Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | May 31, 2009

Attaching Principles to Tai Chi

Back on World Tai Chi Day, I had the opportunity to see a young man perform a qi gong set that had attached to the moves concepts of african american ancestry. For example, as he turned left and back, he paid respect and homage to his mother’s ancestors, the other side to his father’s ancestors, and, I’m not doing it justice, but respect to the teacher and his teacher’s teachers. The qi gong was good. My first reaction to the attachment of a particular agenda of principles or teachings was I was put off a bit. I thought it was cool that there was a focus on teaching the moral importance of family, roots, respect for teachers, for the form, but I felt it might have been a bit arbitrary. I had the same reaction when reading “Obey My Blog” recently in that the qi gong set Robin was practicing was associated with unconditional love, and even though I don’t know the set, I assume movements were attached to things like open your heart to the universe, be loving and kind as you circle your arms and move your qua, etc.

So, you know, if you were a physics professor and wanted to teach your students about mass and force and speed, you could encorporate it into a qi gong set so that the students would attached certain teachings to certain movements.  Or any other endeavor–car maintenance. Is this legitimate?

Well, I was thinking about it today because I recently finished taping myself teaching the wu style tai chi long form, and had the sense that the form is the form, but maybe it’s not the most important lesson of tai chi. Maybe it’s the proper principles, and not the proper principles of the tai chi classics, but the proper principles of right action as espoused in the I Ching, or Book of Changes. If I could only have one five minute clip of myself teaching, I’d include one or two of my favorite tai chi moves, but focus on character–be a peron of honesty, integrity, simplicity, humility, authenticity, clarity, and calm and peace. I’m not so sure I would attach these teachings to particular movements; if taken too literally, people would think that outstretching your arms some how improves your humility quotient.

But if tai chi and qi gong bring you to a place that is focused, concentrated, in the moment, centered, if you are centered when doing tai chi and chi kung, then what better moment to bring home a lesson about character.

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