How is tai chi considered a martial art when it only is slow movements ?

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how would that help in a life of death situation ?

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Because if you speed it up you could do some damage.


because martial arts are egsactly the same but fast martial arts have INCREDIBLY SMALL amounts of … stuff that actuly ”help’ in a fight despite what kids think even at a black belt you are as easy to fight as a white belt but you may be fitter and more flexible but the fact that u know these moves is abselutely irrelivent

Shihan J

there are five families of tai chi, not all are slow moving,
and the ones that are are still just as deadly, the slow movement impart is to help prefect the movements, when you use tai chi you are not moving slow.

David N

Tai Chi Chuan is practiced slowly and each move is continuously improved and perfected. The exact angle of each joint during each phase of a move is learned.
Once you can perform a move in slow motion, you can speed it up to however fast you need depending on the situation.
When Tai Chi Chuan is used for self defense, it is usually executed very quickly.
Some of the fast moves required in some of the striking martial arts don’t work if you need to slow the motion down. (For example if you are in the water.)
Some forms are learned slowly and then executed quickly once the form is mastered.


most martial arts aren’t made for life are death situation..


Many ppl wonder this…. And the answer is really in the concept out there that I know as “In order to speed up, you gotta slow it down.”
The point of the slow movement of Tai Chi Chuan is really two fold. One, to perfect form and balance. By moving slowly and with focus on the movements, you can begin to see where you put your body weight, how you shift your weight, and gives you a chance to focus on form of movement. In other words, you work on your relationship with gravity and body alignment for structural support.
The second is to allow a person to learn to do the movement in a relaxed form so no tension of antagonistic muscles come into play, slowing your performance. Take the basic punch. A beginner (and some of us not so beginner practitioners) can get caught tensing up our whole arm when “trying” to throw the punch. There is a tension in the shoulders, triceps, biceps, forearm and hand. However, the bicep doesn’t need to tense or contract until the hand is being recoiled from the strike. The fist and forearm only need tension at the point of impact and then should immediately return to a relaxed state.
The point of slow moving Tai Chi forms is to allow the practitioner the opportunity to weed out the tension through practice. And that also comes from the breathing and psychological training involved. In that moment of conflict, the practitioner (hopefully) will not let the adrenaline dump and the tension of the situation affect performance. So, when he/she needs to move, they can move.
Look at it this way…. Baseball players taking batting practice don’t try to swing for the fence everytime. They work on their hand-eye coordination. Timing. Stance. Balance. All to perform with power when needed and to respond to the pitches that come. And with that practice, hopefully will still be able to perform when there are 2 outs on the board and the count is 0-2.
That’s my understanding of it. Be well.


Tai Chi Chuan is a very effective martial art.
Yang Style Tai Chi is what you see old people doing in the parks.
Tai Chi, Bagua, Hsing I, are all soft ‘Taoist’ styles and all very effective fighting methods.

Aaron J

Tai Chi Chuan is only trained slowly when going through the form. In sparring matches, push hands competitions, real time interpretation (bunkai in Japanese), and actual fighting it is sped up to ‘normal’ realistic speed. Tai Chi means supreme ultimate Chuan means fist. This martial art was started a long time ago (late 1300s) by Chen San-Feng and was used to protect royalty. It was so successful at being lethal it gained in popularity and in the late 1700s Yang Luu Chan took what he learned from spying on the Chen family system and created Yang.
As anybody was forbidden to teach and learn Chen style boxing outside of the family and village, Yang made some adjustments to the form and called it his own. It’s premise being a health exercise, hides the lethal martial art.
Others explained how it works in a life or death situation and why it’s slow, so I’ll leave it at that.


As much as I’d like to give you a more elaborate response, the other posters have given you some great answers.
Basically, performing the movements slowly is not the only way its supposed to be done in training. While such movement does have some benefits when learning the movements its not the “be all, end all” of training.
I think the misconception that tai chi is only performed slowly is because of the number of people who practice it only as an exercise and not as a martial art.

Blue Siytangco

Excellent answers by everyone (those who favored taijiquan). I especially liked Shaman’s answer. Kudos to all.
But just to put my two cents in here. I practice Chen Style Taijiquan, and the slow forms only comprise only a small portion of the overall forms being practiced. Only the long form (yi lu) and the sword form are traditionally done slowly. All the rest (cannon fist (er lu), saber, staff, spear, double sword, double saber, and Kwan dao) are done at fast to moderate speeds. Also forms are not the only aspect of training. There are partner drills, bare-hand sparring, weapons sparring, applications, etc. The slow exercises are a crucial training method, and substantial effort should be invested in it. But remember it is a method of training, not the goal. The goal is martial superiority. Also it is important to remember that all the benefits of health and wellness are a side benefit of the training.
In hand to hand combat the Chinese systems delineate four basic elements: Ti (kicking techniques), Da (hand techniques), Shuai (grappling, wrestling, throwing techniques), and Na (controlling techniques. Na can also be subdivided into five major methods of control: bone locks, muscle and soft tissue manipulation, breath sealing, blood sealing, and nerve attacks. All these systems are taught within authentic taijiquan. I will say that it is difficult to find a legitimate instructor, but once you find them, don’t let them go.
Again, it is the general public’s lack of knowledge on Taijiquan that gives this formidable martial art its weak reputation, especially in the West. This fault ultimately lies with all the crappy instructors out there who teach it in its watered down versions.


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