One piece of folklore that most T’ai Chi practitioners relish is the notion of the wise, zen-like Master, who is always in command of his or her emotions. A Master who always lives in the present and has deep philosophical insight into the problems that afflict everyday people. This Master wanders through life like the fictional monk, Kwai Chang Caine, played by David Carradine in the 70’s TV show, Kung Fu.
Caine is the mythical ‘Zen-Master’ uses martial arts skills to fight off the bad guys and help others, while maintaining a calm, serene presence at all times.
If you practice T’ai Chi long enough, the myth goes, You too will achieve this kind of enlightened temperament. T’ai Chi practice will make you calm in the most stressful situations. You’ll be able to serenely defeat the bad guys without ever losing your cool or letting your emotions get the best of you.
As much as we all wish this myth was true, unfortunately, it’s not. T’ai Chi people also get upset about silly things, we have arguments, and we feel stress just like everyone else. T’ai Chi practice doesn’t give us any super powers and it doesn’t make us immune to emotional problems or frustrations.
Continue reading Exploring the Myth of T’ai Chi: T’ai Chi People are Like Zen Masters or Something
There’s always a little bit of truth behind every myth, but you rarely get the full story. Sometimes the myth is born out of the exaggerated retelling of a story or a memory. Sometimes they come from misunderstood stereotypes, started by people who never really had a grasp of the subject in the first place.
The art of T’ai Chi is filthy with these kinds of myth. Some are the result of grandiose imaginations, others are worn out cliches spread through the media and pop culture. For those of us that really want to understand this art, we have to look past those legends in order to explore the truth of T’ai Chi.
A few of these myths have been passed around for so long and been so pervasive in our culture that even regular T’ai Chi practitioners might fail to question their authority. We owe it to ourselves to understand and challenge these myths, so that our own training isn’t tainted by the opinion of others, who might not really get what it means to do T’ai Chi.
We’re going to start a series of posts that uncover and explore these myths. To find out how they started and to challenge them in order to improve our own understanding of the art.
Continue reading Exploring the Myth of T’ai Chi: T’ai Chi is Only for the Elderly or those in Ill Health