On Not Neglecting the Near for the Far: The Practice of Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan

Drawing on a range of perspectives, this contribution presents a discussion of some of the philosophical principles underlying the practice of Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan. Based on the Daoist concepts of ‘the constant within change’ and ‘movement within stillness’, Tai Chi Chuan can be understood as the physical embodiment of these principles. Relying on an analysis of the underlying anatomical structures, along with concepts of the theory of practice, the present discussion focuses on several aspects of the Wu Family archive with particular emphasis on the process of ‘practising of the self’ as a means to martial skill. As a martial art it is a training system in which the practitioner prepares for the continual relational changes that an opponent might present. Through discussion and the presentation of examples of selected forms, as well as pushing hands techniques, we seek to highlight the mental, emotional and physical components this state of ‘constant readiness within the changing martial parameters’ might involve.

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