Tai Chi, Martial Art Training, and Overcoming Insecurity
Insecurity is the motivation for much of human behavior in today’s world. It is the cause of a huge percentage of personal and emotional problems we face in our daily lives, and it holds us back from living fully in many ways.
We have been conditioned that it is of the utmost importance what others think of us, and this has become the basis of how we live from day to day. We worry so much about what others may think and say about us, that we lose our sense of clarity about what is truly important for our individual lives.
How this insecurity begins – where it originates – is not the purpose of this article. What is important here is that we acknowledge our insecurities, and that there are actions we can take to eliminate them.
In this article, I will discuss how and why tai chi is an excellent tool towards eliminating insecurity.
We must first understand that tai chi is a martial art. The full name of this art is tai chi chuan (also written taijiquan). The word chuan/quan translates to fist or boxing, hence martial art.
The key here is not so much that this is a martial art as that it is an art.
The purpose of arts is to enrich our lives, from within and also to share with others to enrich their lives.
When one undertakes learning an art, for example music, they begin with an empty slate, not knowing anything about it. Slowly, with weekly lessons and regular practice, one acquires skills that they did not have before. Put simply, one day they can actually play music! The sense of accomplishment that comes from this naturally increases one’s confidence within. Hence, a building of self confidence and a secure feeling. This new feeling transfers into one’s daily life in many ways, all positive. And gradually those insecurities seem to dissolve away.
When we speak about tai chi as a martial art, we realize learning it requires the development of a great deal of self discipline and concentration. In the beginning, there are many difficulties to overcome. Pushing the body to continue when the legs are tired and trembling from holding stances, cultivating the use of intention (via strict mental concentration) as the source of power for movement, memorizing complex series of movements, and even more complex interrelated movements of all parts of the body coordinated together as one unified whole… and much more.
When we persevere with daily training over a period of time, our legs become strong, our intention becomes fully focused, and our movements flow easily from one posture to the next – beautifully, powerfully, and elegantly. From this sense of accomplishment, those insecurities we spoke of earlier seem to disappear, and are replaced with a true sense of confidence that is unshakable.
Now multiply this a thousand fold when we begin learning the self defense applications of each of these postures that we memorized in solo training. In effect, engaging in partner training exercises to develop the ability to apply all of these “beautiful” movements for actual self defense. Imagine the sense of self confidence you develop when you know clearly that you can defend yourself in any situation without a moment’s thought or fear.
Tai chi is a treasure to humankind. It has been passed down painstakingly by the ancient masters of the past with the intent to preserve and cultivate balance in all aspects of human life. We owe a great deal of thanks to their unselfishness and patience in sharing tai chi’s original training methods, and we have the responsibility to make sure that this wonderful art does not die out or become lost in the modern world.
A message to all tai chi teachers: Teach your students well. Make sure they understand the value of tai chi and the wonderful benefits for them and future generations.