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Why isn't Tai Chi considered a martial art?


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Years ago my husband and I joined our local Shaolin school. They taught that both external kung fu and internal tai chi are different roads that lead to the same destination. We were told that both my husband who preferred the external kung fu and I who perferred the internal tai chi would be eventually learning the same things once we got past the black belt level.

 

I quit after I lost my center of balance during my first pregnancy. Afterward, I never had enough time or money to return. Now I am trying to get healthy and fit and wondering which direction I should take.

 

So, what are other's thoughts on Shaolin Tai Chi?

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Because of the inward focus of Tai Chi (not to be confused with the deliciousness of chai tea) it cannot technically be considered a MARTIAL art since Martial refers to war or warlike. I have always considered it as one though albeit not for practical self defense. I consider it more in the realm of yoga or Qi Gong

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I always considered Tai Chi a martial art, but I suppose as Evil Midnight Bomber just said, it may not be considered a martial art as "martial" apparently means "to war" or "warlike", fair enough.

 

I consider Tai Chi a martial art because it's about precise movements with the body and apparently has the potential to be used as a form of self defence. Is it a realistic self defence? Would it work? I have no idea.

 

I don't want to steer you off course, 27angel, but have you looked into Wing Chun Kung Fu? That is a practical method of self defence which in a sense is similar to Tai Chi, it's all about having a correct form and structure, keeping the body relaxed and utilising natural movement and joint rotation to really achieve some power that you seriously wouldn't expect.

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Because of the inward focus of Tai Chi (not to be confused with the deliciousness of chai tea) ...

 

that's the funniest sh!t I've read all day... thanks bro... :-)

 

i will share something previously shared here...

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0W1ym3yggR4

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I don't want to steer you off course, 27angel, but have you looked into Wing Chun Kung Fu? That is a practical method of self defence which in a sense is similar to Tai Chi, it's all about having a correct form and structure, keeping the body relaxed and utilising natural movement and joint rotation to really achieve some power that you seriously wouldn't expect.

 

I haven't looked into Wing Chun Kung Fu. I will though.

 

Evil Midnight Bomber, I do love good Chai Tea! :peaceful:

 

ETFnerd, thanks for the video, the last part was pretty funny!

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I'm not sure how closely they are related, but my stepfather studied Tai Chi Chuan for many years.  And I can definitely say that it is an effective martial art.  As an internal martial art, the focus is on developing your personal energy through breathing, balance and coordination of movement.  That does not mean that it is ineffective for self defense.  My mother has told of a time when they were dating that a man attacked my stepdad, and his assailant was hurled to the ground in the blink of an eye.  He was the one who got me interested in the martial arts in the first place, teaching me a few interesting tricks when I was still a sullen teenager.

 

Like so many things in the martial arts, it takes a great deal of practice to be able to apply in a meaningful fashion.  If the internal focus of the art appealed to you, and the club suited your temperament, I would encourage you to go back.  You might be surprised with what you are capable of after a few years of practice.

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I think a one of the reasons tai chi isn't considered a martial art in many circles is that it's not taught as a martial art in the West.  It's taught as a slow, meditative exercise suitable for those with limited mobility or no desire to sweat.  There's a heavy emphasis on Taoist philosophy and achieving spiritual balance, and almost none on practical application.  That's been changing in the last 10 years or so, especially with the proliferation of Chen-style schools in the West.  As a contrast to the above video, there's this one of a Chen-style instructor tossing around MMA fighters at a demo.

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I just thought I'd share a post from a blog I follow from a man named Dan Djurdjevic.  The particular post is about how Tai Chi works, specifically how principles of Tai Chi are applied to self defense.  http://dandjurdjevic.blogspot.com/2013/03/how-internal-arts-work-part-2-taijiquan.html

 

I like his blog because he has worked in law and practices internal and external arts, making it a valuable information source.

 

To respond to 27angel, if you're deciding between internal and external arts, the most important choices won't be about styles or techniques or curriculum, since by my experience the instructor and the atmosphere of the classroom will make or break a person's motivation for martial arts.

If they have the same instructor and everything, though, I'd personally go with whichever one looks more fun (technique-wise).  If you have a preference toward Tai Chi, go for it.

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Actually it is sometimes.

In chinese culture Kung Fu would be total warfare, Qi Gong total spirit, and Tai Chi between both...

 

Just beware about easy shortcuts.

On youtube you can find almost any discipline kicking another discipline's ass...

And about the stepdad's story, how long does he be training ? with years of training your body, kicking an untrained guy's ass is easy independantly of the martial arts.

 

What was the same destination of Tai chi and kung fu ? I don't think for Tai Chi it is to be the most efficient bare handed killing machine (which originally is for kung fu as some of you guys already stated)

 

What is your goal with Tai chi ?

Spiritual ? perhaps then Qi Gong is better suited

Self defense ? wing chun is then a good idea. Krav maga is also, specially for women because it targets weak parts of the body, making less strength needed

Fitness ? then you can look of boxing classes (Savate is very suited for women) because their conditioning is often way better (mostly because on less technical work)

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What is your goal with Tai chi ?

Spiritual ? perhaps then Qi Gong is better suited

Self defense ? wing chun is then a good idea. Krav maga is also, specially for women because it targets weak parts of the body, making less strength needed

Fitness ? then you can look of boxing classes (Savate is very suited for women) because their conditioning is often way better (mostly because on less technical work)

 

Hmmm, what is my goal? Well I have been mostly sedentary for a very long time. I am trying to move more to get healthy and lose weight. I dislike exercise and am trying to think of things that I might enjoy. I know that at one time I enjoyed Tai Chi. I know that I tried kung fu with my husband and enjoyed it until we started grappling and generally "getting into each-other's personal space." Several of my friends are martial artists and so I am leaning toward following in their footsteps and doing some form of martial art after I lose some weight (and when I can afford it.)

