T’AI CHI CH’UAN
by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© March 2014, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
T’ai chi ch’uan, often just called t’ai chi, is one of the most ancient of the Chinese martial arts. It is also one of the most powerful. The words translate roughly to mean “supreme ultimate fist” or “supreme ultimate boxing”.
There are several styles of t’ai chi, some of which have been brought to Western nations, especially to the United States. I was fortunate to have spent several years studying with Mr. David Champ, who had over 25 years experience. He was a student of the method of Cheng Man Ch’ing. He was one of the great modern t’ai chi masters and author of several important books about t’ai chi in English and other languages.
WHAT IS T’AI CHI AND WHAT ARE ITS BENEFITS?
T’ai chi is based on a series of slow movements of the body that one practices over and over until they become second nature. Along with this, one must remain centered and grounded in order for subtle energy to flow down through the body from head to feet. This is the basic set up for t’ai chi.
The idea is that by doing this, and by practicing daily, the movement of subtle energy will slowly increase through the body until it heals the body and it also begins to protect one from attackers, as well.
The movements can also be used for self-defense or for attack, if needed, although the emphasis is always upon defense and not upon attack, ever. Those who use it for attack are misusing the art, and this usually brings bad consequences such as death.
T’ai chi is thus a very ancient art that is not taught correctly very often, but which offers significant health benefits, improved balance and alignment of the body, and the ability to repel certain types of attacks, but certainly not all types such as attacks with weapons or poisoning. This is a very short introduction to t’ai chi ch’uan. For much more on this subject, please read the books by Cheng Man Ch’ing.
DOWNWARD MOVING ENERGY AND T’AI CHI
One of the main tenets of t’ai chi, as taught by Cheng Man Ch’ing is that one must keep one’s subtle energy flowing downward at all times. This is for protection because if an attacker comes at one, the downward-moving energy will take the attack down into the earth, if one is properly aligned, and thus it will deflect the blows to some extent.
Downward-flowing energy also goes into the earth and comes back up in and through the body of the practitioner of t’ai chi, giving him or her strength, energy and healing. The energy can also be directed outward to stop and attacker. However, this is not its main use. Its main use is to protect one from all sorts of attacks, including verbal, physical and even psychic attacks. This is the main point and it is how t’ai chi is related to nutritional balancing science. In fact, the downward moving energy concept is central to nutritional balancing science. For more on this topic, please read Downward-Moving Energy And Healing on this site.
EXERCISE CARE IF YOU WISH TO LEARN T’AI CHI
First, it is not necessary for success with nutritional balancing to study t’ai chi. This is important to know. In fact, I was told not to keep studying t’ai chi, although I enjoyed it very much. This was because it took up a lot of time, it was slow to learn, and it exposed me to the stray energy of the other students in harmful ways.
Most people are so unhealthy that spending time in classes of any kind, these days, is harmful for most anyone who is truly improving himself or herself using a nutritional balancing program. Please keep this in mind.
A second problem, and even worse problem, is that there are few decent teachers of t’ai chi. This is a terrible problem that will remain, unfortunately. The reasons for this are:
1. Poor overall health. This is true with any type of classes today. You will be learning from someone who, in almost all cases, can hardly handle his or her own body and problems. Some have studied acupuncture, but this is not a guarantee of health by any means. Please read the article on this website on Acupuncture for more on this problem with acupuncture today.
In fact, many of the best t’ai chi teachers oppose Western medicine and nutrition and only want to follow acupuncture principles of healing, which are inadequate for today’s health challenges, as I have detailed in the Acupuncture article.
2. Inadequate training. Too many t’ai chi and other martial arts teachers have just taken a few courses or certifications and they are not good enough with their art, or with how to teach it, to do it well. This can ruin a martial arts class faster than anything. The teacher must be very attentive to the class, and must check each student frequently. If your teacher does not do this, please get out fast before you suffer grave injuries, and I mean this.
3. Injuries. All the Chinese martial arts except perhaps qi kung, lead to injuries in Western students. This includes t’ai chi. I experienced this myself, even with a very good teacher. The reason is that the bodies are all weak today, even if you follow a nutritional balancing program. The ligaments are weak and easily strained, and most of the injuries are of a soft tissue nature.
A second reason for injuries is that the philosophy of t’ai chi is not well enough understood and students do not relax enough, do not cooperate with each other enough during push hands practice (a mild fighting practice skill), and at all other times. So please be very careful. The worst soft tissue injuries, by the way, are to the knees.
As a result, I do not recommend t’ai chi at this time because, while it can be very enjoyable and helpful, finding a good teacher and a safe class is very difficult.