I like the header I created for this Tai Chi blog very much. I use the same picture for my personal Facebook page as well. There’s not only a feeling of daoism and Tai Chi over it. But I didn’t use only one painting for the header. Actually I use two different paintings from the same artist and put them together. The painter is one of the most famous of them all, Qi Baishi (January 1, 1864 – September 16, 1957). There’s a reason why I chose paintings from this artist. He was a Tai Chi practitioner of the old school. I’ve heard that he was very, very good in Tai Chi. He would practice “lü” movement while making circles with a giant brush. He painted very big flowers with one single stroke using the technique from his tai chi. The price on these paintings has 6 figures.
Chinese painting and Tai Chi has a long history together. Tai Chi resembles the mindset of a painter. But there’s also something very “Chinese” in all Chinese culture. This is simplification. If you look at traditional Chinese painting, as in shanshui, landscape painting, bamboo, floors and painting animals, the development of this art always move towards simplification, to paint as simple as possible yet creating as great expression as possible. If you look at the header with the paintings of Qi Baishi, I think you will understand better what I mean.
Practicing calligraphy of characters starts with eight strokes. When you have practiced each stroke individually thousands of times, you start to put them together into characters. But this is only a learning step. As the real artistic expression is developed, the characters are being simplified until it will result in an expression that many times only the the artist himself can interpret.
And of course there is Chinese poetry. In the Tang Dynasty, one of the official exams included writing poems. This is also the reason why Tang poetry is som famous and why there are so many poems preserved from this time. But language itself, today in modern China, is also subject of simplification. Good understanding of Chinese everyday language is very much about simplifying, getting rid of every word that is unnecessary. Too complicated sentences means bad Chinese. Yes, sometimes it’s just as simple as that.
Tai Chi as a Chinese Cultural expression of Art strives toward simplification as well. If you don’t understand this mindset, your Tai Chi will suffer. Tai Chi as a martial art is not about making fancy jumps, spinning kicks or about timing complicated techniques. Tai Chi is all about simplification. We rather chose to trip than to throw, we rather use simple qinna than complicated. We don’t jump at him with a knee, but we can pull him down on a knee. Also, there’s nothing wrong with a straight lead to the face. But it’s even better if you just hold up your fist when he runs towards you. This is the mentality of Tai Chi as a martial art. Some people says that Tai Chi is just plain lazy. This might also be true to some extent.