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The Ultimate Martial Art

By Frank Simons

The martial side of t’ai chi is not typically shown off to the West. What people usually see are people in the park moving slowly to some kind of dance. Many teachers don’t teach t’ai chi as a fighting art. However, the martial aspect is essential to its philosophy of balance and harmony. T’ai chi is known as one of the rare “internal” martial arts. It focuses on the development of qi—the internal energy—above the development of strength or speed. Another unique characteristic of t’ai chi is the principle that softness can overcome hardness.

Video Presentation
Essentials of T’ai Chi and Qigong, Part 4,
The Ultimate Martial Art
Thu, Jun 23, 5:30pm
Meditation Center
Callejon Blanco 4
Free, donations accepted

Martial artists work to develop their inner power, the qi. Their internal work is known as qigong, believed to increase their ability to harness the inner life force for a variety of purposes including extending their life span, protecting the body from attack, and heightening awareness.

The principle in t’ai chi of softness overcoming hardness can be traced back to Taoism, where the superior person is advised to “be like water.” T’ai chi practitioners spend years learning to become softer—to release all stiffness and tension. Being “soft” rather than hard allows you to be more flexible, quicker to move, and more sensitive. Softness will improve the flow of the inner life force. In the culture of Chinese martial arts, the real purpose of being a martial artist, as opposed to just being a fighter, is to refine and develop the self. A true martial artist applies himself to practicing his technique with a fierce seriousness; an error in application could be the difference between life and death. This attention paid to technique becomes a metaphor for the attention one pays to one’s own life. This is how t’ai chi as a martial art and t’ai chi as a way of living intersect.

The course is led by David-Dorian Ross, the founder and CEO of Taijifit. He has a BA in Human Movement Studies from San Francisco State University and has trained in China with championship martial arts coaches. Mr. Ross is the host of the PBS series T’ai Chi: Health and Happiness and the author of five books on health and wellness, including Exercising the Soul.

There will be an opportunity for discussion following the video. Presentations of the Center are offered without charge. Donations are gratefully accepted.


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