NCCAM spin on “Tie Chee” vs Real Taijiquan

Spread the love

Normally, I don’t mind anyone else’s take on martial arts for therapeutic and health purposes. But when I examined the page on “tie – chee” through the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine website, I had to stop and take notice.

This page on “tie – chee” passed before the eyes of highly degreed health professionals: Gloria Yeh, M.D., M.P.H., Harvard Medical School; Laura Redwine, Ph.D., VA San Diego Healthcare System; Dan Halpain, A.B.T./H.H.P.; Chenchen Wang, M.D., M.Sc., Tufts-New England Medical Center; Adeline Ge, M.D., NIH Clinical Center; and Shan Wong, Ph.D., and Patrick Mansky, M.D.

And, I’m sorry to say, that the treatment of Taijiquan here as an internal martial art is careless. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the fact that so many notables respect the healing potentials of this practice, therefore, “tie – chee” is now a verifiable method of complementary alternative medicine. I am completely thankful to the above doctors for this achievement.

On the other hand, I thought that being a degreed health professional meant being detail oriented. That paper on “tie – chee” is far from it. With the high page rank of Tai Chi for Health Purposes on the web, this page would be among the first that people would find during a search – And this page belongs to a highly respected organisation. Therefore, this page would shape public opinion and their perspective of Taijiquan.

I’m sure these are very busy people which is why they allowed so many misconceptions to stand out; they’re just too busy to really look into the history and root of internal martial arts. That’s OK. I’m here to help.

But Rather than start my own taijiquan encyclopedia here, I’m just going over a few errors that stick out like a sore thumb at NCCAM, then I’m going to direct you to one of the true martial arts masters on this planet, my favourite sifu on the subject of Taijiquan, Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming.

First the statement: Tai chi (pronounced “tie chee” and also known by some other names and spellings) is a mind-body practice that originated in China as a martial art…

I used Taijiquan and Tai Chi Chuan interchangeably because they come from different dialects, but mean the same thing: Grand Ultimate Fist. They both sound the same when Dr. Yang pronounces it. What matters are the phonetics – as in the pinyin system of Chinese Patent Herbal Remedies, so it doesn’t really matter how you spell it in english.

Tai Chi and Tai Chi Chuan are not interchangeable. Tai Chi is the philosophy from whence the fist form or “chuan” was created. Taijiquan has only been around for about 1000 years as opposed to about 4000 years for the philosophy. Imagine putting 4000 years of wisdom on yin yang within the flow of nature into a martial art form. The manifestation of Tai Chi into a “fist” form has far more implications than health and self defense. The “fist” form was created to train the practitioner in controlling energy flow, within himself and the world around him.

Now, we are traversing into those esoteric areas of the bioenergetic spectrum. When I talk about psychoenergetics at HealingMindN Power Circle and bioenergetics here at this blog, there is no separation between them. I have both sites at and because there is always a careful balance between Mind and Body energies; they are inseparable.

The real goal of Taijiquan is for the mind to control the body. You’re going to have to leave your decadent western perspectives of the world behind when I say this. Remember, there is an intense 4000 year old philosophy behind that martial art.

As Dr. Yang might say about the basic concept of Tai Chi, “The Mind can go anywhere in the universe at any time and accomplish anything…” Tai Chi Chuan trains the practitioner to actually manifest that philosophy in the real world.

I know this is sounding like HealingMindN concepts, so I’ll pull out a few notes from Dr. Yang’s lecture on Taijiquan. You will notice that Dr. Yang applies electrical engineering concepts to the body, the same as Nikola Tesla did back in his day (Tesla also worked on all kinds of therapeutic energy medicine devices including the first ozone machine); this makes perfect sense because, in the living body, we have all kinds of tissues that have electrical characteristics of resistance, capacitance, inductance, and beyond depending on the bioenergetic functions that need fulfilling.

