Even kids recognize Taijiquan when they see it- what can we do to make more people practice it?

Some days ago I practiced in my favorite park in the morning. It is an old cemetery and there are many people running of having a walk. And while a practiced, a school class passed by. The kids were around 11 or 12 years old. And as they walked by I heard one asking “what is that” and the other kids whispered “that’s Tai Chi”. They recognized Taijiquan – even though I am not old, Chinese, male, and I wasn’t even wearing a silk pyjama 😉

A post shared by Angelika Fritz (@qialance) on

First I thought how great it is that these kids have seen Taijiquan in real life now. Not some old Chinese people in a documentary on TV, but a real western woman in their neighborhood.

And then it dawned on me: some of the kids actually already knew what Taijiquan is. And I started thinking about the popularity of Taijiquan.

Because this incident with those young school kids made it clear: many, many people can identify Taijiquan when they see it. Even if they have no idea about the background, principles etc., most people recognize Taijiquan!

So as we, the Taijiquan community, want to grow and prosper our art, I think that is a really great starting point! Everyone has this calm relaxed image in their heads already. And nowadays there are so many people who are longing to feel exactly like that!

But somehow only a few people actually consider startingTaijiquan themselves.

And I wonder why?! Is it because it looks too much like an inner circle thing? With the dresscode and Chinese characters? Maybe.

Is it the different styles and how Taijiquan people fight and gossip so much about each other style? Maybe.

Is it because Taijiquan classes are not as omnipresent as yoga classes? Maybe.

Is it because people think this martial art is only for old people? Maybe.

No matter what the reasons are, I think there are many things we, the tai chi community, can do to support each other and to attract more people who would really benefit from the arts. I collected some examples of what we could do to make more people try Taijiquan:

  • We could practice outside more often. So that people all around us see Taijqiuan practicing people they can relate to. Because Taijiquan is not only for old Chinese men!
  • We could be more visible online. Show our exercises on Instagram, talk about or teachers on Facebook, share our experiences in blogs. Just to give the social proof for beginners, that it is worth the time and the money.
  • We could be more supportive of each another. Does it really matter if my style is the best applicable/most authentic/…? Isn’t the diversity of styles and forms and weapons and applications what keeps the art interesting?
  • We could even modernize, at least a bit. For example Tai chi vs. Taijiquan. Since 1956 (since the introduction of Pinyin) it is officially Taijiquan! And I am totally aware that I use Tai Chi, too. But ending that big mess would be really helpful, I think.
  • We could also modernize pictures and videos. I mean, most people have a smartphone with a really good camera in it. If you are a teacher, why don’t you update your pictures on your homepage to give it a fresh look? I sometimes see homepage where I wonder if that teacher actually still teaches, because the himepage is so old. And with more and more people going online with their smartphone: do you know how your homepage looks on a phone?

Those are just some ideas and thoughts. Please feel free to comment and discuss, especially if you have an more ideas and thoughts.

All in all, I think Taijiquan is in a really good position. So many people know it when they see it. Now it is our task as practitioners to talk about the benefits. How it improves our everday life in this modern crazyness.

And lets work together to make the beautiful arts of Qi Gong and Taijiquan prosper in the future! Please comment on what YOU do to help them survive.

Happy Qi!

Angelika

 

2 thoughts on “Even kids recognize Taijiquan when they see it- what can we do to make more people practice it?

  1. Monika

    Hi Angelika,
    I think lot’s of people like to watch other’s doing Taijiquan, but if it comes down to learning the art they find out that they’ve got to learn and practice and shy away again. I have been speaking to a teacher a couple of month ago. She told me that she lowered her offer at the Volkshochschule (adult education centre) during the last years from Yang 37 to Yang 24 to Yang 10. Her students even found Yang 10 too difficult to learn. They just wanted to follow her when she announced the moves, but they hadn’t got the ambition to learn the movements themselves.
    I am retired and I am attending a Yang 108 course for seniors. I always knew that Taijiquan was what I wanted to learn when I retire and was lucky to directly find a course. I love the form and I enjoy practising. I practise at home, in the morning and in the evening. I have practised single movements like “Repulse Monkey” on the nereby cemetry (which is like a big park), but only when I was sure that the trees and bushes around me were high enough to keep me out of side and that nobody was coming my way. I wouldn’t feel at ease to practice outside on a lawn with people passing by, wondering what that old woman is doing there.
    Keep on the good work !
    Best wishes
    Monika from Dortmund/Germany

    Reply
    1. Angelika Fritz Post author

      Hi Monika,

      oh, I understand. People like to learn easy instant-gratification things. And I think it is ok for those, at least they do something! I believe there will always be others, like you, who want to get more into it. It’s great that you started the long form, I practice it myself and enjoy it a lot!

      As for practicing outside: just keep practicing! It sounds like you found a great spot for yourself! And maybe or maybe not one day you’ll feel comfortable to be seen, too, and just practice anywhere. And if not, that is also totally ok!

      Angelika

      Reply

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