Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Classical Tai Chi...Self Defense of the self

Oscar and Augie ("O" man and "A" man)

The "terriers like the classical tai chi  buffalo"

What do we mean when we say: "Self defense of the self"?

Master Wu Chien-chuan really handed down a legacy of the Wu Style that is as good for health as well as martial arts.  It stands higher, steps smaller, calms the mind, heals the body, protects the joints, and above all works from the “inside” out.   Classical Taiji (the legacy of Wu Chien-chuan) is so compact that it has to work from the “internal” out…one might say, almost by default.  Because there can be no large, external movements of the limbs with such a compact stance, the practitioner has to focus inward…there is no “frame” that would support external movement. If the internal was an engine, it would be a Porsche engine, but that Porsche engine would not work in a truck frame now would it?

Here we have the pre-eminent designation of Taiji as an “internal” martial art.  If one can think of almost all other systems of exercise, whether Western or Eastern, they are based on external movements.  The limbs and hence the outer layers of muscle and bone are required to perform all movements. The emphasis then being one of getting “fit” over getting healthy and maintaining that health.  Most people I talk to or beginning students that I teach really think that fitness and health are one and the same. Whereas most of that “external” really is based on mechanical functioning.  How does lifting kettle bells, pumping iron, flailing away at a heavy bag reach to the internal organs of the body?  Of course, you say in the offing, one may get one’s cardiovascular system “fit”.  However, what most fail to see is that one creates an oxygen deficit in striving for such “cardio” benefits. Depriving the body to make it "fit"?

I find it interesting that I can do several rounds of Classical Taiji round form after a night of little sleep and I will feel full of energy.  Whereas, the 2 mile walk that I take with the dogs, makes me tired and sleepy.  I should add that I have a Shepherd and a Terrier who both love to wake up early and play, hence the lack of sleep on occasion.

Classical Taiji serves 2 purposes, those being for martial and health. One might then say, that Classical Taiji serves as a martial art for self-defense against others, but also should not be forgotten to be practiced as self defense of the self…against illness. If one is not healthy, then saying it cannot really be used for martial purposes is the caveat.   Like I say, most confuse fitness with health and only deceive themselves.  The many may be deceived by displays of grandiose external martial arts, fitness and even Taiji that uses external motion, but the individual practitioner is only fooling themselves when it comes to health if it is not internal.  “Internal” as being based on the cultivation of internal energy in the core of the body as all movement is derived from the use of internal discipline.  

Classical Taiji: The art of internal motion that is powered by internal energy and directed by internal discipline.  Good for self defense…self defense that includes the self and others.

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