chi in most of America (and lately, a lot of China)
Much was lost during the cultural revolution - including many authentic teachers of Taiijiqaun (Tai Chi).
Maybe one day we will see more of the authentic thing, but that won't happen until we have more Americans spending time with the great Chinese masters, as well as those masters being willing to show everything they know to their most dedicated and talented students.
on Sep 13, 2007 at 12:01 pm
here's the applications video, from above - I forgot to insert it
on Sep 13, 2007 at 1:38 pm
Perhaps it's a cultural shortcoming on my part, but watching the older gentleman in the first video linked in Taijiquan's first post doesn't bring to mind thoughts of grace and power -- it looks like the poor guy's suffering a seizure! The video of Chen Pengfe displays far more grace, but I think the whole notion of "internal power" and the myriad uses, both constructive and destructive, to which this power may be put is more a function of the imagination of Tai Chi's practitioners, and less a product of reality and practice. I don't doubt that it's good exercise, just little beyond that. But if you believe in things such as Feng Shui it's no stretch to view a man flailing his limbs in a palsied dance as the very image of hidden power. Just not my speed, I guess.