Many of the folks who I have taught Tai Chi to in my career have moved over from external martial arts. They have seen the exhibitions of great strength and Olympic quality gymnastics from the Masters, and they trained diligently to see how far they could advance in the arts. These martial artists come to Tai Chi usually when they are a little older and still want to participate in the arts but have lost a little range of motion, gained a pound or two and realize they will probably not need to pummel four thugs at the same time.
However, most of the people who walk through my doors have no martial arts background and just want to improve their quality of life and they have heard that Tai Chi can help them. One hurdle is that the media including me, promulgate the stories of Tai Chi masters pushing people through walls, breaking bricks without touching them and actually changing the weather just to name a few! Now, how is this going to motivate “Mr. Greene” to join my class who is rehabilitating from back surgery. Well, it won’t. This brings me to a recent TV commercial about some drug where an elderly couple are standing in a sand trap of a golf course, the husband states that he plays golf badly and he wants to continue to do so and this drug will help him. Being a golfer myself I totally understand. I was fortunate enough in my younger days to have a job photographing pro golfers in tournaments. What they could do with a golf ball and club was almost magical. We can compare this almost directly with Tai Chi. The benefits of Tai Chi for most of us our enjoyment, better balance, coordination and inner peace. Anything beyond that is gravy.