Resistance (of the body as during muscular tension) = R

Current flux (of the bioenergy {chi} within the body as controlled by breath) = I

Power (overall expression of speed, strength, bioenergy of the body {jing}) = P

P = I² × R

This equation applies to the human body for all the martial arts. Of course, this is only an analogy, not a detailed study of biophysics, but the concept remains the same. As Dr. Yang would say, “No matter if you start with internal martial arts or external martial arts, we all take these different pathes towards the same goal…”

In the case of Taijiquan, we want to decrease (muscular) resistance, R, of the body while increasing the current flow or chi of the body. Since the focus is on internal energy, we can look at the equation from this POV:

P/R = I²

The less resistance there is in the body, the more power we have by focusing on the chi, or internal energy. This is why Tai Chi Kung and Tai Chi Kung meditation are of vital importance to the martial art.

As you are probably already asking yourself, “why can’t we increase both current and resistance for maximum power?” Once again, this is a different path as that equation applies to other martial arts in different ways.

There are two other roots of internal martial arts that have also branched into different styles in the same fashion as Taijiquan: Baquazhang and Xingiquan.

I cannot express my disappointment enough for the NCCAM site by their neglect of other soft martial art styles; it’s like those restaurants that only serve half a sandwich. “Where’s the other half?”

I have to assume that the MD’s and PhD’s at NCCAM are not THAT interested in oriental sports training. That’s OK. They have a lot on their plates. That’s why I’m here.

Here’s a small treatise to help you understand the difference between these popular internal martial arts:

Tai Chi Chuan: When Jing (power) is emitted for an attack, it’s like a whip. Have you seen those MLB players who throw 100mph fast balls? That’s a whip. They would be totally wicked at Taijiquan. During the real martial art as opposed to the slow moving meditative practice, a Taijiquan practitioner can expect to explode on their opponent in much the same way if not more so.

Hsing Yi Chuan: (translates literally as “mind shape fist”) In the beginning of both attacking and defensive movements, the body remains soft so that Chi can be led to the limbs. the body is then stiffened for an instant upon striking to manifest the Jing, so it’s like rattan: Soft at the beginning, hard at the end. You’ve watched pro tennis, right? The players have to stay loose while dodging and shifting, changing direction at any given moment until they actually hit the ball with everything they’ve got. Pro tennis players would be amazing at Xingiquan.

In the power equation as it applies to Xingiquan:

P = I² × R

We have maximum current (Chi) and maximum resistance (muscular tension) to manifest maximum Jing (power). Xingiquan has branched into the more esoteric styles of kung fu like Dragon Style.

To the novice, it might seem that Xingiquan is the superior form to practice. Not exactly. As Dr. Yang would say, “it all depends on the situation.” Taijiquan has a circular attack approach within short and middle ranges. Xingiquan has a more linear approach most effective within a short fighting range.

Ba Kua Chang: (Eight Diagram Palm) The movements of Baguazhang are not as soft as Taijiquan, yet not as hard as Xingiquan and effective at all ranges. Internal Chi and footwork are the main focus of the training. The Jing. How to explain the Jing of Baguazhang: Have you ever seen professional ballroom dancers like on Dancing with the Stars? Pro ballroom dancers would be phenomenal at Baguazhang because it’s pretty much the ballroom dancing of martial arts which is just as fluid and beautiful.

“Where’s the Jing?” You ask? For those of you who caught the performance with Cheryl Burke and Christian de le Fuente where his bicep got detached, you observed “baguazhang” type manuever of Cheryl Burke expressing her “Jing.” If those same pro ballroom dancers focused their energies along martial aspects, they could easily break arms, legs, and who knows what else on their partners.

You know, that power equation, P = I² × R, is an integral of energy flux or electromotive force with respect to the current. If we go back to the original equation:

(delta) emf = I x R

We see that the “Jing” is expressed through the constant flux of electromotive force. This equation most correctly applies to Baquazhang since the Jing is expressed through complex footwork and consistent circular movements. Now you know how pro ballroom dancers can be dangerous.

