Is Tai Chi a Martial Art or a Peaceful Meditation

balancing rocks on the beachA recent conversation on a LinkedIn forum discussed whether Tai Chi should be taught as a martial art, emphasizing the fighting aspects of the movements, or just as a gentle moving meditation. Certainly it is both, but how much does one lose by focusing only on the gentleness?

This quote by Peter Stephen Williamson struck me as how the martial art can be used in our daily life, without any actual fighting. “When we talk about “self defense” could we consider it as “defense against one’s own weaknesses, ego, desire, ambitions etc? Thus, if we look at ‘self’ defense, then we become calmer, find inner self-reliance and self-confidence, and subtly exude an aura of quiet confidence which may often preempt any potential “assault” – be it verbal, psychological or otherwise.

Like wise, when we face an “opponent” who feels intimidated by this aura, and who exhausts him / her self in heaping insults, we are able to “ward off” and be non-confrontational, and are able to continue our day without allowing such “assault” to stick to us.
When we have no consideration of “win” or “lose” are we not indominatable, undefeatable?”

This correlates to my own personal growth. Without having analyzed it to this extent, I’ve noticed that I am calmer when faced with an uneasy situation. Drivers who cut me off are let go without the curse and single finger salute of my younger, more aggressive self. I am better able to see the larger picture of, say, politics, without getting sidetracked by the obnoxiousness of one character. Knowing the yin and yang of situations, makes it much easier to stay centered. Being more balanced physically, I am also becoming more balanced emotionally.

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