The Elusive Art of Taiji Boxing… the Road Less Traveled
Today, many people practice “Taiji” as a form of natural exercise but with quite limited knowledge of its self- defense applications. Could it be that they favor “Recreational Taiji” over “Taiji boxing?” Even though “Recreational Taiji” has undeniable appeal for its health benefits, the combat aspect must be remembered and emphasized as an equal part of this complete system.
The origins of Taiji Quan vary, depending on the source. However, it is generally accepted that the art was developed circa 12th century by a Taoist priest named “Chang Sen Feng” who studied Buddhism and martial arts at the Shoalin monastery on Wu dang Mountain. The grandfather of Taiji not only combined but also refined principles, philosophies and techniques using Taoist natural laws and Buddhist Chi Kung methods to perfect the Shaolin combat techniques and strategies. This new technique was proven to be very sophisticated and classified as a high skill level martial art. Today, it is still one of the most popular forms of openly-practiced soft forms of “Internal martial arts”, later on known as the “Supreme Ultimate Fist”. Unfortunately, due to the elusive integration of “Taiji boxing” techniques found within the “Taiji forms”, most of the hidden benefits may have been lost in translation. Consequently, a number of the younger generation may not be fully aware of the ultimate benefits found within Taiji Quan as a martial art.
Not to undermine the highly publicized “Ultimate Fighting Challenge” phenomenon, the concept of “mixed -up martial arts” has been reduced to a sequence of basic fighting techniques and, in my observation, lacks the depth of a complete system of martial arts etiquette. However, in this venue, it seems to me that the essence of true martial art has been replaced by commercialized street fighting for profit. The absence of martial art decorum, self-control, compassion, benevolence and dignity has resulted in a distorted view when it comes to the true meaning of traditional martial art values. The focus of self-mastery, and self control found throughout the traditional martial art disciplines has taken a back seat to aspirations of monetary gain, two minutes of fame and flamboyant physical prowess, appealing especially to the impressionable younger generation. Unfortunately, this may be the reason why the glory of gladiator style fighting has put traditional martial arts on the back burner! This presents a challenging dilemma for attracting the next great generation of “Taiji boxers”. It is important to encourage Taiji enthusiasts to rediscover this elusive art of “Taiji boxing” and unravel the mystery entwined in the “Taiji form to make it, once again, a practical form of self defense and a respectable martial art.
The wisdom of the ages may once again bring about the resurgence of the “Supreme Ultimate Fist of Taiji Quan” as an effective self defense and natural health promoting system with this renaissance of knowledge, and the combined effect of the re-introduction of Taiji boxing, (with the inclusion of Chi Kung training), and the deciphering of the”Taiji form” as a moving meditation “. This reincarnation may be just be the spark required to re-ignite the flame of Taiji Quan’s secrets of the “Supreme Ultimate Fist”.
Sifu Dennis Pounall lives and works in Elliot Lake, Northern Ontario as a Paramedic and has been practicing martial arts for over 28 years. He has studies in Okinawa Karate, Pang GI Noon Gung Fu, Kali Jujitsu, Kook Sol Won , Korean martial arts and Traditional Yang combat style Taiji Quan. He competes nationally and internationally, and is available for workshops and Seminars. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org