I think the big difference between Tai Chi and other martial arts is that Tai Chi includes health benefits the others don’t. Of course other martial art instructors will say when you practice these other styles that they are also good for your health. When you practice Tai Kong Tao or Karate’s movements the instructor will tell you which movements are for blocking or for attacking — so they are mainly for the martial aspect.
Conversely, I know a lot of teachers, when they teach Tai Chi, they don’t know the martial application of the movements and they will say these movements are exercises that are good for one’s health, but that is only part of the truth.
In my experience with martial arts, when you practice forms, it’s one way to help you release your body, through forms practice, to help your body become soft. When you face a real fight, if your body still can stay soft, then your speed will be faster than your than your tense competitor’s. In Tai Chi, if you want to use the power we call “Fa Jing”, you also must keep your whole body relaxed.
When lots people talk about energy (Qi or Chi) they want to make it seem magical and mystical, because it is abstract. And in my culture there are lots people who like to puzzle people intentionally and also like the magical, the supernatural and the necromantic forces and things. I read a lot of books on martial arts, including books on Tai Chi. Some of the books will describe, when you practice Tai Chi, in which postures you should feel your Chi, from where to where in your body and what it’s good for. Honestly, some of that I don’t believe. In some of these books, I think the writer just wants to puzzle people intentionally. In some books, I think the author writes their personal feeling without going through scientific study. For example, through scientific study, the Chinese found out some traditional Chinese medicine is very poisonous, not good for our bodies, and some Chinese medicine can even cause cancer. So, you don’t need believe that all Chinese medicine is good for health.
When we talk about Tai Chi, lots people will talk about Chi (Qi). Basically, we want to focus our breath and energy in our Dan-Tiens. If some people said you should feel the Chi from where go to where in your don’t need believe that. That’s maybe just their own feeling because every body is different. Why we should feel the same thing? For example, if different people drink a cup tea, everyone will feel different. Some will feel it’s very hot. Some will say it’s warm. Some will even think it’s not hot enough. So how can we ask everyone to have same feeling when they practice Tai Chi?
“Why do forms exist in their sequences?”
From my understanding, the explanation is: There is one martial art you don’t need to practice forms for; it’s “Jeet Kune Do” from Bruce Lee. Because Bruce Lee doesn’t think through practicing forms you can actually fight. Practicing forms just helps your body become soft & relaxed. So, when you are faced with a real fight, your speed can be fast because your body is soft & has body memory. In Jeet Kune Do, they don’t practice forms, but they do practice each single movement, like a punch or kick etc. It is designed for fighting so forms are unnecessary, just like boxing.
So if you are asking me about why some forms are long & slow or fast and why the sequence is the way it is, I say, I don’t know. It depends on the master who created the form; his philosophy, experience & martial arts background, and his feeling. For example, I also designed my own Chi Kung (Qi Gong) form; it is called Dharma-Zen Chi Kung. When I designed it, I thought about how to combine Chi Kung with Tai Chi movements as well as how to exercise the whole body, not just separate limbs or isolated muscles. I feel that I could also design a new short T’ai Chi form if I wanted to and if it’s accord with basic Tai Chi’s principle like Chuei Jeian (relax shoulder), Song Ieao (relax waist), Ziuo Kua (sit groin)….etc. Every one can make their own forms that why Tai Chi have lots different styles like Chen style, Yang style, Wu style, Cheng Man Ch’Ing style…etc.
Some people after see my video they will give me a comment. They said, your forms or movements not right or you not good enough. I feel ridiculous and curious: How long these guys have been doing martial arts? What’s is a right form? And if they can do beautiful Tai Chi forms, can they fight?
For CPL Tai Chi, not every movement has a martial art application. Traditional forms where more than simply martial arts. They were also Art. Therefore some movements were intended to help the form look smooth & flowing. They connect movements together. This is why Bruce Lee didn’t find traditional forms useful.
If you know any new style T’ai Chi, like 24 Movement or 48, they are mostly art and less martial. You don’t learn many martial skills you can use in a fight from them. There are many new forms; Kung Fu, Karate, Taekwon Do etc. They combine their style with gymnastics and other fancy movements. When you see them playing their forms it looks very nice but they are also not useful in a fight. Still, you can see that this kind of training, using forms, still needs very good flexibility, balance, coordination & speed. So, when they are in a real fight, they still have these advantages. Like what I said earlier, all the martial art forms are just a way to help you release your mind and release your body. In a real fight you won’t be nervous, afraid or tense; your speed will be fast. You never know what your competitor knows, so how can you use the same movement to fight all of your competitors?
Here is a question for you. If you think you know Ni Ja Chu’an (Internal style) and know how to use power (Fa Jing), then when we use our power (Fa Jing) to hit our opponent, do you think they should fly away like in the movies? Or should the power be like a bullet travelling through the opponent’s body?