The Martial Art of Tai Chi Chuan: It's for more than just health

While Tai Chi is renowned for its ability to promote good health and longevity, it is also a martial art with application for tough situations. Some time ago I was at a family gathering in which a fight broke out between my cousin and a guy at a basketball court. It looked as though my cousin was surrounded by a bunch of guys who were kicking and stomping him. I ran into the crowd determined to help him and to not get "sucker punched" in the process.

By the time I reach my cousin, he was on the ground and two guys were kicking and punching him. The biggest one at least 6'3"/275 had his back to me. I remember thinking that I had to get one of these guys off of my cousin or else he was going to get really hurt. I chose the bigger one and pushed. At first the big guy did not seem to budge. But after a second push, he was pushed back a good ways. My cousin then got up and defended himself again the other guy while the big one turned and looked down at me with much anger (to say the least).

For some inexplicable reason I was extremely calm. I felt as if I had more that enough power to defend myself but I also had no intent to hurt this guy. We locked eyes and I yelled to him that this (the violence) needed to stop. I remember feeling confident that if he chose to continue this I would not be okay. Suddenly, this guy all 275 plus pounds of him just stopped.

After all combatants had been separated, we sorted out what had happened. The big guy looked at me and said that I had hit him from behind (and thus was trying to hurt him). Given that two guys were beating up on one, how far he was pushed back (and the fact that I am 5'11"/175 soaking wet), I can understand why he though that I had hit him. But every onlooker told him that I did not in fact hit him, but simply pushed him. Whatever happened, it gave this individual the impression that he had been hit and was a factor in his deciding to end the violence.

Later, my pregnant wife who was witness to the whole melee told me that whatever that I had been practicing all these years could be seen in me as I weaved through the crowd and avoided getting hit. For three years, I have practiced the empty hand, broadsword, and straight sword forms, push hand and power push hands. It's pretty clear that I have only scratched the surface of what Gim Sifu has to offer. Still this subtle defensive gentle martial art called "Yang Family Style Tai Chi" has a way of sinking into every area of one's life.

by Jerome Miller