What do we do about the image of Taijiquan when the world believes its a slow-motion exercise for health and meditation designed for the elderly?
How do we show it for what it is -- a powerful martial art?
One thing that would help is for Tai Chi teachers to stop pretending it's mystical -- that you can control a motivated, violent adult with your mind and with something vague called "intent."
Here is a video on YouTube showing Wang Peisheng, a famous (now deceased) Wu style Tai Chi master demonstrating push hands.
The principles he describes are great, but as he demonstrates, he uses a partner who is willing to fall in dramatic ways so the master looks good.
The problem is -- it doesn't work like this, and any decent martial artist who sees this knows it's a crock. Anyone who has ever fought another human being knows none of this works the way it does here.
Here's another video that shows the fantasy of Tai Chi -- not the reality. It involves another famous Wu style master, Ma Yu Liang. His partner in this video is being completely dishonest about what's going on here. It broke my heart the first time I saw this, because when I read about Ma Yu Liang in T'ai Chi magazine over the years, I expected to see skill. Instead, I see the type of thing that fuels all the fantasy-seekers in the internal arts who want everyone to think they've tapped into some mystical universal Force.
You have to ask yourself, "Why would a master put his reputation on the line with this type of demonstration?"
It's no wonder regular martial arts have lost the popularity battle to MMA, and this is one of the reasons the internal arts have never been as popular with fighters as karate, taekwondo, and other arts.
Until we get real about the internal body mechanics and great fighting techniques of Taiji, it will never be recognized for the great internal fighting art that it is. And if you're studying with a teacher who can't show you -- find another teacher.
If you want to see some good Tai Chi tournament fighting, here is Chen Ziqiang (in the black and white uniform) using internal mechanics on Chinese TV in televised matches. This is real Taijiquan. Notice how he unbalances his opponent with various techniques including kao. He's demonstrating some of the principles that Wang Peisheng discuss in his video above, but Chen Ziqiang is a real fighter who doesn't indulge himself in make believe.
Let's publicize more of this and call the fantasy-seekers out for ruining our art.