- TAI CHI COMMENTARY -
TAI CHI: HERE AND BEYOND
Here we are, in this, the 21st century. If reading this, you are likely one of the millions of people who have felt an attraction to the ancient art of tai chi. As enthusiasts, we carry our collective stories of tai chi martial artists of old, vanquishing all challengers, with unimaginable accomplishments and super-human abilities. But now we need to consider, what is our place in the tai chi mosaic? What feats await us in this world we’ve inherited? And importantly, what lies beyond?
While I agree with the concept that tai chi advancement is best accomplished with martial training and full comprehension of tai chi’s martial practices and methods, in my humble opinion, publicly there is a greater need for more, at present and in the future. The need isn’t, nor will be, for fighting skills as much as it is for well being. Fighting, superhuman and otherwise, is not going to be the answer to one of the world’s greatest needs - health.
Health is the treasure to be sought now and in our future. Ironically, at a time when food preservation and availability is abundant in much of the world, and medical treatment is advanced, millions still suffer from poor diets and less than optimal health due to a world that challenges healthy living. Contributing to our health woes are stress, pollution, sedentary lifestyles and ever increasing health costs, all of which conspire to sink us into a wellness poverty.
It seems to me that such a crisis, one in which our mutual well being hangs in the balance, our physical, mental, and spiritual health are in dire need of attention. People, especially in the western cultures, are in drastic need of health-promoting exercise and relief from the consequences of stress-filled lifestyles.
In recent years a first wave of healing exercise spread across the globe in the form of yoga. Yoga has become a mainstay of healthy living in thousands of small towns and large metropolitan centers across the globe. Yoga studios have popped up everywhere becoming nearly as common as hair salons, with yoga even gracing the cover of TIME Magazine a few years ago.
I applaud and encourage this practice, though I do believe it’s time for another option - an alternative that bears similar fruits through a different approach. I believe that tai chi is that second health wave, a surge that will help bring life-giving waters to the world’s health-desert landscape. Already we can find tai chi classes at senior centers, martial art schools, medical facilities, adult ed programs and corporate campuses across the world. And this is just the beginning.
We tai chi-ers can and should contribute to this new offering, spreading through the world. There is a need for us to participate in the distribution of tai chi knowledge and experience. This is not to suggest that we abandon self-defense cultivation and training, but rather that we focus attention on the prevalent health needs of humanity as we promote tai chi to receptive populations. Many are and will be in need of building their health before learning self defense, which can be waiting when they are ready.
We tai chi-ers share a gift, that of tai chi knowledge and vitality. The time is right for us to pass it on, allowing tai chi instruction to spread and multiply. Our challenge and opportunity is for each of us to help create a healthier, happier world, passing on tai chi, thus allowing future generations to thrive in health and and abundant living for countless ages to come. - TCJ