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October 02, 2009


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I really like Lash's book. I've been using it as one of my chief resources for my 81-day series on the Tao Te Ching. He's very poetic and has a knack of drawing out good insights.

Interesting comment about the captain not knowing the way. I have always found tai chi more satisfying in a group setting than doing individual practice. After debating with myself for a couple years I finally offered free tai lessons at a charity auction and now have a class (crew) of three. I don't know the way but I do know the form and teaching it to someone(s) certainly improves ones understanding. Improvising would be a no no in the school I learned from but I like the idea.

Randy, I don't want to leave the impression that we willy-nilly modify traditional forms. My instructor has made one change to the 37 Form, and one to the Long Form.

He recently went to the International Tai Chi gathering at Vanderbilt University and came back with the new (at least I think it is) Yang 16 Form. A master of each Tai Chi style presented a 16 form.

We've played around with adding some repetitions to the 16 Form, since the basic form is made up of 16 discrete movements with no repetitions. But usually we practice the form as he learned it.

Interestingly, Warren said that the Yang master who taught the form at Vanderbilt encouraged people to make it their own, and to modify it.

When Tai Chi is viewed as a martial art, the need to adapt traditional sequences becomes obvious. Warren, my instructor, is adept at showing how a series of moves in a form can be used to defend against an attack.

However, almost always in a self-defense application the spatial direction (like facing east vs. north) and/or body positioning (like right vs. left leg forward) end up being changed from the form as practiced/played. This is an argument for being more free form with a form from time to time.

Speaking of martial arts you might enjoy a show called Fight Quest where two quite articulate and personable MMA guys travel the world experiencing martial arts as practiced in various countries. Another
show called Dhani Tackles the Globe has a couple episodes on martial arts as well. Tai chi wasn't one of the martial arts but both were interesting for the armchair traveler.
On Netflix Instant play. (My class is going well. I am learning a lot).

Randy, your last lines reminded me of what my Tai Chi teacher says frequently when we bow to each other at the end of class: "Thank you for all you've taught me today."

Once again it appears that someone is trying to make Tai Chi out to be some mystical experience. Tai Chi Is a Martial Art period. They are not dances they are combative forms. If you studied Tai Chi under a Martial artist (only way possible)and realized each movement has an intent you would soon realise that all you are doing is pertending to be doing Tai Chi. If you take hockey sticks and pucks away and give a stick and ring in their place it is no longer Hockey. Just like adding or dancing with no understanding of the intent of the movement is not Tai Chi.
Happy exercising!

Kungfu, I do indeed study Tai Chi under a martial artist. And I'm a martial artist myself. I think you're trying to unnecessarily confine Tai Chi within limited conceptual bounds.

Tai Chi is a martial art. It also is a movement art. Tai Chi Chuan usually is considered to be the martial side of Tai Chi. There also are other sides, Tai Chi as a movement art, Tai Chi as an exercise and fitness art.

In my Tai Chi classes we indeed explore each movement's martial applications. But we also explore the philosophy of Tai Chi, which borders on "mystical" experience (meaning, to my mind, an experience that can't be defined or encompassed by words).

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