The Evolution of a Taiji Boxer!!
Hello my name is Dennis Pounall and I have been involved in Taijiquan for a number of years, and practicing martial arts for the last 32 years. I was introduced to martial arts by many teachers and influenced by a few. In my time of study I began to understand that martial arts is both a discipline and an “Art Form”. Pursuing the discipline, one should acquire a combination of proper instruction, adept understanding, and appropriate application.
These factors along with a wholesome traditional foundation separates modern from traditional martial arts. In today’s society, the most challenging aspect of the arts are the recent drawbacks of modern lifestyle and global attitudes. To most young people today, the reasons for choosing and studying a martial art are quiet variable. Some may see it as a way to become famous, the next winner of the ”Ultimate Fighting Championship” commonly known as the ”King of the Octagon”.
Others may pursue another path where they choose the tournament circuit as their arena, and pursue recognition by winning trophies and titles…
However, the original purpose for martial arts was self defense and later became a method for personal development. There may be different ways to achieve these goals and one must first identify their own real purpose for training. One of my key principles is definitely a system with traditional foundation, which includes meditation, applications, form and function with a feeling.
In a traditional approach this means there should be some philosophy, some theology and some room for adaption and innovation. This allows both, the art and the artist to maintain its essential principles, yet develop and add to its traditional forte, allowing room for continued growth, keeping it a living tradition and maintaining a vital living system where the art’s full expression stays dynamic, and the essential discipline of the style never gets lost. Thereafter each generation of practitioner will add a little more to the system, breathing fresh life into the martial art, making it relevant in the time and environment in which it is practiced.
Taijiquan and Taijiboxing is heavily steeped in the artistic expression depending on which family style you practice, and archaic principles founded in a symbiotic relationship between Taoism and Buddhism.
In article written by Gene Ching From, an interview with master Taiji Player Dr Yang Jwing Ming (Kungfu Taiji Magazine) March/April edition (pages 33-44), he conducts an interview and asks some very poignant question.
Question: ”What do you see as the biggest challenges facing traditional Chinese martial art today?”
Answer: ”Today’s lifestyle has changed as well as the peoples attitudes. A new ‘MacDonald Culture’ has taken over with a fancy of quick and low quality martial arts. There attitude is, fast training and fast result. No time for dedication. No time to practice and no patience is the today’s motto, henceforth the evolution of ‘Mixed Martial Arts’ is in trouble.
Likewise, Dr. Yang Jwing Ming stated: ”Most people don’t care for traditional Chinese martial arts the same way they don’t care for classical music.” Dr. Yang Jwing Ming then went on to show that due to dedication, perseverance and patience, the pioneers of the past were able to produce high level refined music called classical music. As much as many people today listen to Rock music, classical music still survives the test of time. Rock music on the other hand keeps changing genre with each ever-changing generation, however, people still like the classical rock of the 80′s as well as any other decade.
Consequently, if people did not hold on to tradition and added to it, there would be no foundation for the next generation to stand on. Therefore it is important to preserve the traditional martial arts, its path and method, away from modern distractions and focus towards to living one’s life to the fullest potential. The key to mastering the art is in the discipline, traditions, flexibility and longevity of the human capacity towards elevation from the unavoidable everyday purposeless existence.
With today’s “MacDonald based Society” and the immediate gratification and social recognition ideology, it is easy to gather why many young athletes might view traditional martial arts as a waste of their time.
A you reasonably fit and motivated individual might be able to learn the basics of the art, possibly win U.F.C. titles, earn a sizable income and endorsements but the true essence of the art might be lost. You may get lots of money, or even become a famous “movie star” along with possible endorsements or royalties. The Ultimate Fighting Championship is the only recognized professional martial arts venue that is not based in Asian affiliated martial arts tradition.
Thus widening it’s appeal to the everyday martial arts practitioner with the desire and guts to put the time, effort and training into his self generated careers. This I believe is one of the fundamental reasons for its growing popularity among the next generation of martial artist and professional athletes.
But, on the other hand if you train in a good traditional system you may get peace of mind, maintain a healthy body weight, develop a peaceful attitude, and learn how to avoid personal confrontations.
Which would you choose?
Both require effort but the latter can be life changing and be done for a long time. And just like classical music can get better with age.
With traditional martial arts you train a higher level of awareness and a higher level of alertness, along with the ability for a peacefully integrated mind, body and soul.
Today most of Taijiquan instruction is based in traditional theories with a traditional curriculum. It tends to attract more gentle midlife practitioners who practice for various reasons. Yet still the underlying principles remain consistent regardless of style or focus. Most Taiji players receive an inherent benefit of peace of mind, a willingness to learn and understand that practice makes perfect. Although we do not seek perfection by external gratification but accept the personal benefits of daily development.
We learn patience, and some delve a little deeper to learn perception, the ability to take the basic principles and add to them to create something else. And yet still others learn transmission, this is yet another skill the ability to bring encourage or enlighten a fellow practitioner to the level of interpretation and applications. These hidden qualities are sometimes overlooked and not mentioned as part of the ongoing evolution for the universal movement of Taijiquan.
Taijiquan instruction and traditional martial arts schools should strive to teach life principles, life skills, and practical applications for today’s students. This could mean not holding back and be willing to keep learning and keep sharing. This gives each player the ability for ongoing evolution as both a disciple or as a player in this great musical adventure called life.
Taijiboxing as a martial art is a journey of self discovery that requires one to understand and except the elusive concept of ”Wuji”. This slow unraveling of truth is the difference between legend and mastery, fact and fiction. The key is not to be attached to either definition, but to only go straight. Adopting a only doing, not trying kind of attitude. I would encourage everyone to discovery who and what is their version of Taijiboxing.
Thanks for your interest, I hope you enjoyed my ideas and be always “well aware”
I would like to thank my wife Jane for helping me to edit this article and hope you all enjoy it !!