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Can You Use T’ai Chi for Self Defence?

T’ai Chi is known in the West as a ‘moving meditation’ routine, but it originally began as a martial art.

And for centuries, it’s been widely recognised throughout the Far East as a self-defence system, just like judo or karate. In fact, ‘T’ai Chi Chuan’ translated into English, means Supreme Ultimate Fist.

When practiced as a martial art, it uses slow, flowing movements and trains the body to stay soft and relaxed, using inner energy (Chi), and leg strength to deliver the force needed to overcome an opponent.

Many questions and contradictions arise when you train in the martial art aspect of T’ai Chi. And because of these contradictions; T’ai Chi is definitely regarded as an advanced martial art. However, everything about it is based on sound and effective techniques.

One of the most interesting contradictions is that you’re trained to move slowly, so you can move quickly in a real-life self-defence situation.

In fact, experts will tell you that if you practice T’ai chi at a fast pace, you’ll dilute all the small, but very subtle, movements and flowing techniques. So your overall coordination and effectiveness will suffer as a result.

It’s critical to understand that every movement and stance has a reason and directly relates to a self-defence technique, no matter how strange it may seem to a student.

The important thing is to seek out a good instructor at the beginning of your training. Someone who’ll patiently explain all the moves and techniques in a way you’ll understand.

A skilled instructor should be able to teach you a wide variety of skills in a way that keeps your interest and gives you a rounded T’ai Chi education.

The standard way to practice and perfect your T’ai Chi skills is through the discipline of ‘Push Hands’. Push Hands trains both the mind and the body to experience physical contact with another human and improve balance, timing and anticipation.

Once you become proficient at Push Hands, you’ll quickly be able to understand the contradiction of ‘softness to overcome hardness’ and ‘stillness to overcome motion’.

So remember, through the diligent study of T’ai Chi, you’ll learn the ability to defend yourself using your body in a relaxed, soft manner – whilst simultaneously improving your health.

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