I have often been amazed by the elegance and power of a professional baseball player swinging his bat, or an Olympic swimmer swiftly and elegantly move through water. Such elegance can also be found in a tai chi master when he does a tai chi form. What is the difference? Both are doing elegant patterns.
To become a professional baseball player or an Olympic swimmer, you need certain talent. And your talent will be discovered because it will shine at an early age. So much so, trainers roam among kids in schools seeking out those with high potential and enroll them to touch training, though not all of these talented kids can become pro one day. How about tai chi? In the old days, kids weak in physique were sent by their parents to study under tai chi masters or Taoist masters. Prominent tai chi master Wu TuNan was an example. He studied under Wu JianQuan (not related) because he was a sickly child. And he became a great master decades later.
In tai chi and other internal arts a student needs not be talented, as a child or as an adult. Why? It is because through a meditative state of mind, a student's innate pattern (which incidentally comes with every one of us) will be allowed to evolve and to "take over". Such evolvement and "taking over" will achieve the training objectives that we set, irrespective of a student's initial conditions. It is only a matter of time, and the length of time depends more on his ability to "waken up" his innate source of power more than his initial conditions (of course it will be better to have both, plus longer hours of training).
In tai chi and other internal martial arts the most important source of power is the innate pattern of muscles-as-one (or full body synchronization) as when one is still born (and a few years after birth with natural growth setting in to gradually breaking this pattern). In deep mediation, it is human archetypes, as explained in Jungian psychology (the details I shall not dealt into here).
The superiority of internal martial arts is this evolvement of our innate pattern, through training techniques which will be different for different lineages or masters. But to get the best results, a meditative mode of mind is essential. Those who have experience in zhan zhuang can appreciate this. And this is also the reason why some students never get into the heart of the internal arts (and many quitted because of this) - caused by the dominance of their rational mind that does not allow their meditative mind (or "their suspension of disbelief") to play its vital role.
Corollary, it is not too meaningful to compare internal martial art and external martial art by "which has more students winning ring fights". Those kids who love to fight or are talented fighters will probably not join a tai chi academy when they were young, not to mention that many tai chi masters (like famous Wu tuNan) have little or do not have enough ring experience in the first place.
|Wu TuNan's tai chi nei-gong|