WHY SHAOLIN PRACTITIONERS BENEFIT MORE THAN TAI CHI CHUAN PRACTITIONERS IN THE TAI CHI CHUAN FESTIVAL
You mentioned that the Tai Chi Chuan Festival in St Petersburg benefited Shaolin practitioners more than Tai Chi Chuan practitioners. How is this possible?
— Sifu Joan Browne, Chief Instructor of Ireland
I was glad that a lot of Shaolin practitioners attended the Tai Chi Chuan Festival in St Petersburg in Florida in November 2012. Although Tai Chi Chuan practitioners benefited much from the Festival, I believe Shaolin practitioner benefitted even more.
How is it possible that although courses are on Tai Chi Chuan, Shaolin practitioners can benefit more than Tai Chi Chuan practitioners? It is useful to note that the question here deals with possibility. And in the case of the Tai Chi Chuan Festival in St Petersburg, it actually happened.
This is possible because of two main reasons. One, the benefits of the Shaolin practitioners are inter-discipline, whereas the benefits of Tai Chi Chuan practitioners are intra-discipline, or within its discipline. Secondly, Shaolin practitioners not only add benefits from Tai Chi Chuan, but also their inter-disciplinary understanding increases the benefit in Shaolin Kungfu. In other words, they understand Shaolin Kungfu more because they have taken a course on Tai Chi Chuan.
The benefits that Tai Chi Chuan practitioners get are from lessons typically taught in the art they practice, though they may or may not have learnt the lessons yet. On the other hand, the benefits that Shaolin practitioners get are not from lessons typically taught in the art they practice.
Let us take an example of rotating the waist. Waist rotation is a basic principle in Tai Chi Chuan, which means that any Tai Chi Chuan practitioner would know how to rotate his waist correctly when making a Tai Chi Chuan movement. If he does not know, it means that he has not been taught correctly.
The reality today is that many Tai Chi practitioners (or dancers) do not rotate their waist when making Tai Chi Chuan movements. This is because they learned their movements wrongly, and it is an important reason why many Tai Chi practitioners suffer from knee injuries and back pain.
On the other hand, waist rotation is not a basic principle in Shaolin Kungfu, which means that many Shaolin practitioners would not rotate their waist when making a Shaolin movement.
Would the Shaolin practitioners have knee injuries and back pain if they do not rotate their waist? No, they would not. (If they do have knee injuries or back pain, it is due to other factors.)
Why is it that Tai Chi practitioners have knee injuries and back pain but not Shaolin practitioners if they do not rotate their waist? It is because Tai Chi Chuan movements and Shaolin movements are different.
Hence, those Shaolin practitioners who also learn Tai Chi Chuan know waist rotation, but not those who learn only Shaolin Kungfu. When a Shaolin practitioner attempts to ward off a powerful attack from an opponent, he may be unable to do so. But if he knows waist rotation learnt from Tai Chi Chuan, he can ward off the attack using the same force.
Secondly, waist rotation can enhance the benefits found in Shaolin Kungfu itself. For example, with waist rotation when he executes a punch, he can generate spiral force from his dan tian. Without waist rotation he only generates linear force from his shoulder.
Actually all that is found in Tai Chi Chuan is also found in Shaolin Kungfu, but much of the material that concerns this question is usually found at an advanced stage. On the other hand, this material is found at the beginning of Tai Chi Chuan.
For example, waist rotation is not specially taught in Shaolin Kungfu until a practitioner has advanced enough to learn exploding internal force from his dan tian. At earlier stages he just uses physical strength. But as waist rotation is a basic principle in Tai Chi Chuan, which is applied in every Tai Chi Chuan movement, it is taught right at the beginning.
We are, of course, referring to genuine Shaolin Kungfu and genuine Tai Chi Chuan. If a person learns Tai Chi dance, he may not learn waist rotation regardless of how long he may have learnt. On the other hand, if a person learns from a school that teaches only external Shaolin Kungfu, which is the norm today, he will not have the opportunity to learn exploding internal force from the dan tian even if he has learnt for a long time.
The above is taken from Question 1 October 2013 Part 1 of the Selection of Questions and Answers.
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