TAI CHI CHUAN
Doing a Form of Tai Chi Chuan
By Master Willie Lim
Speak to your friends who do Karate or
Tae Kwon Do about Tai Chi Chuan and they
will tell you it is a slow health exercise for old people and not
self-defense. Speak to someone from the alternative healing camp and
they will speak about energy, moving meditation, centering, etc. Are
they correct? Definitely, to a certain degree. However, alone, these
aspects are by-products of Tai Chi Chuan
What does Tai Chi Chuan translate
Grand Ultimate Fist - undefeated in its hey day in China. One has
only to interpret correctly the symbol of Yin and Yang and go into
its philosophy to understand that within it, is also the principles
of I Ching. Understanding the importance of this is vital to lay
practitioners of Tai Chi Chuan. No matter what the style, one must
have a strong grasp of the above otherwise, how can one explain
how the soft takes the strong, the short takes the long or the slow
takes the fast.
Mastering or even basic practicing of Tai Chi Chuan is about mastering
changes. There are a least 108 moves that camouflage and when one
moves fast or slow, one changes or camouflages. These movements
are so well hidden or disguised that by the time one's enemies see
it or realize it, they are already ensnared in the net. The more
they struggle the worse it is for them.
The fine tuning of the body in Tai Chi Chuan can be likened to
the performance of Formula One racing champions like Alain Prost
or the late Aynton Senna. They are very much attuned with their
cars. They test the cars to the fullest. They communicate by telecommunication
with mechanics, engineers and designers as they are driving, so
that any adjustments made to the car tune into their response. Real
Tai Chi Chuan is all of the above.
Doing the 24 steps, 37, 42 or the 108 does not necessarily mean
doing Tai Chi Chuan. Most people practice
the form without really understanding what it is. Hence, we have "experts" writing
about the demise of Tai Chi Chuan when
Cheng Man Ching abridged the 108 to make the 37 steps. These people
did not understand what was involved and therefore operated from
a position of ignorance. In fact, Cheng Man Ching was ahead of his
time and was so refined in his art that even his colleagues did
not see what he was mastering. He certainly did not earn his reputation
from doing paintings although he was a master at that as well!
Most Tai Chi Chuan practitioners who are familiar with the 37 steps
in Cheng man Ching's form think it all
ended with him. However, Huang Sheng Shyan, the White Crane master,
brought the system another 20 years forward. He developed it so
much that when one sees him doing the form, the instant response
is "there is nothing to
it". In fact, though, it is camouflage at its finest. People
not recognizing the camouflage have spoken,
misguidedly of the demise of Tai Chi Chuan.
Tai Chi Chuan needs to be learned with proper guidelines. Mastering
or learning real Tai Chi Chuan involves consciously working with
the hidden moves and intricacies. One tunes ones body until one
has an intuitive feel for specific movements. It is also very important
to realize that it is not mastered overnight and that it takes perseverance
even with proper guidance. If it were as easy as walking the steps,
everybody could have learned it. It is definitely not like learning
hard style martial arts. In act, if one views it from the prospective
of the hard style one will never grasp it.
There are many who compromise their approach to Tai Chi Chuan.
There are those who approach it with the belief it is only for
There are those who try to discredit the masters by saying they
only push hands with there students (implying a set up)
There are those who say it is soft and therefore useless.
There are those who relegate it to the realm of magic. There are
a few who can acknowledge within themselves that in spite of years
of devotion to Tai Chi Chuan, they have not been exposed to its
Tai Chi Chuan is indeed the Grand Ultimate – only with the
proper research, understanding and above
all training under the right teacher can
the door be opened.