You may have walked into a studio or seen a YouTube clip of an elderly person practicing slow, smooth, and big movements. If you didn't know something more about Tai Chi, it might be hard for you to believe that it could ever be used for self defense. Yet this ancient art is one of the best tools out there to keep yourself safe in any situation.
It's true that Tai Chi takes more time to learn than some other systems do. With a qualified teacher, it's possible to learn moves that can be applied in a combat situation right away. However, to use Tai Chi as a whole can take longer than usual. It doesn't take 10 years like some people believe, yet realistically, to use Tai Chi as a whole may take 2 to 3 years. Yet the self-defense tools you learn can last longer than other systems because this martial art is designed to be used by the elderly as well as by those who are young.
While a younger person might be able to exchange blows or kicks with an attacker, these kinds of tactics would be far more risky for people who are older. Tai Chi teaches fighting strategies which can cause a lot of damage to your opponent without requiring a lot of physical strength. You learn how to send all your body weight into an opponent. Even if you weigh only 100 or 150 pounds, this can be devastating to anyone who chooses to fight you. You can even learn how to sense weaknesses in your attacker's body so you can take advantage of them. You could pick up, for example, that your opponent has a misaligned vertebrae. If you combined that knowledge with the ability to send all your weight through your strikes, you could quickly stop someone who chose to attack you.
Furthermore, for an older person, an attack might cause serious health problems even with successful self-defense. Tai Chi also teaches how to minimize the damage of an attack. Most people who are attacked will freeze up and get stiff. Not only will this make it more difficult for them to fight, it will also maximize the damage of an opponents' strikes. Tai Chi teaches how to relax during a physical conflict so much that the force can actually pass through you and not do any damage. As your skill increases, you can allow more and more force to go through you without actually hurting you.
If you are an average American, you are much more likely to die because of health and stress related issues rather because of a physical attack. Tai Chi can help you avoid these problems while at the same time teaching you a very effective fighting method. If you can learn to really be relaxed during a physical attack, the day-to-day stresses like traffic and deadlines will not phase you. Add in the other well-known health benefits of this martial art, and you have something that can increase your life expectancy in many ways at the same time.
Make no mistake. Tai Chi teaches real, deadly fighting strategies that you can use to protect yourself in a bad situation. It includes tactics that work even if you are elderly. Yet it simultaneously gives you stress management tools and other health benefits as well. Is Tai Chi real for self defense? Definitely!
Sigung Richard Clear has over 30 years of continuous study in Martial Tai Chi and Chi Kung both in the U.S. and China.http://www.clearstaichi.com