March 9, 2014 · 9:00 AM
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"T'ai chi ch'uan (or Taijiquan) is a relatively modern phrase. It came about in the late 19th century. Before that, what we now know as Taiji was called by other names, such as hao ch'uan' (translated 'loose boxing') or its more correct name of dim-mak (translated 'the striking of the vital points' or 'death-point striking'). It's ironic that the art most people call Taiji has now been reduced to a wimp's boxing rather than the 'supreme ultimate boxing,' which is what T'ai chi ch'uan means. Once it was known as the most deadly fighting art ever invented."
"Nowadays, most other martial artists and even ordinary street fighters are able to take on any of the so-called Taiji masters and grand masters and defeat them with no trouble at all. Most of these Taiji people would have no hope of defending themselves in the streets. The reason? Taiji has lost its roots, its beginnings. What people teach as being representative of the whole art today is a mere shell of taiji's former glory."
"There is a bittersweet irony about taiji's migration to the West. We would never have gained this great martial/healing art if certain individuals had not brought it to us. But the Western mind was just not ready for the effort that needs to be put into learning such an art. So we changed it to a simpler form -- that of an 'exercise.' Taijiquan had already been changed dramatically, but when it finally arrived in the West, we took great pains to modify this once great art into something that was easy and quick to learn, and something that the mystics could go 'oh, wow' over. The martial aspects of Taijiquan were lost, but not forever. Nowadays there is a resurgence of interest in the martial side of Taijiquan. Sadly, it had almost died and was very difficult to revive again, since few even knew that it was a martial art. The irony is that people are now discovering that even the great healing benefits and spiritual side of Taijiquan can never be found if it is not done as it was originally intended -- as a great fighting art."
ERLE MONTAIGUE -- May 1997