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Is Tai-Chi really self defense?

I’m looking for new styles to incorporate into my martial arts training. A lot of kung fu schools in my area all list forms of Tai-Chi as internal energy and styles. I always thought it was meditation and relaxation. Yet I see “some” videos online that talk about combat movements. how do I learn which styles are more along fighting terms than the latter? I’m not looking to fight or anything, but I’d like to think that I’m at least some defensive/offensive measurements.


  • the movements are a way of fighting but if you want true power its in the sensitivity thats picked up through pushhands to get to a high level takes decades of practice

  • Believe it or not, TaiJiQuan starts as a balance, grace, and health exercises, then eventually progresses to some pretty hard and fast combat moves (the thinking being you build a strong foundation of fluidity of motion first). I have seen it used as a system similar to Aikido or Judo, seen it appear much like Wushu/GongFu (non animal styles like wing chung or eight trigrams boxing) complete with fans, and of course, the legendary TaiJiQuan swordsmanship is a sight to behold and can hold its own against other weapon styles.

    If you have a great deal of patience then it can be quite rewarding in the end; however, it may take a long time as many practitioners on the corners and in the parks here in China are quite old before they are able to reach that point. But that 55 year old lady with her twin fans that practices every morning in the courtyard of my apartment complex is truly astonishing when she goes all out! (yes it’s TaiJiQuan, I asked her about it, she also teaches the sword apparently but I have yet to see her use one herself)

    Perhaps good things come to those who are able to wait?

  • As others have already stated, Taijiquan (another spelling of tai chi chuan) is definitely a combat oriented martial art. The origins of this art can be legitimately traced to the Chen family in Henan province, China. Beyond that the stories blend into legend and myth. The Chen family used this martial art (before it was even called Taijiquan, it was simply Chen family boxing) on the battlefields of the Ming Dynasty, as body guards for traveling merchants, and for defending themselves and their village.

    Unfortunately, when Taijiquan was transplanted to the West much of its martial value was diluted and even lost. This is why we have Taiji instructors who teach it only as a health and meditative exercise. Honestly if that’s all you want, you’re better off with Yoga or Qigong. But as a martial art, if you’re lucky enough to find an instructor who teaches the full curriculum, then you’ll be amazed at what it is capable of. There are four categories of combat: Ti (kicking), Da (striking), Shuai (grappling, wrestling, throwing), and Na (seizing, as in qinna). Taijiquan, if taught properly, teaches all of these categories as well as weapons.

    Good luck!

  • Yes!!!

    But most likely you will be taught the 24 form yang movement.

    Then comes the Chen style which is a stepping stone from yang to self defence, there are good clubs out there,I found one and an excellent instructor but my heart is in Aikido these days so I must follow that.

    Good luck and Best wishes :)***

  • Just about any martial art out there CAN be for self-defense, if it’s trained in a realistic manner. T’ai Chi Chuan (the full name) translates as “Grand Ultimate Fist”, and at one time that was more than just clever advertising. However, these days it’s generally trained as a health method. I don’t exactly have my thumb on the pulse of the T’ai Chi community, but I’ve seen good books by Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming on T’ai Chi applications that might be worth a look. However, in all likelihood, you won’t find martial application T’ai Chi in your area, just because it’s so rare.

  • if you find a good instructor, then yes it can be used for self defense.
    the problem is most instructor dont understand the self defense aspect of tai chi.

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