You know what, everyone has an opinion of what Tai Chi is. I have one too.
However, to the beginner looking to learn decent Tai Chi what is he to make of this classical mess (to borrow Bruce Lee’s phrase). Yeah, I mean I would be confused too if I were in that place.
So is there a true Tai Chi?
Seriously, I can’t offer a more informed any more than the next person. So I don’t try to guess. Instead, I look for a reference and the handiest one around is the Tai Chi Classics.
I know, I know, again everybody has an opinion as to whether the Tai Chi Classics is useful or not. I’ll say this – in the early stage of my learning those phrases were basically gibberish; 99% made no sense to me; nadah.
But you know what; after years they slowly but surely started to make sense. This is one of those things where if you are on a path that is similar to what the practitioners of yester-decades were on the insights that you generated through your practice should parallel if not be the same as what they experienced.
Just because someone talking louder than you says the Tai Chi Classics are useless or not real or whatever excuses they throw up to justify their ignorance it does not mean the Classics are not useful. They act as a guide, a road sign, an independent voice that tells you when your practice is off. Sure, you should believe your teacher; however, should you believe 100% in him?
We are all fallible. It is not useful nor convincing to claim to be right without a proper basis other than “master says”, “lineage teaching”, “style is …” etc. Some use competition to prove that they are right and this is good; but what if they lost a match or a few matches, or perhaps they won a few and lost in the end are they still right? So there are no easy answers.
Yes, there is no true Tai Chi in that sense. Instead, I would advocate for a consistent approach to Tai Chi in that what I do should cross confirm each other in the following areas :-
a) The Tai Chi Classics (or whatever standard you want to adopt) should define the principles
b) The principles shape the characteristics of your forms
c) The forms outline the basic, intermediate and advanced level techniques of the style
d) The techniques (movements) should bear the principles and allow you to discover, master and express the Tai Chi Classics in push hands and usage of techniques
e) That which is defined leads to freedom of expression and further refines the defined characteristics until the realization of the Tai Chi Classics is attained in movement
For folks who would like to seek the truth of the Tai Chi Classics to Master Tai Chi Today this is what I would recommend that you explore. It is not an easy path; lots of anguished practice is the norm. Once you get on the right track it will be fun and rewarding because you are now on the same page as the ancient masters who wrote the Tai Chi Classics, and you will know the art as a living truth of the dead words from between the pages.
Want to learn Tai Chi in Singapore? At Singapore Yang Style Combat Tai Chi lessons covering forms, weaponry, push hands, fajing and applications are offered. Lessons are conducted in English. Send enquiry today at the link here.