Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lineage vs progress in tai-chi

Lineage is important, because only through learning a practice within the domain of a lineage form one can have a sound foundation for progress. Having said that progress is of vital importance to any practice in the modern world, in which there are keen competition for students as well as would-be future teachers. How to make a classical practice ,like tai-chi, grow and progress? The route is simple. Firstly identify current problems that people are now facing, and secondly find better ways to solve these problems, these may be improved techniques from one's core discipline (in this case tai-chi) or new techniques borrowed from related disciplines and have them incorporated seamlessly into one's core discipline.

What are the problems, or what are the problems that a student of tai-chi can hopefully find solution in his practice? One major problem that a good practice of tai-chi can solve is to have a fitness and conditioning program for the middle-aged. Another major problem is to have a health maintenance/enhancing program for elderly, people suffering from long-term illness and patients recovering from major surgery or treatment (like chemotherapy). The last (but certainly not least) problem is to have a vigorous work-out/conditioning program for martial artists and other athletes who wish to have a major overhaul of one's mind-body structure, the achievement of which can help the athlete to obtain top results.

Needless to say, the program to solve these problems will not be the same for each. In the training program that I have devised (Training), I include three major elements: zhan zhuang, tai-chi proper and Taoist meditation. Zhan zhuang (mainly borrowed from the practice of I-chuan/Da ChengQuan [意拳/大成拳) formed the foundations for all programs. The more strenuous Nei Gong part of tai-chi can be skipped for the elderly who can do more meditation instead. These are examples of how a program can be tailored made for specific needs.

The Tai-chi Master: a mega movie featuring Jet Li as Tai-chi Founder Taoist Zhan San Fung (张三丰)


  1. When combat applications of this art are taught as a part of the form, the movements are inevitably performed more correctly and with better energy, thus affording the practitioner all the health benefits offered by tai chi practice. Without knowledge of what the moves are supposed to do, the practitioner cannot reap all the benefits that lie richly within the cultivation of skill and energy in practice.

    ilchi lee chakra healing

  2. Thanks for commenting. That is a common traditional concept of tai chi. Like many traditional concepts (like "if your opponent doesn't move, you don't move; when he moves slightly, you (taking the advantage of knowing where he is going to move) and move faster than him"), they are "interesting" objective statements (correct or incorrect is another issue, and I won't assume every traditional concept would be correct) rather than practical training methods. One can read (and understanding them intellectually) traditional concepts from the classics, but one need to learn the practical training methods from good teachers.


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