Reason to Study Taiji

Professor Cheng was once asked, “What is the most important reason to study Tai Chi Chuan?”

“The most important reason is that when you finally reach the place where you understand what life is about, you’ll have some health to enjoy it,” was his answer.

More than self-defense, more even than its health benefit, he taught Tai Chi Chuan as a Tao, a “way of life”.

— Wolfe Lowenthal. (1991). There Are No Secrets: Professor Cheng Man-Ching and his Tai Chi Chuan (page XVI).

[tags]taiji, quotes, cmc, reason, training[/tags]

About wujimon

taiji, meditation and health
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6 Responses to Reason to Study Taiji

  1. Cindy says:

    Is this the most important reason that the professor found from his students or from people who are practicing Taiji? Maybe he thinks if people have this reason to learn Taiji, they can get the max benefits?

  2. wujimon says:

    A lot of great masters started taiji due to poor health. If the max benefit is for health, then training for health is great! However, one thing to note is that he was quite fond of push hands training. I think this says something about the role of push hands.

    I see too many schools that just focus on health and show, but often times these goals conflict. For instance, is it healthy to have knees aligned with toe tips? Perhaps it’s better to have knee directly over ankle/heel. If so, this would not receive high marks in the “show” area as it would be very difficult to obtain low stances.

  3. cindy says:

    Practicing Taiji for demonstration is not good for health in my opinion. You focus on making the movements perfect, meeting the standard or matching the time limit or music instead of receiving benefits from doing it. I perfer practicing quietly at home or in the park with a group. In fact, my instructor said he felt healthier and had a better understanding of Taiji after retiring from competitions.

  4. wujimon says:

    Hi Cindy. My exeperiences are similar with yours and your instructor. Not only have I gotten a better understanding of taiji after retiring from competitions, but my understanding increased dramatically after I critically evaluated my previous methods while training for competitions, if that makes any sense.

  5. andi says:


    I’ve just re-read this book after doing Tai Chi for a couple of years, I first read it after doing it for a few months. I’m not decrying it as book, and I think it contains a vast amount of material on the thought and ideas of one of Tai Chi’s great figures.

    I find my reaction to it is different now to when I first read it, I think that Wolfe Lowenthal very much mediates Tai Chi through a ‘west coast’ flower-child sensibility which downplays the martial origins of the art. Not that I’m taking sides on the old “martial artists v chi huggers” debate here as I think they’re both valid. As a series on British television describes martial arts “Mind, Body and Kick-ass moves”.

    While Lowenthal makes no secret of Chen Man-Ching’s martial prowess he very much presents both the emphasis of the professor’s teaching and Tai Chi itself as being overcoming self, osing ego and increasing health. Now I’d agree that is part of Tai Chi, and an important part. But it’s also about developing skills in a martial art. Of course you could argue that far more people do Tai Chi for health in village halls and day centres, so maybe that’s actually what Tai Chi is about in the 21st century!

    I don’t compete myself, and Lowenthal is VERY against competition saying that pushing-hands is very much not about competing. However I think that there is a place for not just trying to work together to achieve something in pushing hands, but it’s also about trying to push the other person over using Tai Chi principles. If you can’t do it with your friends for fun, how you going to do it to an agressor?

    Now didn’t I ramble on there?

  6. wujimon says:

    Hi Andy. I agree a lot with what you wrote. For me, I feel lately I’ve been focusing a bit too much on the mechanical martial aspects, and not enough on the energetic/health aspects. While these sides are generally attributed to rainbow-taiji-granola-eating-hippies … (heheheh, in fact, I’m a fan of granola.. :)) I do see value in it.

    Actually, push hands plays multiple roles in my immediate life, but not just physical, but also emotional and mental. We encounter things everyday and I try to apply the principles of push hands and taiji to those facets of my life. It’s worked so far 🙂

    But I agree that taiji was developed as a martial art and we shouldn’t lose sight of the martial. But I just worry that if I focus too much on the martial, I’ll lose sight of the art 🙂

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