Training is not Fighting
During tai chi practice, some element of real combat is always put aside, in order to enable students to practise safely. We may regulate speed, or accuracy, or intent, or power, or some other aspect. This is a matter of respect and common sense.
Your goal in tai chi should be to develop profound skill and awareness. This can only be done in a relaxed state. Part of training is learning how to maintain this relaxed awareness in the face of increasing levels of conflict.
If you let your aggression take over, your pulse rate increases, epinephrine increases, you lose your general awareness and your fine motor skills. Without a calm mind and a relaxed body, there is no high level skill. In this state, you may get lucky and win a fight. But if you train this way you will learn nothing. You cannot call that tai chi.
Sparring is not Fighting
Sparring is a way to develop specific skills. It must not be taken out of context.
Sparring has rules, is consensual, respectful, fair, and is done with respect for the safety of the training partner. None of this is true in fight.
Don’t come to a tai chi class to fight! If you want to fight, enter a NHB tournament, and have all of your affairs taken care of.
Results depend on the goal.
If you learn tai chi for health and fitness, you might not become the best fighter, and vice-versa.
If you learn tai chi to become a better person, and keep that goal in mind, you will likely achieve your goal.
Martial arts are meditation
Meditation is the process of learning to understand and regulate your own mind. It is like learning to control your sails so the the winds and currents of thought, emotion, and physical circumstances don’t control your life. Martial arts training gives you instant feedback. Is your mind clear? Your opponent will let you know.
There is no best style.
There are superior students and superior teachers. There is no superior martial art. – End of topic.
You may look ridiculous when you practise.
Learn to live with that.
Sometimes you will also look like a god.
Don’t get hung up on that one either.
Train to be natural
Natural instinct is the ultimate weapon. Developing natural instinct takes lots of precise daily training.
Innovation is okay.
But it should be tested well. All ancient traditions were started by someone. The ones that lasted were the ones that worked.
Internal power includes external power.
Amongst the elite, there is often little talk about the superiority of internal or external styles. The elite will have mastered both. In fact, you can’t have internal power without the other.
Fight or Flight
Do one at a time. Don’t mix them up.
Compassion can be Fierce
Violence and suffering are often caused by fear and apathy. In the face of cruelty and suffering, we must be fearless and tenacious.
Balance is a Verb
Entropy wins when we take harmony for granted. And if we don’t constantly strive for better mental, physical, emotional and spiritual balance, we will meet defeated without meeting an enemy.
When we train with a partner, we salute our partner to indicate that we are each placing our safety in the hands of the other. This attitude is carried with us into the rest of our lives. We learn to take responsibility for others, and to trust them.
©Ian Sinclair – Orillia, Ontario, Canada