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 😉
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.