There are always arguments about whether Tai Chi is for self cultivation/health or for self defence, but are they mutually exclusive?
It’s often said that the highest levels of self cultivation cannot work together with dealing with violence but I disagree.
Firstly self defence has to be for the things most likely to kill or harm you and primarily that would be your health including your mental health first and violent attacks would follow somewhere way behind.
I have met many people who seemed ‘at one with the universe’ and I admired their calmness and harmony until something rocked their world and they went to pieces.
So physical and mental health has to be trained with a high level of durability and what better way of doing that than dealing eventually with violent disruption?
Health depends on a strong vigour and that means training the arousal levels and alchemising the energy so it can be used productively to defend both physical and mental health and negate disruption from others. It also raises the self cultivation of the individual to the highest level.
Tai Chi can be trained passively in ‘monk style’ and working with the aged and people with disabilities for calmness, exercise and in fall prevention and social activity is invaluable so it certainly has its uses, but there is also so much more.
You don’t need to become violent to deal with violence, this is proven by hundreds, maybe thousands of people that I’ve trained to become skilful in law enforcement and the security world. It can be negated by using the ‘soft front and strong back’ expounded and trained so well in a good Tai Chi holistic programme.
The health and martial aspects of Tai Chi are not mutually exclusive but in fact fit perfectly together like the yin and yang in the yin/yang Tai Chi symbol to produce a well balanced and highly cultivated individual with a vigour and calmness and a toolbox to ensure that they can cope with the rigours of life.