Tai Chi, Fear, and Insecurity

Fear and insecurity are major factors affecting human behavior in today’s world. They are responsible for a large percentage of personal and emotional problems, and hold us back from living life fully in many ways. They have also been shown to play a role in mental and physical illness and may even lead to drug addiction.

What causes fear and insecurity?

These character traits are caused by a variety of reasons. For our purposes here, we will focus on one of the most common ones.

We have been conditioned since early childhood that it is of the utmost importance what others think of us. This has, to a large extent, become the basis of how we live from day to day.  We worry so much about what others think and say about us, that we lose our sense of self and what is truly important in our lives.

The Tao Te Ching, an ancient text that addresses all sorts of life situations states, “When we live our lives to please others, we become their slave.” When we care more about what other people think and say rather than follow what we know in our heart is right, we allow them to control us, hence, we become their slave.

So what can we do to escape this trap? One answer to this is quite simple actually: We need to find an art that we love, and do it!

The effect of art on our daily lives

The purpose of art is to enrich our lives from within, and also to share with others to enrich their lives. Just the simple act of practicing an art, whether it be painting, writing, music, dance, cooking, or any other art, builds important aspects of our character – for one, self confidence.

When we undertakes learning an art, for example music, we begin with an empty slate, not knowing anything about it.  Slowly, with weekly lessons and regular practice, we acquire new skills that we did not have before.  Put simply, in a short time, we can actually play music!

The sense of accomplishment that comes from this naturally increases our confidence.  Hence, building self confidence and a secure feeling.  This new feeling transfers over into our daily life in many ways, all positive.  And gradually our fears and insecurities seem to dissolve away.

Is martial art training a solution?

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.  

When we speak about a martial art, we realize that learning it requires self discipline and concentration.  In the beginning, there are many difficulties to overcome. Pushing the body to continue when the legs are tired 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.

Martial art training cultivates self confidence

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 fears and insecurities we spoke of earlier seem to dissolve away, and are replaced with a true sense of confidence that is unshakable.

Self confidence dissolves fear and insecurity

Now multiply this a thousand fold when we begin learning the self defense applications of each of these postures that we memorized during 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. What will happen to those feelings of fear and insecurity that we have been speaking of above?

A treasure for humankind

Tai chi is a treasure for 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 for teachers:

Teach your students well.  Make sure they understand the value of tai chi and the wonderful benefits for them and future generations.

If you enjoyed this article, you will may want to also see Wude: The Spirit of Martial Arts

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