People love to show off their tattoos.
Why? Did they design them? Did they ink them?
They simply purchased them.
The artist may deserve credit, but not the consumer.

The same would be true if you bought a 'prestige car' - did you design it? Build it?


In addition to clumsy shoulder hunching when lifting, almost universally there is a lack of variety in what we do. You can become tethered one way and develop a degree of forward stoop of the upper back.

(Sarah Key)


Sword forms may well be beautiful to watch and entertaining. This is fine.
As such, they represent an art form. In much the same way as dance.
However, it is quite another matter to train a sword as though it represented some measure of self defence.
We are not living in the past.
Modern times require modern methods of combat.
A sword is not a viable means of defending yourself in the 21st Century.


Can anything be stupider than that a man has the right to kill me because he lives on the other side of a river and his ruler has a quarrel with mine, though I have not quarrelled with him?
(Blaise Pascal)


Sword forms were invented to address the needs of the 16th Century not the 21st.
Your modern urban opponent carries a baseball bat, knife, screwdriver or gun. Not a sword. 
You will not be carrying a sword either.
Swords were once the favoured combat weapon.
The martial arts which grew around swordplay were a necessary and relevant area of study.
The sword skills were literally a matter of life and death.
Not any more.



Virtually every tai chi school in the UK is teaching 'tai chi for health'.
Usually there is no real syllabus and the material is simplistic.
Some classes may advertise themselves as 'taijiquan' but are in fact teaching tai chi for health.


Finding a class

When a new starter scours the web looking for the Art they are faced with an array of approaches that are all called 'tai chi' but are often quite dissimilar.
In truth, there is often little consensus
It is important to find out for yourself what taijiquan really means.
There was a samurai who had a rat in his house and could not get rid of it. He acquired a superb cat, stalwart and robust. But the rat was quicker and simply made a fool of it. Then the samurai got another cat, more cunning and astute. But the rat was on his guard and hid except when the cat was asleep. Then a Zen monk from a nearby temple lent the samurai his own cat, the most ordinary-looking cat you could imagine, that spent all its time drowsing and napping and paid no attention to anything around it. The samurai shrugged and said the cat was no good, but the monk insist he keep it. So the cat stayed and slept and slept, and soon the rat grew bold again and began trotting forth right in front of the cat, which showed absolutely no interest in it. Then one day, with one swipe of its paw, it caught the rat and pinned it down. Strength of body and technical skill are nothing, without vigilance of mind!

 (Taisen Deshimaru)



Taijiquan does not exist apart from you.
It is not separate - like a car.
It cannot be inked onto you - like a tattoo.

Your own body brings the Art to life and the quality of what you produce is created entirely and only by you.
Some styles of tai chi contain all of the information about how the physical body works so that the sophistication of the movements can really go deep into your body. But other styles of tai chi lack this component. Their movements are very loose and are not very sophisticated when looked at from a purely physical perspective. This usually happens because the people who learned did so just by watching someone and mimicking what they did, and were not able to learn the finer aspects of the movement.

 (Bruce Frantzis)


The outcome

The quality of your taijiquan is directly proportionate to the degree to which you invest in the Art.
If you are a 'toe dipper' - a tourist - then you will never get very far.
Only by plunging fully into the training can you hope to gain real skill
An understanding of taijiquan requires commitment, sincerity, humility and a lifetime of practice.


The technically learnable part of it must be practiced to the point of repletion.

(Eugen Herrigel)



Taijiquan is akin to playing a piano.
The Art exists to the degree that you can produce the skills using your own body.
If you cannot move in a graceful, nimble, coordinated, agile, functional and pragmatic manner... there will be no music.
The quality of the taijiquan is entirely determined by you. It cannot be bought or bullied into existence



Skills are not like commodities.
They cannot be bought.
If you buy a piano it doesn't just play itself. You have to do the work yourself.
The quality
of the music is entirely contingent upon how skilfully you personally can play that piano.


We are checking our smartphones on average 221 times a day. Recent research found that 80 percent of millennials look at their phones upon waking; this addiction is a strong one. As a result, our cognitive processing has become shallower and we have become so distracted that we play directly into the hands of the autopilot. Digital devices are the modern day equivalent of tranquillisers. They instil a trance-like state almost immediately as they are anchors for our subconscious to take over. 

(Chris Barez-Brown)


Using your arm badly involves poor stabilisation of the scapula through under-activity. At the same time, there is over-activity of the upper trapezius. When lifting, the scapula fails to stay glued to the back of the chest wall. It puts the small muscles of the rotator cuff to greater effort but, by making the neck muscles contribute, it causes chronic neck strain.

(Sarah Key)


Wrong muscle use

The muscles supporting the shoulder are not very strong when you compare them to the enormous muscles of the legs and buttocks.
Poor use of scapula and limited core strength lead to misuse of the shoulder.