Taijiquan can be thought of as a martial art, a health exercise, a practice in healing sports injuries, and other things as well. But to me, there is another way of looking at a Taijiquan form, and that is as a highly advanced alphabet. Usually an alphabet is looked upon as being something simple and almost boring. But if an alphabet has so many letters (postures, movements, transitions) that they cannot truly be counted, there is nothing simple about that.
Many people in different fields (I wouldn’t necessarily know how many) might take a movement or two from a Shadow Boxing form (Taijiquan) and incorporate it into their routine, art, sport, etc.. That is something totally different from what I call “The Dao Of Movement” or pure improvisational movement.
Formless movement and pure self-expression is a necessity in martial arts. In martial arts application it shouldn’t matter what position one is in as long as one truly knows how to move. Afterall, even if one can apply a perfect counter to a technique, the opponent won’t be standing still.
What I call “The Dao Of Movement” can be compared to an airplane, and martial arts, dance, and sports can represent a car moving fast on the road. One may ask if an airplane can move fast on the road and the answer would be yes. This is especially true if you are standing in it’s path.
But the ultimate purpose of an airplane is not to travel at high speeds on a road, but to fly at high speeds above it.
Having practiced up to 6 forms fairly regularly at one time and moving down to 5, my feeling is that Taijiquan contains the essence of highly sophisticated movement period. In my estimation, one who has approached a certain level of formlessness in Shadow Boxing can use all types of applications without any of them having to resemble any so-called Taiji movements.
People also have a tendency to forget about the footsweeping, double-kick footslaping, horizontal leaping, skipping, groundslithering, stomping moves, and moves from other Taiji forms which many of us will never live to see.
It is not a matter of taking a few moves from this or that form and claiming to be doing something new, but creating or better yet discovering an entirely new way of moving altogether. An evolution of movement of the human body. A form of movement where just about everything goes. Not chaotic, where all parts of the body move together.
Watch the above video which is a hint of what I’m trying to explain, two additional videos mainly with Taijiquan form movements are listed on SifuMag.com but the listing on the 2nd video is incorrect and I never received the entire 3rd video, although they are both longer than the 1st video. I do have a nice interview at Dancermusic.com. who happened to read one (or more) of my articles on this website.
Self-expression should be an important goal in martial arts as well as in dance and sports.
“The Dao Of Movement” is a huge subject. I only wish that there are more outlets and visionaries to accommodate it.
I feel that the key to improvisational techniques, demonstrations, dance, and sports, depends on mastering what I call “the in-between the in-between the in-between.
There is a lot said in this short but meaningful article. It took me over 40 years to come to this level of in essence talking about the discovery of a new art form. The emphasis is not even necessarily on self-defense, but if you can’t use your movement for self-defense, you don’t yet have it.
The keys to obtaining this are one: learning and knowing a form well, and two: working with the stances.