John gives you a comprehensive introduction of what tai chi is, some history and different aspects. Ideal article for beginners who is interested in tai chi.
(This is the transcript of a talk John gave at the 2002 workshop conducted in Sydney by Dr Paul Lam).
want to talk mainly to the beginners here this morning. I know we have quite
a few people that are fairly new to tai chi, and we even have some that are
getting their first tantalising taste. I’m going to give you a little bit of
history, and we’re going to have a look at some of the ideas behind tai chi.
I still remember when I first started I thought everyone doing tai chi was learning
the same thing, so it’s really great that you’re able to come to a place like
this and see so many different things happening. To me it was quite a revelation
and actually quite confusing when I began to realise just how complex it all
If you ask a group of people what tai chi is to them, you’ll often find there’s a remarkable diversity of opinion. Some people will tell us it’s an almost mystical experience steeped in eastern concepts and Taoist philosophy. Some would call it a moving meditation. Others insist it’s a very effective martial art, and yet there’s also people who would tell us that tai chi is just a fun way to get some gentle exercise!
When I first started I thought tai chi was purely for exercise and health and nothing else. But after a while I started having trouble understanding a lot of the things I read. I think what intrigued me the most was if tai chi is a moving meditation and a philosophical thing, why did everything I read talk about defeating an opponent? I remember I got up early one morning and went to a park in Cabramatta, here in Sydney, and I watched all these people practising. The first thing I noticed was that all these different groups of people were doing different things, and the second thing I noticed was, that I didn’t recognise any of it! I remember that well because it was the first time I understood that not everyone learning tai chi was doing the same thing. I was particularly struck by 2 people who I realised were actually practising ON each other, and not just WITH each other. When they were finished, I went up to them, and I remember I said something like “I know tai chi is based on a martial art”