What do T'ai Chi Chuan practitioners think of T'ai Chi Chih?

I went to my first t’ai chi class at the local community center tonight, and was a little disappointed when I found out that we’ll be learning T’ai Chi Chih instead of T’ai Chi Chuan. I don’t really care, because the slower I can start out the better; and there are a handful of old folks in the class, so it makes sense that the community center would go with the lowest-impact form of t’ai chi. I figure if I like the Chih at the end of the 8 weeks, I’ll look into the Chuan. But it got me wondering.

What do T’ai Chi Chuan practitioners think of T’ai Chi Chih? I know that it is not a martial art, but is it considered “legitimate” t’ai chi, just a simpler version? Is it looked down on? It feels kind of weird to know that some white guy made it up 30 years ago, and that he is “the” word on T’ai Chi Chih.

Also, what’s the consensus on spelling “t’ai chi?” Does it get an apostrophe or not? When I Google “t’ai chi,” it says “did you mean tai chi?” But it looks funny to me without the apostrophe. And is there any rule about capitalization? I’ve been going with capitalizing the full name (i.e. “T’ai Chi Chuan”), but lowercasing just “t’ai chi.”

Whatever its reputation, I’m looking forward to the next class. :slight_smile:

Strictly speaking, in a taoist bent you are learning the purest form. The form is important…power and speed are incidental. Only after mastering the form and underlying yin may you advance. Of course it is a fighting art taken to its spiritual core. Therapeutic, in reduction, one taps its flow.

No. Yes.

T’ai Chi Chih is essentially intended for honkies who don’t have a clue about real taijiquan, don’t want to put the effort into getting a clue about real taiji, and want to feel better about themselves by swinging their arms around in motions that vaguely resemble the taiji forms.

Now, if you happen to be one of those people, more power to you. But I wouldn’t go in there under the impression that you’re learning the basics of taiji. In fact, it may even be counterproductive if you end up learning poor body mechanics that you’re just gonna have to unlearn later.

If you’re looking for something that will help you with taiji but can’t find a taiji class, I’d actually recommend taking up Pilates, since the body mechanics are similar to those used in taiji. Of course, finding a good Pilates teacher can be almost as hard as finding a good taiji teacher.

I believe that Tai Chi Chih would instill the basics and actually be a building class into Tai Chi Ch’uan… Hawk’s is of a more overt opinion, the American tendency to get the cart before the horse.

I’m not quite sure what you mean by this–could you clarify a bit?

From what I understand of Tai Chi Chih it consists of basic movements taken from Tai Chi Chuan. It is Tai Chi Chuan broken down. It seems like this would be a good way to learn all of the basic movements of tai chi chuan and cultivate a deeper understanding and application of the mechanics of tai chi chuan. It seems very much like the extremely traditional instruction that I received in martial arts. We would learn individual movements and stances and practice them for thousands of repetitions before the actual form (Kata) and the greater application of the parts was learned. I agree that there is a theoretical limit to Tai Chi Chih and it fails in in the fact that it doesn’t teach the “hitching” of these basic movements in a final fluid form, but I feel that Tai Chi Chih could be a valuable groundwork in conjunction with Tai Chi Chuan.
I simply believe that your opinion was of an overt, American, “yang” tendency to dismiss the boring, rote, and proper repetition of the constituent parts (the horse) in favor of the more appealing aesthetic application (the cart).

So if I decide to learn T’ai Chi Chuan at the end of the summer, I’ll be starting all over again (figuring that whatever I learn in the next 8 weeks can’t be much worse than what I’m starting with now)?

FWIW, I’m not one of “those” people; I have little choice in the matter at this point, short of just dropping out of the class. As I mentioned in the OP, I thought I was signing up for Chuan – I didn’t find out about it being Chih until last night (in fact, I’d never even heard of T’ai Chi Chih until last night). I’ve paid my money and it’s only 8 classes, so I figure I’ll stick with it. Maybe I’ll wind up being one of “those” people, but it wasn’t my intention. :wink:

A more accurate statement would be that it consists of basic movements inspired by taijiquan. Big difference.

If you want to learn the basic movements & mechanics, it would behoove you to study real taiji qigong rather than a system that has screwed-up body mechanics.

And I feel that you’d be better off studying the form and taiji qigong. After all, that’s what they’re for.

Nope, I’m dismissing Tai Chi Chih because it doesn’t give you the proper boring, rote, and proper repetition of the constituent parts. My taiji teacher studied directly under Fu Zhongwen and Ma Yueh-Liang, so I like to think that I do in fact have something of a traditional approach to the issue.

Yeah, pretty much. On the other hand, I doubt you’ll get too screwed up in 8 weeks. But when you do practice your Tai Chi Chih, try to keep the ten essentials in mind (scroll down to the bottom of this page).

In fairness, I think a lot of “those” people are likely to be folks like senior citizens who are basically just looking for some form of gentle exercise and aren’t going to be too enthused about things like standing post exercises or tossing sandbags back and forth. On the other hand, if you end up being one of those woo-woo types who just want to feeeeel the ennnnerrrgy, I’ll lose all respect for you. :wink:

Sarcasm has always come across to me as the twisted truth…so however you wish to dismiss my legitimate thoughts is fine to the lie.

Huh? Seriously, no sarcasm was intended in my previous post, and I apologize if it came across that way. And what do you mean by “fine to the lie”?

Cool, I will … thanks. :slight_smile:

Yeah, like you have any respect for me now. :wink:

FWIW, I don’t get what “sarcasm” devilsknew is referring to, either; your reply seemed straightforward to me.