I stopped into a Border's bookstore the other day and looked for the latest issues of my favorite martial arts magazines.
There in the Sports section, I found Black Belt and Kung Fu Tai Chi among the MMA and wrestling and karate and TKD magazines. I thumbed through the magazines to find the latest issue of T'ai Chi magazine but it was nowhere to be found.
And then I had an idea. I went to a different part of the magazine section where all the psychic, spiritual, religious and strange publications are. Sure enough, mixed in with all of this stuff was T'ai Chi magazine.
And there you have it -- the biggest problem facing the art of Tai Chi Chuan. Even a bookstore chain doesn't recognize it as a martial art, and places it with in its mystical and supernatural section.
I'm going to begin a little campaign to get Border's to put the magazine where it belongs -- in the martial art section. You can help by talking with the manager at each store you visit and request that it be moved.
Tai Chi is an amazing and powerful martial art. When practiced properly, it trains you to deliver relaxed powerful in an explosive way over a short distance. But because it was watered down when Yang Lu Chan started teaching the Imperial family in Beijing, and because it has spread around the world by far too many "teachers" as a way to "cultivate chi," with a focus on the mystical and the silly myth of supernatural abilities, it has been relegated to the supernatural bin on the Border's magazine stands.
Last week at the workshop I gave on the fighting applications of the Chen 38 form, a high-ranking TKD black belt was working with one of my students. He was obviously amazed at the body mechanics, and after taking down my student, made a comment that "Our one-steps don't always seem to work, but I could do this."
If you're one of those teachers who make your students believe that Tai Chi is mainly for health and meditation, and that if they just try long enough, their chi will reach great power, you're part of the problem with Tai Chi. This art produces no health benefits that other exercise can't also produce. When elderly people move their bodies, it's a healthy thing. Just because they do Tai Chi in slow motion and see benefits does not make this a mystical or health-based art. They could also dance very slowly and get the same benefits.
If your teacher does not teach--with a heavy emphasis--the fighting applications of Tai Chi, your teacher is part of the problem. Fire the teacher and find someone who will teach you the real art.
And if you read or see Tai Chi "masters" claiming to be able to do supernatural feats and you don't call them on it, you're part of the problem.
It's a little embarrassing to see Tai Chi lumped in with reincarnation and psychic publications. We should work harder to get people to see this art for what it is -- a martial art as powerful as any other.