Sunday, December 10, 2006

Tai Chi Chuan: Grand Ultimate Fist

Michael Gilman demonstrates application of "Parting Wild Horses Mane"

Many people have seen or experianced the meditative and health aspects of Tai Chi Chuan. For years now, it has been recomended as a low-impact exercise that can improve balence in seniors, lower blood pressure and provide a sense of well-being and stress relief.
In reality, Tai Chi Chuan ("Grand Ultimate Fist") is anything but low impact. From it's roots in Shaolin Kung Fu and Taoist philosophy, Tai Chi has evolved into what may be the perfect martial art.
At it's deepest levels, Tai Chi practice allows the individual to experiment with the movement of energy, both within ones body and between people. Known as an "Internal" martial art, Tai Chi relies on developing extreme sensitivity to the positioning and movement of an attacker, in part due to the constant contact with the opponent. In fact, it is fascinating to see the similarities between Tai Chi and Aikido techniques, something which we will explore in great detail later. If anything, the variety of techniques in Tai Chi are far more devestating and brutal. They not only include some of the sweeps, joint-locks and throws of Aikido, but many striking techniques not found in Aikido. Both arts share an innate sense of blending with an opponents motion, neutralizing the attack and taking the opponent out.
Through the Cultural Revolution in China and the introduction of Tai Chi to the West, modern Tai Chi practice often overlooks the practical application and devestating fighting techniques of Tai Chi Chuan. We at Shima Dojo are very fortunate to have one of the best Tai Chi instructors in the country, Michael Gilman, living nearby in Port Townsend, Washington. Gilman is an internationally recognized push-hands champion, and always stresses the practical application of Tai Chi. His training has greatly improved our understanding of Tai Chi as a martial art, and as a result all of our previous martial arts techniques are now viewed in a new light. In future posts and video uploads we will demonstrate some Tai Chi Chuan applications and explore it's common roots with other martial arts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent article. I hate when people don't give Tai Chi it's props. I find it very similar to Aikido, with some difference being how to control the center line, and fa jing. Good writing.