Combat Tai Chi
Summary: Tai Chi Chuan as a martial art, and its decline.
Before the evolution of Tai Chi as meditation practice, or as an alternative inner healing practice, Tai Chi was an efficient and deadly combat art that originated in ancient China.
As it was originally conceived, Tai Chi Chuan (the complete name translates as ‘Supreme Ultimate Force’) is a method of fighting based on neutralizing an opponent’s use of force before applying a countering force of his own. Thus, with this concept alone, one can judge that Tai Chi Chuan is more suited as a fighting art than anything else.
The most dominant argument of traditionalists is Tai Chi Chuan being used as any other practice except combat. Their argument states that if you practice Tai Chi for health reasons, you will not obtain its best benefits. Likewise, if you do Tai Chi as a dance, you may achieve the flexibility, elegance, muscle loosening and stamina, but not reap everything it offers. Practicing it as martial art alone can get you the full benefit it offers even if you are in a dance or on a health regimen. If you train in Combat Tai Chi, these elements are obtainable since all these features are essential for every Tai Chi fighter.
Combat Tai Chi employs a kind of slow-tempo maneuvers. Redirecting force rather than meeting it head on, dissipating a force by going with it rather than against it, this makes it deceptively deadly. But this is what might have precipitated its early downfall, too. In the light of modern forms of art, the Combat Tai Chi Kata (movement exercises) would be too cheesy to watch than of those other explosive martial arts like Judo or Karate. Kung Fu, a close relative of the art, was more readily accepted than the dance-like Tai Chi Chuan.
Combat Tai Chi and its decline.
The advent of modern warfare also contributed to its steady decline. Guns had nearly eliminated the need for melee and close hand fighting. No matter what the claims of Combat Tai Chi or other martial art discipline have, countries won’t opt to equip their soldiers with martial arts discipline in place of guns.
Other more aggressive fighting arts have evolved too. Thailand Kickboxing, for instance, and street fighting in the US. Both require a little or no amount of discipline, and instead, load of steroids and muscle generators. But they gained popularity because of their brutality (which the public finds more entertaining) and its bad-ass type approach.
But while Combat Tai Chi has been losing popularity as a form of self defense, Tai Chi teachers has adapted by broadening its doors on other applications of the practice. Notably in the West and some parts of Europe, people have been signing up on Tai Chi classes for its health benefits, mental and physical.