So what is Tai Chi (Taijiquan)? Well, that is something which took me a long time to figure out. I think it took me about two- or three years of practice before my brain started to understand how to verbalize it for me. Tai chi is in some respects a very complex art. But most of all, it’s so darn different from Western arts of body movement. So it really takes at least a couple of years of practicing and studying before your body is ready to understand the art and translate this understanding as a comprehensible knowledge for the intellectual brain.
Then there are so many different views on what tai chi actually is. But let us forget history and style differencies and try to make this as simple as possible. First, as I said above, it’s an art of of body movement. Today we understand the art as a martial arts system, a health system and meditation. It’s quite unimportant how tai chi started, if the first roots were Qigong/Daoist Neidan for health and longevity purposes or if one should recognise the physical expression of certain martial principles. Today these three pillars are gathered together in a principle based system of physical movement.
This is how we understand tai chi and this is what tai chi is. So Tai Chi is an art of: 1) health practice; 2) meditation; and 3) self defence/combat. And this means that if you don’t understand one of these three aspects of the art, well, then you really don’t practice Tai Chi. This might sound like a harsh statement considering that many people who practice Tai Chi have not a clue how to use it as self-defence or how it’s movements are designed for martial arts use. You don’t need to be a fighter to understand Tai Chi, but some basic understanding of the martial arts aspects are necessary, even if you are only concerned about the health aspects. Otherwise you won’t recieve the full potential of these aspects from your practice and all of these three parts will suffer. This is my personal conviction.