Two more points I’d like to cover from that NCCAM paper. I’ll just go ahead and copy it here for your inspection:

Some Points of Controversy

As with other CAM approaches, there are aspects of tai chi on which not everyone agrees. For example:

  • Since little is known scientifically about tai chi, accepting its teachings is a matter of belief or faith rather than evidence-based science.
  • In addition to more traditional styles, some offshoots and blends of tai chi styles have also evolved. There are differences of opinion over which styles represent the “truest” tai chi.

I looked at the rest of the NCCAM site to see what they might be classing Taijiquan with as a belief system. I found 39 references to prayer. I found nothing about law of attraction.

The problem with the western medical perspective of saying that a method is based in belief or faith is that they’re saying the problem never really existed, that it’s psychosomatic, “all in your head.”

This is the regular motis operandi of mechanistic mind patterns: If they don’t get it, and it doesn’t fit into their paradigm of science, then it must be make believe. The problem is that this make believe Taijiquan CAM practice has real results of increasing health. According to the mechanistic mind set, there was never really a physical ailment, that Taijiquan was a great “placebo.”

Do you like that? Those are the kind of attitudes I have to deal with every day.

If you want some hardcore scientific theories to help you understand the workings of internal martial arts, look up precursor engineering on the web. Amazing subject, but difficult to understand, especially for mechanistic mind patterns. You’re an expert in applied physics? Good for you. You should half way understand the subject as long as you don’t cling to Maxwell’s Equations like a baby to his bottle.

As far as “truest” tai chi. I’m not sure what that means. I know Wu Style came first, then Chen, then Yang. I heard that Sun Style is loads a fun because it combines hard and soft styles and I think it’s the newest. But what does “truest” mean?

Think of internal martial arts style like a car. Learning the basic mechanics of driving the car is like learning proper breathing patterns during your exercise. Remember, just because we all have different cars doesn’t mean we all follow different rules. We all have to follow the same rules of the road.

By the same token, your instructor must teach you the “rules of the road” regarding the cultivation of Chi and expressing it as Jing through disciplined practice. Even the hard styles are using the same road, but they’re coming from the other direction by focusing on physical prowness first, then internal energy later. They all follow a true path as long as they include martial morality.

Martial Morality is the intent or “mindfulness” that is trained into the student. (OK, now we’re going back to HealingMindN concepts.) Martial Morality instills purpose and intent in the mind of the practitioner on exactly what he/she wants to accomplish with that art. Those accomplishments must be encompassed by the facets of Morality:

Martial Morality is called Wude. Teachers have long considered Wude to be the most important criterion for judging students, and they have made it the most important part of the training in the traditional Chinese Martial Arts. Wude includes two aspects: Morality of Deed and Morality of Mind. Morality of Deed includes: Humility, Respect, Righteousness, trust, and Loyalty. Morality of Mind consists of: Will, Endurance, Perseverance, Patience, and Courage(Martial Morality, p.9, Ch.1, Baguazhang – Emei Baguazhang, theory and applications, by Liang, Shou-Yu, Yang, Jwing-Ming, Wen-Ching, 1994)

These important human aspects within martial arts practitioners allow them to transcend beyond any emotional difficulties which may serve as a basis for their chronic ailments; it depends on the person. A sickly person tends to lose one or more of these human aspects. The martial arts instructor is there to help you regain what you’ve lost due to sickness and stress related ailments through physical and mental discipline.

The martial arts instructor is there to help you regain any humanity that you may have lost. What could be “truer” than that?

You know a good instructor by observing their own morality. This is your measure of the “truest” form of Taijiquan or any other martial art: The Instructor.

Thanks for your time,

Randolph, HealingMindN Medicine Man

This article has 2 comments

  1. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

  2. Thanks. The more people visit, the more areas I see that captures people’s interest and the more I try to improve in that area. Strangely enough, that post on the North Pacific Trash Gyre is the most famous one.

Verified by MonsterInsights