Thursday, April 26, 2012

太極拳: Supreme Ultimate Fist aka Tai Chi

Tai Chi translates into Supreme Ultimate Fist. Yeah!
So the other day I decided to try out Tai Chi. I have always been interested in it ever since I went running at the early hours of the morning in Taiwan and discovered a Tai Chi underworld. I thought the park would be quiet, but no every old person was up walking around the park softly hitting themselves. Some were on the grass performing Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon like moves in slow mo.

I arrived for the class a few minutes early and was the only newbie. I knew this because I was the only one not wearing black (I decided to wear my rather inconspicuous shirt obtained from band night: It depicts a pig being hit by truck under the slogan "I heavy damage you"), I didn't have the special white shoes (mine are pink and grey) and I didn't bring a mat or a stick. I walked into the class and tried to be a wallflower by hiding in the back corner. "You're new aren't you? You should stand in the middle. We do a lot of turns and you need to see what is going on." Nailed it. So there I was, the youngest by about 20 years and the only one not in black in the center of the classroom.

Now I had visions of Tai Chi being easy. It is not. The instructor arrived and after our breathing exercises and warm up, it got real. (We also did the hitting yourself thing in the warm up. This made me think of my friend Lauren. Dude we would have laughed so much doing that!) We had to stay in a squatting position and when the instructor said "If anyone comes up, we start from the beginning" I knew this would not be easy or slow.  At one point we were doing kicks and I lost my balance and my foot touched the ground with a loud thump. "I heard a foot touch the ground. We start again." Way to make friends!

Then we got to the cool stuff. My center stage position did serve me well even though I felt like a complete chop. It takes a while to get the moves but they are awesome. My favourite was the snake. Not only did it look cool because it reminded me of some moves from Kung Fu Panda, but I felt like I looked like a pro.

Tai Chi is where all other martial arts stem from. Towards the end of the class, our awesome instructor started to show us the application. I thought Tai Chi was all about energy alignment, but with each move you are able to take down your opponent. The instructor would show us one move and after a swift movement would say things like "See, leg broken" or "All ligaments snapped". This here Tai Chi is no joke.

For our next lesson we will get to use the sticks. I can't wait.