In the early 80’s, I wrote some articles about tai chi. After one of them, a letter to the editor from a tai chi master criticized me for treating tai chi as if it was “ordinary boxing.” Since the editor of Inside Kung Fu assured me that the the letter-writer was a respected expert (and he had a Chinese name, which certainly implied legitimacy) I concluded that I didn’t really understand tai chi. After that, I no longer wrote about tai chi, and concentrated solely on discussing karate. However, I continued practicing tai chi.
After years of practice, I began asking pragmatic questions about tai chi. I started asking, “How can this actually be used.” And I began to notice that the knowledge I was acquiring in my other areas of training, appeared directly relevant to my tai chi practice. In particular, when I applied the art of pressure point fighting in Tai Chi, it revealed the deep knowledge which underlies and informs tai chi. Consider this, one of tai chi chuan’s fundamental principles is “move 1000 pounds with 4 ounces of force.” Most tai chi practitioners seek to do this through the process of yielding, drawing, unbalancing, uprooting. But, a light tap to a pressure point will accomplish the same thing. In fact, pressure point fighting is the very definition of “move 1000 pounds with 4 ounces of force.”
So, I started doing my tai chi based on my knowledge of dim mak. And my tai chi changed, it became more alive, more real, more firm, more full, and more satisfying. I went from waving my arms to actual training. And, visualizing actual use for the movements as I performed them enabled me to move my chi in ways that I had never been able to do by just thinking about my chi.
I also came to understand something else – I found that my karate spoke to my tai chi, and my tai chi spoke to my karate, until I saw that they are, at the heart, the same. Tai chi, it turns out, is just ordinary boxing – so is karate. But, when done with understanding and knowledge ordinary boxing is extraordinary!
If you want to see how I do my tai chi, you can check out my Practical Tai chi chuan DVD, or find my article “Practical Taijiquan” in Inside Kung Fu, March, 2007.
Now, go train.