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I would then advise boxing

For fitness it would be the best. Even during "technical" which is often little sparring limited to specific moves, you still burn much calories whereas self defense and martial arts technical part  are really more technical. So you will have to slowly and precisely repeat the moves, which is efficient in learning the art, but less for fitness.

 

Hope it'll help.

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Please keep in mind that in the early days of China the true 20 year plus Tai Chi masters were the martial artists most feared.  This style of martial art is truly dangerous if you work the applications for the motions and train on a daily basis for many, many years.  However, the old people in the park the movies like to depict is not the same thing.

 

Full disclosure: I am 27angel's husband and study at a Shao Lin school where this art melds into the harder, external art of Kung Fu at the 1st degree black and higher level.

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Yeah but does this statement should drive your choices now ?

It's like saying "ok I will learn Fortran, because there was a time it was used by the most competent programmers"

 

Anyway, I was just saying, if it is for a purely fitness goal, weight loss, and self confidence, boxing classes are definitely better suited.

(I could compare myself, also did martial arts - vietnamese - several years)

 

If you want to do TaiChi because you love TaiChi and don't want to do anything else, then go for it !

Making something you love will make you stick with it, and that's the most important

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It is a martial art. Look for someone who teaches the martial side of it - and if your tai chi teacher doesn't understand that side, at least, they probably aren't much good at tai chi.

 

Sounds like The Cavalier's place is ok, though I'm not familiar with Shaolin Tai Chi. 

 

In the end, all martial arts are trying to teach more-or-less the same stuff.

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Tai Chi is a martial art, with an emphasis on art.

It just doesn't compare to stuff like Krav Maga and BJJ (and others) when it comes down to learning how to fight. Sure, if you trained Tai Chi every day for 20 years, you could use it in a fight, but you can get way better results from training Krav Maga for 6 months. 

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You guys talking Tai Chi down have obviously never played any push hands with a practicioner who knows what they're doing.

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You guys talking Tai Chi down have obviously never played any push hands with a practicioner who knows what they're doing.

I gotta say I've watched some youtube stuff and push hands stuff looks very fake. I'd also venture to say that a practitioner who knows what they are doing has probably not gone head to head with another martial artist that knows what they are doing.

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Definitely not fake. I've trained with a number of very competent individuals.  For that matter, my instructor Master Michael Reid is more than capable in any scenario.  Youtube videos I cannot speak for.  My training with them I can.

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I've searched high and low looking for videos featuring Tai Chi in a fight. I haven't found any. At best, there were videos with the slow demonstration of techniques. In those videos, the opponent didn't give any resistance. If you expect an opponent to just go with the flow and not try to hit you as hard and as fast as he/she can, you're going to have a bad time.

 

Again, I'm not trying to talk it down, as Tai Chi has it's benefits. Those benefits just don't include effective self defense in today's world. 

 

or even just 6 lessons if you have any experience/knowledge :D

 

I still think it's better than capoeira. :tongue:

 

Totally true!

Capoeira is pretty much like Tai Chi: Looks pretty, if done correctly it can even look impressive, but on the street it loses most, if not all, of it's value.

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You are, of course, entitled to your opinion. I find Tai Chi to be an invaluable tool in the battle bag, not just the training mat.

I may not agree with what you have to say but I will defend your right to say it to the very death.

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I think it's worse in this aspect: capoeira is often presented as a martial art masked as a dance, while actually it's a dance masked as a martial art (IMHO), and you can get proficient in it relatively soon. It's much easier to get hurt because you are more likely to think you have a viable martial art skill.

Even (those rare) people who present taichi as a martial art will put an emphasis that long years of study and practice are needed to use it effectively in combat.

It's really hard to find anything even resembling a good fight footage, but here's something:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNoDu68D1rg

and this is what happens when you start believing your own bullshit:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhhWcRGRtOI

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You are, of course, entitled to your opinion. I find Tai Chi to be an invaluable tool in the battle bag, not just the training mat.

 

So are you!  :) And regardless of my personal opinion, it's still training, and every training is better than no training!

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I took a Tai Chi class one semester, it was really interesting to watch a 150 lb 70 year old man push a 260 lb 21 year old marine around like he wasn't there.

 

As far as it being taught as a way to exercise without breaking a sweat, I don't believe that, at least that wasn't the case in the above mentioned class either. But then again, my teacher talked about how he was taught and his teacher put his classes through the wringer (he mentioned that in one class they held a single stance for about 2 hours).

 

In my experience though, Tai Chi and other primarily internal styles have a very steep learning curve in the beginning as so much of it is reliant on internal structure that's not very easily taught (it really has to be felt through experience). However once you have the internal understanding it tends to turn other things on their heads (such as how a punch is executed).

 

But back to the question, should Tai Chi be considered a martial art? Well that depends on how it's taught. If it's taught with combat in mind then yes, if it's taught as a self-development tool, then probably not. It's just like Karate Do vs Karate Jutsu. The Do (as in a female deer) typically denotes an emphasis on the personal development while the Jutsu typically denotes a focus on practical application (I think that's where the distinction between Tai Chi vs Tai Chi Chuan is really important). 

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