Is Tai Chi Chuan (Taijiquan) a Healing Art, a Martial Art, or Both?

You’ve probably heard about tai chi. It’s in the newspapers, on TV, on the internet and printed within the books stocked on the shelves of your local bookstore. But, early in the morning, in the Chinese ethnic neighbourhoods of large cities, you can see people moving en masse, waving their bodies about, slowly, synchronously and in a meditative fashion. Buy oxytocin online

Search the internet, and you’ll be flooded with information about recent medical studies extolling the near-miraculous healing benefits of tai chi for both the elderly and the young. “OK,” you conclude, “it’s part of Chinese medicine and is an amazing healing art.” But wait! A few more clicks into your internet search tell you that tai chi chuan (more correctly written as “taijiquan”) is an influential martial art. You find that is rife with its military applications, pre-sparring “push hands” training, and weapons forms – including several beautiful sword forms. So which is true? Is it a martial arts practice or a holistic health practice? This answer is Both.

At its heart, it is a martial arts discipline. However, it’s also one heck of a powerful healing practice to those who give it a chance. At first blush, this makes no sense to the novice. After all, how can martial arts like karate or MMA training also offer to heal the elderly, injured or chronically ill? Well, it’s because Tai chi’s traditional principles are far different than those of karate, MMA or other popular martial arts. Sadly though, the majority of tai chi taught today is very watered down. Of course, health benefits can be realized even from watered versions. Still, those benefits represent only the tip of the iceberg of the much deeper healing aspects that the practitioner could truly gain. And if a teacher does not thoroughly understand how its traditional principles correct one’s health, he can never help his students understand how it can be used as a martial art.

However, the flip side to this is that so many people in our modern society refuse to give it a fair chance. So even if a teacher reveals its traditional principles, students who prioritize excuse-making over scheduling in time for practice will never be able to execute any of its martial arts applications – or if they try, they’ll do it in a way that is not from tai chi principles and can lead to severe self-injury. This is why many old Chinese tai chi masters were very picky about who they would teach and how deeply they would teach them. They believed it was a waste and insult to the art to cast pearls of wisdom before those who could not value it.

Those who stuck with tai chi practice in the old days of China (in which living was tough) seemed to heal better and age slower than their brethren. The old-style intensive mental training also cultivated its practitioners’ minds and emotions into peace and unwavering grounded-ness. People observed this phenomenon, so the art became most famous for its health-bestowing benefits instead of its martial applications. China, its birthplace, also outlawed the public practice and teaching as a martial art (and all combative methods) during the Cultural Revolution. Since then, China has loosened its restrictions, and tai chi has once again been recognized as its origin’s martial arts discipline.

If you are lucky enough to find a teacher or school that teaches traditional tai chi, your teacher will immediately help you understand how the principles can be used for healing and martial arts. It’s just a matter of how you focus those principles when you train them. For example, one of the primary “energies” you learn in traditional tai chi is “peng jin.” While covering how to peng jin is far beyond the scope of this article, suffice it to say that peng jin teaches you how to harness the earth’s gravitational force in a way that allows your skeleton, muscles, organs, nervous system and acupuncture meridians to be aligned in the most energy-efficient way possible. It will enable you to express a tremendous amount of force in a strike while allowing you to vector an opponent’s point out of your body and into the ground. It also gives you a tremendous state of physical and energetic balance. Mental comprehension of this seemingly elusive tai chi principle is easy once a good teacher explains it to you. Still, it requires a dedicated mind and practice to get your body to understand how to call up the “feel” of it at will (this is by way of “sense memory”).

But remember how I mentioned that practising just the tai chi principle of peng jin aligns your skeleton, nervous system and meridians in the most effective and energy-efficient way possible? Well, that is precisely why it can also lead to a superior state of health. For example, when you feel stressed, parts of your body harbour tension. This leads to fatigue or agitated emotions, and then further pressure and energy imbalance occurs, attracting more stress. Just putting the tai chi principle of peng jin into play prevents this useless stress and “pulls” the tension out of you and delivers it to the ground. But no one – unless they practice traditional tai chi or its related arts – has even heard of this strange principle. You cannot use what you are not aware of. This is just a basic example of how its rare codes can be used both martially and for superior health results.

Traditional tai chi teachers will first help to condition the students’ physical, mental, and spiritual health before involving them in martial arts applications. To not do so is considered a breach of responsibility. After all, if a student has a busted knee, shoulder pains, or agitated mind, what good will it do to risk their condition in martial applications if they are not conditioned enough to manifest the tai chi principles correctly? If they focused on working the codes, their body and mind could become solid as a rock and as flexible as a pine tree’s boughs. Then, it would be easy for them to take the same principles and re-focus them to martial arts usage – which requires more speed and intensity. The military applications would then be made with the correct code, and no further pain or injury would result. The body would be repeatedly exposed to principles that would continue to condition it instead of tearing it up.

Yes, tai chi chuan is excellent art. That’s why so many of the few traditional tai chi chuan practitioners are surprised that not more people are taking it up. In today’s “fast food” and “instant fix” society, beginners are at fault for not giving their practice a real chance to manifest results. Sticking with it vs giving up too soon separates the winners from the losers (not meant in the derogatory sense of the word, just fact). That will determine those who gain tremendous strides in their well-being (or martial skill) vs those who will surrender to the seductive pull of impatience or inertia.

Keep in mind, too, that even if you want to learn how to develop tai chi combat skills, you should first focus on using its principles to optimize your physical and psychological stamina. And this may take some time. But think of the logic here. What are you most likely to face in your everyday life – an enemy instigating a hand-to-hand fight with you? Or, the regular enemies of stress, pollution, depression, anger, ageing and the wear-and-tear of life? To test the logic of this for yourself, you’ll see that if you research the backgrounds of traditionally trained tai chi teachers, almost all of them were initially referred to practice it to address a health issue. Only after conditioning and rebuilding themselves with tai chi did they practice in its martial arts skills. The evidence speaks for itself.

So yes, this art is like a golden coin with two distinct sides. One side reflects a deep martial heritage, and the other side shines with the promise of a higher quality of wellness. But, no matter what side you choose to focus on, you’ll see that both are joined to the core of a golden treasure.