Friday, October 08, 2004

Tai Chi for Criminals: Santa Fe Lawbreakers Sentenced to Tai Chi Classes

While most people in the Tai Chi world are arguing which style is more effective in fighting or is more suitable for health purposes, Judge Frances Gallegos is putting a new spin on anger management in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is now offering Tai Chi and meditation to people with domestic violence cases. This is a clear example that Tai Chi’s basic idea of letting go and non-resistance are gaining more and more popularity and understanding from the outside world. But here comes the real question: How many of us can actually apply these principles in our daily life? I would love to hear some real success stories.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Grandmaster Cheng Tin-Hung on Fighting – 1

(Note: This is the beginning of a series of my translation of Chapter 14 of Cheng Tin-Hung’s 1965 book "Tai Chi Chuan")

Before applying any practical technique in the moment of conflict, one must pay special attention to the on-guard position, in additon to preparing your mind psychologically. In this position, you will be able to watch every small detail of your opponent, and be able to both attack and defend with ease. Hence, one should not just stand unprepared while waiting for the fight to begin, as this will hinder both the ability to attack and retreat.

Before the fight, the distance between your opponent and yourself must exceed four feet as it would be difficult to counter a sudden attack if you are too close to your opponent.

Your mind must be focused without any stress, and you must treat it as if it is a normal practice. Pay attention to any small detail, so that your can understand both the direction of an attack and whether the attack is just a deception. You must be able to do this before you can deflect an attack and apply a counter attack.

Although the goal of fighting is to let go, follow your opponent’s actions while avoiding the Yang and attacking his Yin, your mind must always remain alert and ready to change technique according to the situation. Use your brain, not your force.

Once you gain an advantage, you must follow your opponent and keep attacking to maintain this advantage until you win the conflict. If you cannot maintain your advantage, and let your opponent have a come back, you will then have to start the fight over again. This way, it’s hard to predict the victor.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Tai Chi for Health -- According to the Masters

Tai Chi has started gaining momentum as a miraculous curer of all sorts of health problems. A quick search of the term “Tai Chi for Health” in Google® has turned up 271,000 results. According to Dr. Weil, one of the U.S. gurus in alternative health:

“Tens of millions of Chinese do tai chi every morning on sidewalks and in parks, while waiting for buses. I don't know about miraculous cures from this practice, but I think it is great for overall health. It's an excellent relaxation technique, and a way to harmonize the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. It develops concentration, better balance, and coordination. Clinical studies show that it can reduce the risk of falls in the elderly. And if you buy into the Chinese philosophy that illness results from blocked energy flow, then tai chi would be a way to improve the functioning of every system of the body.”

What did the Tai Chi masters have to say about the health benefits? Here are some answers:

  • The Tai Chi Classics – “The ultimate meaning of Tai Chi practice is to expand your life span without aging while maintaining a youthful body at the same time.”
  • Yang Lu Chan (Founder of Yang family Tai Chi) – “In order to improve the health of Chinese to protect the country, I have learned Tai Chi…. After I have started teaching Tai Chi, I quickly noticed the changes in my students: those who were skinny became strong, those overweighed became normal, and those who were sick became healthy.”
  • Wu Jen Chuan (Son of the founder of Wu family Tai Chi) – “Tai Chi achieves wellness from both body and mind…. Anyone with depression, low red blood count, indigestion, and any alignments related to internal organs, bones, and tendons, can be recovered through the practice of Tai Chi. People with incurable medical problems will also achieve unexpected results.”
  • Professor Cheng Man-Ching: “I have recovered from incurable tuberculosis in less than a month by practicing Tai Chi.”
  • Wu Tu-Nan (Devoted student of Wu Jen Chan and Yang Shao Hou): Born with genetic neurological disorder, tuberculosis, and hepatitis. Tai chi did not just make him strong and formidable, but in fact, he was still teaching Tai Chi two years before he died in 1988, at the age of 108.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Grandmaster Cheng Tin-Hung in Action

This is a demonstration of the usage of the Tai Chi technique called "Single Whip."

Sunday, October 03, 2004

You Must Be Kidding, Tai Chi is a fighting art?

Let’s ponder what the late Bruce Lee had once said about Tai Chi for a moment – “Tai Chi has proven to be an excellent fighting act in history and Yang Lu Chan (the founder of Yang family Tai Chi) has proven Tai Chi is a deadly fighting art.” However, when we think about Tai Chi, most people will automatically associate an image of a bunch of old fellows moving slowly and gracefully in the park. Indeed, Tai Chi has become a new age phenomenon with its usage ranging from stress reduction to improvement of wellness. What has been forgotten from the equation is the martial art aspect of Tai Chi.

One must be wondering, “How can this slow-motion technique be useful in real fighting, especially against other styles which stress lightning speed and deadly techniques? Give me some proof.” For example, here are two western Tai Chi masters who have won full contact martial arts championships without even a scratch.

  1. Peter Ralston – Peter, a student of William C.C. Chen, was the first non-Asian to win the 1978 World Tournament.
  2. Dan Docherty – Dan, a student of Cheng Tin-Hung, won the 1980 open weight division of the South-East Asian Chinese Pugilistic Championship after a few years of Tai Chi training.