Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Good exercise but it is not Tai Chi

How do you remove the martial side of Tai Chi and still train Tai Chi?  How do you remove the internal of Tai Chi and still have Tai Chi? There is a real inconsistency here that no one has ever managed to resolve for me.   How do you present Tai Chi without giving coherent and comprehensive reasoning for it being internal?

How do you say that what you do is for "health" minus martial intent in the light of many Tai Chi masters, living and dead who with martial intent lived to ripe old age in the springtime of their lives?  Witness, Grandmasters Young Wabu, Master Stephen Hwa.  How do you resolve an obvious conundrum in being proficient in Tai Chi by not being able to articulate and demonstrate why what you do is internal?

Why put people off by telling them "what we do is for health, not for fighting"?  How do you say "knowing the benefits a punch is doing for your heart and back" is more valuable than as you say "I'm not interested in learning how to punch someone"?  How do you "project" energy from your arm by visualizing your heart for instance?  It seems to me that certainly  in one sense that we are talking about the same thing but from "external" and not "internal" perspective.   That thing is "martial intent" or the lack thereof. How do you justify telling me that what you do is the only thing "good for health" and that what I do is merely learning to punch people?

Apart from sparring under relatively controlled conditions and doing "external" Tai Chi, I cannot remember the last time I "punched" someone during Tai Chi. How would you justify making cutting motions with a knife for  health purposes only while ignoring that the "intent" of a knife is to cut something?  How do you explain the fact that one has to know which part of their arm and in this case the fist where the internal energy has to be moved beyond ("to project").  This is called martial intent.  How do you tell me you have "intent" when what you do is not internal movement to begin with?

Take a look at about 48 seconds into this video.  VIDEO  You will see an annotation at about 50 seconds which talks about Yin/Yang and junction. How do you stretch out your arms to full extent in a "punch", with the  arms really to the lateral sides of the body without intent and say that it is "internal"?  Try this experiment which is somewhat based on what you see Master Hwa doing.  "Punch" ahead of you in the air by flexing your arm back and forth at the elbow, elbows out to the side or even pointed downward, extend the arm fully each time as you see him do.  He is talking about the "junction" being at the shoulder in this one. You can do it really fast, flex/extend......... Pretty easy right? That is an "external" movement, the junction is at the shoulder as well.

  Now hold one arm directly in front of the "centerline" of your body, elbow down and arm not extended yet as though you are going to punch.  Master Hwa does this and moves the arm with no flexing at the elbow, just a stationary part and a moving part using the core only.  We will experiment a little differently. Try to extend/flex, extend/flex as fast as you did "externally" with  your arm fully  in front of the body as he does, keeping those guidelines in mind.  Junction is now at the core and try to do what Master Hwa did, just extend/flex at the elbow very fast with arm in front as he does. Pretty difficult yes?  The reason you cannot extend your arm, "straighten" it without some difficulty, is because you are "engaging" your core muscles, abdomen and back.

One cannot do "internal" and external at the same time.  You can do one then do the other but the two cannot operate at the same time.  In this event, one would have to setup the parameters for external (elbow and arm not directly in front of centerline and more toward lateral sides of body) to successfully be able to extend the arm fully and easily once more.

What is behind these true internal movements that Hwa demonstrates other than martial intent to project internal energy? How does moving arm at shoulder junction benefit your back, spine, heart, etc.?  If real internal only comes from such structure, alignment, and projection as I have outlined then how can you begin to say what you do is even good Tai Chi and not just merely good exercise? What is "internal" about holding your arm to the side and flexing it at the elbow?  So what is the problem with using "martial intent" considering that what one does is not Tai Chi to begin with?  In any event with those parameters in mind, you cannot have intent without internal already in place. Reason is very simple and since it is not Tai Chi unless it is internal,  do you have it?

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