At the Tai Chi Symposium last week I listened to the five grandmasters discuss
their theories and philosophies of Tai Chi Chuan. I watched their performances in demonstrations
and in the workshops. All were amazing, though in different ways.
If you have been practicing one style for a long time and are exposed to another, it can be
difficult to open your mind enough to accept the idea that two very different types of movement
can both be Tai Chi Chuan. Once you can accept this, it greatly deepens and improves your understanding -
of Tai Chi Chuan and of many other things in your life.
Listening to the grandmasters talk, there is almost complete agreement on the principles -- lift the
crown, relax the shoulders, hollow the chest, relax the waist, sink the tailbone, and so on. But once
you see them in motion, though, you see seriously different interpretations of the Tai Chi Classics.
To hear them talk you would never know they have any differences at all.
In the early days of Tai Chi there no discussions of Chen style or Yang style. There was simply
Tai Chi Chuan. In that spirit everyone came together, and left friends.
Inevitably there are discussions of the age old question, which style is superior? In a fight,
which style would prevail?
Such debates are pointless. The actions and abilities of individuals determine all outcomes.
What matters is what you can do, and intend to do. Will you pursue your practice of Tai Chi with
intent, or haphazardly? Will you practice with moral intent or carelessness for the
concerns of others? Just practice Tai Chi. The benefit is cumulative.
Any style you are happy with will do.
This was the lesson of the Tai Chi Symposium: all Tai Chi Chuan taught sincerely, from the heart,
and with knowledgeable instruction is good. All differences are insignificant compared to the mutual