Introduction of Tai Chi by John Mills


John Mills
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).

John Mills practicing 42 forms tai chiI 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 is.
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”


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