Tai ChiKung Fu as a Way to PhysicalTai Chi

Fitness & Emotional Well-Being


By Laoshi Tao Ch'i Li


Kung Fu is often thought of as an ancient method of pugilism, that is, fighting and self-defense. This is true and always has been at the core of its existence. However, the lay person does not often realize that to arrive at the point where we can take care of ourselves, defensively, we must also have ourselves together mentally, emotionally, and be well grounded in our spiritual direction. In order to be a good fighter one must know his strengths and weaknesses. One must work everyday on closing the holes in the armor by building up in the areas of self-knowledge and health. Therefore, Kung Fu can be and, must be, an art and practice which takes into account our totality, for we can not win any battle, physical, economic or emotional, if we are not strong and unified as an individual on all levels.

Training in Kung Fu, then, is a challenge to our instinct for survival to bring the quality of our lives to a superior level. This takes all of our attention all the time. Training in the martial arts is not simply physically demanding, but requires us to examine ourselves at the deepest levels. The Kung Fu practitioner's belief in the life force, or "chi" brings about a lifestyle which causes every moment to be an adventure in search of a way to become more deeply involved with nature and forge oneself into a worthy vessel for its pure expression. Undoubtedly, this causes many changes within the individual, all of which are positive, although growing pains are also a part or any new experience. When the life force seeks expression through us and we make an effort to recognize this we can cooperate and grow in ways that were previously unimaginable. As the Kung Fu man or woman grows and develops, so do the people around them. The intrinsic energy flows through the individual and out into the environment around them.

The process for attaining these goals in Kung Fu begins, of course with the physical training that is necessary for developing combative techniques and mental focus on strategy and fighting principles. This initial training brings out the chi flow from within because it is released by the practice of the survival skills. This primal energy finds expression in the various sophisticated and direct techniques of the art, thus giving the body greater strength, elasticity, and endurance. The old grow younger and the young gain temperance of their youthful carelessness. It has been found by historians and sociologists, such as Toyneby, that people in climatic areas requiring daily striving for physical survival tend to lead longer, healthier Lives, provided that the survival factors are not too extreme.

This all proves out through the daily practice of Kung Fu and other martial arts, since we find that we are using the combative techniques and principles to enhance the dynamics and quality of everyday non-combative" life. Please note that we are not practicing a hectic, frantic, or paranoid type of energy here, but rather a secure and self-reliant kind which allows for control environmental circumstances and avoidance of being the effect of them.