Tai Chi: Learning It as a Martial Art Style

Many people see tai chi as a type of meditation or an exercise centered on slow movements. To some extent, they are right but it is very much a standard martial art style. The initial name for this martial art is Tai Chi Chuan which is translated to English as “supreme ultimate fist.” The name implies that Tai Chi was originally intended as a martial art and not an exercise for seniors.

It’s easy to think tai chi isn’t a martial art as the movements are very slow. When you watch folks doing karate or kung fu, you see fast, impressive movement. Tai chi, in contrast, is done in what appears to be slow motion. It doesn’t mean, though, that the same movements can’t also be done fast. As a matter of fact, doing it slowly demands more control and accuracy. To truly learn how to apply tai chi as a martial art form, you’d have to practice it at different speeds, but moving slowly gives you greater coordination and balance.

One traditional tai chi practice is known as push hands. In push hands, two individuals face one another and push against each other with their hands and make an attempt to get the other person off balance. You’ll find competitions where this is practiced, much like sparring competitions in karate. In tai chi push hands, your objective is to beat your adversary with as little force as you can. You make the other person become off balance by taking advantage of their own strength and weight. There is a lot of work and practice involved but when you have learned tai chi push hands, you will be a powerful martial artist. The right way to practice push hands is to go to a tai chi school or get a qualified teacher. Just doing the tai chi form won’t be enough to teach you the martial arts applications.

If you are interested in learning tai chi as a martial art style, then you must find a school or instructor that has this focus. While practicing the tai chi form that is generally taught is very good for your health, and may help you to lower stress, it will just give you some very basic martial arts training. By learning the tai chi form, you’ll have a good foundation of the martial art style but you won’t know how to put it to use effectively in a competition or as a form of self defense. If you don’t live in close proximity to a qualified tai chi instructor with a martial arts background, you’ll find several books, DVDs and sites that can point you in the right direction.

Tai chi is known as an internal martial art form, rather than external martial arts such as karate. Tai chi is not just push hands as they also utilize swords and other types of traditional Chinese weapons. Tai chi can be interesting and beneficial, whether you’re interested in it just for exercise or you want to get into the martial arts side of it.

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