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There are a wide range of martial arts options open to you, from which you should choose the best option that will give you the most benefit.

Tai Chi has for a long time been considered by many to be just a health exercise and not a viable martial art. Our 13 Dynamics system has however always retained it’s effective martial qualities and is completely different from other ‘Tai Chi’ systems.

So in a few simple categories we would like to offer you some simple comparisons for you to consider.

Effective and appropriate self defence

As a martial art one of the first considerations to consider is ‘does it work?’. Historically tai chi was made famous by ‘invincible’ Yang Lu Chan, who was Chinas top martial arts fighter in his day, who could reportedly defeat his challengers without causing injury. His sons also had a similar reputation though some were known to violently injure and maim their challengers.

In our lineage the fighting tradition has continued, with our grandmaster, Cheng Tin Hung, being a famed full contact fighter in Asia, and training dozens of international full contact fighting champions (including my teacher) in Asia. In Hong Kong he was once attacked by seven triad members wielding blackened machetes in the dark. He hospitalised all of them (though was also hospitalised himself with cuts). 

In my own experience I have been a bouncer and been able to subdue and restrain people easily and effectively without things escalating to higher levels of violence. Many of our other students have had similar jobs and others have had similar street encounters and found their skills highly practical, and kept them safe relatively easily.

Many of our school students have competed at national and world level in full contact fighting, winning many championships against other full contact styles.

Some modern martial arts concentrate on particular areas, such as bjj being a ground art. For self defence however despite those skills being useful in mma matches, they aren’t particularly helpful in a pub. Tai Chi focuses on excellent standing grappling and wrestling, as well as use of leverage and subtle techniques that don’t need much force. There’s also a variety of striking, delivered to the opponents vital points. When combined with the relevant power training even the smallest student can stop a large opponent.

One important point is tai chi gives you very good standing grappling and trapping and clinching, so violence can usually be diffused and situations prevented from escalating. Tai Chi self defence isn’t about gratuitously injuring people, unless absolutely necessary.

Health (mental and physical) and fitness 

Traditional martial tai chi gives you a wide variety of exercises, designed to be practiced daily, to keep you in an excellent physical condition. The exercises are multi purpose, building not only your physical condition but also your technique and skill at the same time, so it’s time efficient. 

The emphasis on strengthening the entire body internally and externally is combined with concentration and meditative practice which enhance your focus, attention and your ability to achieve deep, peaceful relaxation states. Many arts don’t have such a rich variety of practices that will benefit your mind and body to the same extent.

Philosophy and culture 

Tai chi comes from Taoism, which in many ways is similar to Stoic philosophy. As a practitioner of the art you will get best results from studying not only the traditional tai chi theory, which are full of Taoist philosophy, but also the classic Taoist philosophical texts. This will give you greater understanding of the philosophical ideas on which the art is based.

Taoist philosophy encourages people to work with the natural ways of nature and to have an open and accepting mind. The philosophy when studied and trained, can encourage the development of a more resilient personal nature, with a deeper sense of meaning and peaceful attitude. It’s a perfect antidote to the sometimes shallow and narcissistic culture of our times.

Many martial arts nowadays are completely devoid of any kind of high level philosophy and merely train physical skills and prowess, which is fine, but more limited. Martial arts were traditionally esteemed because they usually combined some type of philosophical contemplation along with the building of fighting skills, producing a well rounded human.

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