Tai chi is a traditional and complete Chinese martial art, incorporating strikes with all parts of the body and throwing, grappling and joint-locking techniques. It is an excellent way to get fit since regular practice increases stamina, strength, power and flexibility. It is a suitable form of self-defence for all, male and female, young and old. You can do as much or as little in class as you feel comfortable with.
Tai chi uses skillful movements to combat brute force, teaching you to evade attacks and deflect blows using the minimum amount of effort, since they are not met head on but are absorbed, the principle of yin. It also trains you to use your whole body in every movement, allowing everyone to use their maximum power in an attack, the principle of yang. When you can fluidly interchange between attack and defence, yin and yang, then you will have developed skill in tai chi chuan, or supreme ultimate i.e., yin and yang boxing.
The pushing hands techniques Seven Stars, Nine Castles and Four Directions are performed as warm-up exercises with a partner. Repeated practise makes the correct defending and attacking postures almost instinctive and gives you the sensitivity required to anticipate attacks and instantly respond with a counter-attack.
Freestyle pushing hands teaches you to control an attacker and use their force against them. It is also an excellent test of your ability to relax and apply the principles of tai chi.
Applications apply tai chi moves to realistic self-defence situations.
Those who want to can test their skills under the even more realistic conditions of moving-step pushing hands, wrestling and full-contact sparring.
The hand form acts as a cool down and full body stretch, increasing the strength and range of motion of all the body’s joints and laying the foundation for the realisation of its maximum physical potential, as well as protecting against injuries and improving posture.
Advanced students can learn weapon forms and Nei Gung, internal strength exercises, which improve co-ordination, develop power and strengthen the body.
By learning to move in a relaxed way while under fear of assault your ability both to attack and to defend increases. Increased physical confidence leads to mental confidence. The legendary health benefits of tai chi come when your ability to relax under pressure becomes part of your daily life.
Nothing speaks the truth
Nothing tells us how things really are
Nothing forces us to know
What we do not want to know
And this is how the Gods declare their love
Truth comes with pain
Aeschylus, The Oresteia