Tai Chi in Taipei

Programs for this blog post

Chinese Language & Taiwanese Culture

Authored By:

James Dopp

To help students relax and channel some energy, we organized a Tai Chi lesson on campus after class.  We arrived to a nice shaded walkway, in a quiet and not so heavily trafficked area to meet the ” 師傅 Shifu“ (Master).  But given that it is Summer in Taipei, and that the heat and humidity are at their highest right now, of course it was bound to rain.   And it did!   As the canopy above us gradually began to let more and more rain pour down upon our heads, we followed the Shifu to a semi indoor area with a roof to continue our lesson.  Here are some student accounts of the acvitivy for you below.  

"Our cultural activity yesterday was learning taichi! We got to learn from several masters including tournament champions which was super cool. It was a really fascinating glimpse into a world I never would’ve seen otherwise. They were very patient, willing to indulge our curiosity, and honestly seemed as excited to be there as we were. 

The class itself consisted of a mixture of guided exercises, teaching on the basic principles of taichi, wordsmanship demonstration, and my personal favorite - sparring! For context, the way the sparring worked was you and your opponent stand in front of each other and attempt to knock the other off balance - the first to lift a foot off the ground loses. It was really exciting to put the conceptual principles we had been taught into concrete action. For example, I remember they taught us to use our opponents movement against them, so I figured out that if I pulled my opponent forward as they attempted to push me, I could easily get them off balance. However, when I asked one of the teachers how to beat this strategy they showed me that even the pulling motion can be used against you! All my opponent would have to do is lean with the pull and push me over while i’m leaning backwards.

The whole experience definitely left me excited to learn more, and even curious if I could apply the philosophy of taichi to other areas of life. 

I wonder if I could get my dad to spar with me…"   - Noah. 

"Today we did Tai chi which was really interesting. When I first heard Tai chi I immediately thought of old people in the public park but when we began to learn it I didn’t realize how much detail there is behind the actions and the philosophy about why they practice the way the do was very interesting. When put in to practice I see why they spend so much time practicing. At the end of learning the form we versed each other in a battle of balance, the goal; to push the other one to move their feet. And I made the poor decision to go against the master. He swept me off my feet every time. All in all, it was a very fun experience and is something I would have never considered till now."  - Lincoln