Today is World Tai Chi Day, a day that was created to promote the art. From right to left in the photo: me, Chris Miller, Kim Kruse, Colin Frye, Angela Lemire, and Jerit Gendreau.
Tai Chi was created around 350 years ago by Chen Wangting in Henan Province, China. His family still teaches the art, and they teach it as it was created -- primarily as a martial art.
Now, it is practiced by many millions around the world. Unfortunately, Tai Chi has been watered down and slowed down by many modern practitioners, so that it has developed an image as a good exercise for older folks with beneficial health results.
When you slow down Tai Chi, it really is a good exercise for older folks, and it does have beneficial health outcomes -- but so would most activities if you slowed them down enough and got older folks to move and stretch instead of just sit around. Take the movements that you need playing softball, including fielding, scooping up a grounder, swinging a bat -- slow it down enough, and older people will get health benefits from performing the movements.
You don't need to be a member of Mensa to figure this out.
Tai Chi is an amazing and powerful martial art. The body mechanics help you deliver relaxed power in a self-defense situation. But it IS a martial art.
That's the Tai Chi that we recognized today at our World Tai Chi Day practice. But no matter which type of Tai Chi you do, it's okay as long as you understand that the super slow version that has no self-defense instruction and focuses only on "chi cultivation" isn't really the whole story.
If you're studying a type of Tai Chi that doesn't include self-defense, I invite you to check out my online school or my DVDs, which you can explore in the column on the right side of this blog or by going to my website at www.kungfu4u.com.