Taijiquan: Martial Art, Life Art

What is Tai Chi? It manifests in many forms. I was made aware of the following view early on when my progress stagnated. My teacher said (I paraphrase), “Oh, you’re at the ‘wall of resistance’. … That means you’re close to a new plateau of learning.”

Taijiquan is much more than just learning moves. By making the effort to learn tai chi, practitioners cultivate energy to become more adept in the art of life, not just martial arts. The knowledge and clarity they seek in tai chi, they also seek in life.

Achievement in martial arts practice certainly can cultivate a clearer perception of one’s self in, and perhaps even more reverence for, our world and relations. The saying, “know thyself,” takes on real significance as we seek greater clarity in our practice, the direction life takes, and how we cultivate well-being.

It takes a certain quality of effort to accumulate clarity and ability; not just the prerequisite sweat and time put in. You must seek understanding, which comes incrementally until you store enough energy and, suddenly, new knowledge assimilates. Reaching that hallmark of martial arts training—poised at the cusp of reaping new skill, knowledge and understanding—can be a challenge when fears and uncertainties arise.

Each of us has our own particular challenges. I have seen efforts to learn tai chi loosen unwelcome memories of events and experiences from their moorings, exposing sensitivities from out of the subconscious like an anchor heaving up mud from the ocean floor.

Many memories are wonderful, of course, yet occasionally we can become frustrated, angry or elusive in training and in living. But such emotions may actually be reactions to issues buried in the subconscious, lurking just beneath the surface. Some of these manifestations, however harsh and unwelcome, can actually be opportunities when we recognize them as such. By virtue of self-discipline and perseverance in training, we can work through them and eventually step onto new ground, discover new understanding and recognize positive potential.

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