Which Tai Chi?

Someone asked me about Tai Chi lessons. Since the person said he has learned before I wanted to know which style he has learned.

He said he did not know.

OK, maybe its because he has just started. Still its strange that one would not know which style of Tai Chi was taught.

Stranger still was that two lessons in no form was taught. Instead, only exercises were worked on. I can’t help but wonder what and how many exercises were taught such that there was no time to learn the form.

In some classes I attended doing some exercises was common but the entire lesson was not spend on exercises. In fact, only a few minutes was spent and the rest of the time to doing form. The exercises must be fairly complex for an entire hour perhaps an hour and a half which is the typical group class duration to be spent on “exercises”.

In the pre-Internet age if you see some Tai Chi style and not recognized it I would not be surprised. But today, with the availability of videos and now ripped videos freely shared it is not as common to not recognize a Tai Chi style unless it is a new or / and rare style.

Still not knowing the style is not as important as long as you know what you are learning and how it will lead you to achieve your goal which in this person’s case is self defence. For health practitioners maybe we can let it go and excuse the imprecision and not knowing the principles.

But for combat we should know how to learn otherwise we will get a shock later when we try it against friends who learn other styles and find ourselves being fed knuckle sandwiches. Be wary of wasting your time learning stuff that lead you nowhere. Do your own due diligence.

For example, one of my students had a good comment on how not to get pushed. Just don’t be there. Move.

Good. I love the initiative in analysing the issue. So does this mean learning fixed step push hands is a waste of time? Good question. It all boils down to relativity; a question of when to move, when not to move – and the why of it. As I pointed out this is a good observation and the obvious solution seem to be to move and chase a moving, non-compliant opponent.

Is this the best solution? One only has to try it to understand the issues involved. Remember, your opponent is not stupid. How you react to his reaction is how he will react to your reaction to his reaction. At the end of it, how you tackle this issue must take this into account. Then you have a good chance to solve this problem.


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