I am always surprised when people don’t believe that Tai Chi is enough as a combat art. So many people try to add things like striking techniques, finishing strategi and throws from outside to cover the holes where their Tai Chi lacks. They spar in a common sparring formats and use strikes from Sanda, Boxing, Kick-Boxing, MMA and others. Why? Isn’t Tai Chi enough? Is Tai Chi really enough as a form of combat?
My answer on this questions would rather be an annoyed head shake or a loudly “duh.” Does your lack of skill depend on Tai Chi? If you are not convinced I will tell you this:
– If you can fight or not doesn’t depend on tai chi.
– If you can fight with tai chi or not doesn’t depend on tai chi.
– But if you understand fighting and at the same time understand tai chi, you should be able to use your tai chi to fight with.
Understanding fighting is easy. To understand tai chi is hard. If you try to add other things to the pot to compensate your lack of understanding, you’ll just make it even harder to understand Tai Chi, and it will take even more time. If you think that you need to add other things to make your tai chi work, or to change it to something else that it is not, then …well, this means that you are confused. If you confuse things even more, you’ll become even more confused, not less. It’s the understanding of tai chi that most often is lacking. You need to get to know Tai Chi in a clear pure form, without changes, without distortion. If your knowledge lacks, you need to learn and practice tai chi more, not to search somewhere else. It might be your teacher that lacks tai chi or tai chi teaching skills. Then go on to find another teacher or try to teach yourself what you yet don’t understand.
Tai Chi has its own mechanics for generating destructive punching power, it has its own fighting strategies, entering strategies and finishing strategies. Tai Chi fighting depends on Tai Chi fighting rules. You need to let Tai Chi rules dictate the procedure and outcome of the fight, not general sparring rules, boxing or MMA rules. Tai Chi is complete, it has everything that is needed. But still there is often a lack of confidence due to little or no sparring and fighting experience. So to be able to fight with Tai Chi, often some basic understanding of real fighting and real violence is needed. Then how do you get to a point where you can really use your Tai chi to fight with? First you need a really good understanding of Tai Chi as self-defense and as a combat system. Then you need practice.
Again, fighting is easy. But understanding Tai Chi is not. You can start from any of the two ends, with fighting or with Tai Chi. But you must walk the Tai Chi road until you have reached a certain understanding. Then you need to practice that knowledge and understanding in a as realistic way as possible. And still without even slightly compromising your Tai Chi. Throwing other things into the bin won’t help to see your Tai Chi more clearly and definitely it won’t help you use it. Understanding Tai Chi is to keep the integrity of Tai Chi. Understanding fighting is to keep your body and mind intact where they are in danger. Breathing will help you to keep your mind intact. Breathing and thinking clearly will help you survive a combat situation. Keeping the integrity of Tai Chi intact while fighting will help you to breath and see things clearer. But fighting with Tai Chi is still not just to fight. It’s not to think or act like a common person do in a fighting situation. And you learn this from understanding fighting alone, but to look at violence and fighting solely from a Tai Chi point of view.
So what is a Tai Chi point of view on fighting? This is maybe the toughest question to answer. Tai Chi is a practical art, it’s learned and understood by practical practice alone. So most of this answer you need to find yourself by understanding T’ai Chi Ch’uan, by practice this art and walk the road until that point so the answer can reveal itself. So again, the best answer to give anyone who ask a question about Tai Chi and fighting is still the somewhat discouraging answer that the eager intellect desperately wants a quick and simple answer: “just keep on practicing.” So is Tai Chi alone enough as a form of combat? Why don’t you practice and test it until you can answer the question by yourself?