Mastering Tai Chi


Recently, it was told to me by someone close to me that her friend wanted to master Tai Chi.  Its been a few weeks since I heard this and it still doesn’t sit right with me.  I began to ask her why her friend felt he could master Tai Chi, but I hesitated as I knew she was not well versed on the subject. 

The first thing I felt about the person was that maybe they were not really studying the fullness of Tai Chi, simply the name Tai Chi suggests that it may be an impossible task to master Tai Chi, but how do I know.  Then, I began to think maybe the person is primarily interested in the physical movements of forms and that by perfecting the form he will have mastered Tai Chi.  Humm, this still doesn’t set well with me. 

So, let me ask you.  Can one master Tai Chi?  Is it possible to perfect the forms in Tai Chi?  What is Tai Chi and What is Tai Chi to you?  This seems to be the same battle I’ve read on Yoga blogs.

Wu Chi is a concept denoting the primordial state of the universe which gives birth to Tai Chi, the polarity Yin and Yang.


8 comments on “Mastering Tai Chi

  1. Recently, I’ve been researching about Tai Chi and its benefits because I joined a team with a free membership who has regular Tai Chi ‘dances’. I discovered that I get health benefits from this as well as remove the stress from both body and mind. I strongly suggest this ‘Exercise’ as it can boost the immune system and you sweat a lot.


    Mark M.

  2. Hi Amenta, It’s cool that I should happen to read this on a night when I was considering the same concept myself!
    I am a student and a teacher of Chen family Tai Chi. When I was a kid I read Jonathon Livingston Seagull and it made a huge impression in my life (It’s a very cool story,) and when I began my practice I too had this urge to “perfect” Tai Chi, which is a ridiculous concept, maybe it’s a guy thing?
    Now, a little further along on my way this book has come and found me again, and again these questions fill my thoughts. Can Tai Chi be perfected?
    Tai Chi is itself known as the supreme ultimate, how can it ever not be a perfect state? The problem is in our own concepts and models of comparison. Maybe through Tai Chi we can help to perfect ourselves a little each time and through our actions help to pass these improvements on into out communities and our surroundings so that we might become the very change we would like to see around us. I think that is the way I choose to see it. Through Tai Chi we challenge ourselves to not resist the inherent state of perfectness we have come from (the cosmos,) to evolve spiritually, to touch upon something complete and perfect and to just simply be, without judgement… Maybe that is perfecting Tai Chi, or maybe not…
    I know however that soon this question will slip away as I continue along on my way. Sometimes it is enough to sit with the sun on my face and a cup of tea in my hand and breathe deeply for the joy of doing so. That in itself can be quite perfect!
    Nice blog posting, the timing was perf… spot on!

  3. John, great response. How can we ever know in this state of mind? I think you said it best when you said ” Maybe through Tai Chi we can help to perfect ourselves a little each time and through our actions help to pass these improvements on into out communities and our surroundings so that we might become the very change we would like to see around us. I think that is the way I choose to see it.” With this I totally agree.

  4. And the Tao is nothing more than the Chinese way of conceptualizing what Westerners have come to call “God.” Tai chi, like anything positive, is in harmony with that creative force. That’s why people feel better when they do it. That’s why more enlightened pastors support their parishioners to do it – they can see the positive effects. Tai chi invites us to move all the separate parts of our body in harmony with one another – gee, if we applied that same concept to humankind, what a world it would be! I feel lucky, as I have gotten to know some of the most harmonious taiji and internal arts people in the world at: I hope everyone will benefit more and more from taichi and welcome its growth in popularity.

  5. Loretta, This is truth told. I suppose, though in our society and I can only speak about society in the U.S. we would first have to re-learn what harmony really is. In that, humankind would return to heaven?

  6. Yes. It’s an interesting thought indeed. I think the hard part we haven’t all figured out yet, is that harmony can only be experienced. It’s so subjective… What is harmony to me could be chaos or “wrong” to others, and vice-versa. Would love to hear viewpoints on this…

  7. So, learning tai chi is a life time pursuit. We are always learning. It is modest to say one has not mastered anything. But I will say that I have no problem regarding certain people as “Masters.” Members of the Chen family, Yang Lu Chan, my own teacher and Sifu,, who I comfortably call master, Master Leungh Shum of Ying Jao Pai Kung Fu School in New York. So what’s the definition of “mastering” something. Bruce Lee used to talk about developing good gong fu. We practice and research and learn. One achieves a certain amount of expertise and knowledge. For someone to say they want to master anything, be it tai chi, or become a chess master, ought not to be flippant about it. It means doing the work and putting in the time and effort. But I do believe Tai Chi, like medicine, engineering, chess, music, can produce its own masters as well.

  8. TaiChi Mike, Thank you so much for your response. I do agree with you in that I too have had no problem referring to my Sifu Anthony Whiting as Master. I in fact agree with the Masters you mentioned and I would like to add Sun Lu Tang as well. I suppose it is the flippant way in which some people approach the idea of “mastering” any art. I wonder, however, if those we reverence as master would totally agree or would they acknowledge our respect for the level they have attained yet knowing there is a vast amount yet to learn?

    Peace TaiChi Mike, and please come again.

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