Three months. That’s the time it took me about to learn the 24 forms of Wushu Taichi — and I didn’t even force myself. Obviously, the first thing I learnt from Taichi are these 24 basic forms. There are more to go if I want to become better at it.
At the same time, through this learning, I understood more about Asian culture and about the body and it’s mysterious and complexe functioning. I leanrt more about myself, too.
Taichi actually is a whole lot more holistic than I thought it was. It has links with many different kinds of beliefs and practices. Of course, the “qi” is the most important thing here and this is what makes it so Asian: pronounced “ki” in Japanese, “ji” in Korean or “khi” in Vietnamese, it represents the lifeforce or energy flows.
The practice is primarily a martial art but it has become widely regarded as an alternative medicine, especially against back pain and arthritis. This lifeforce is still is considered to be part of the belief domain but it is undubitable that it prolounges one’s life, or at least keep one’s health in good shape.
It also taught me that perseverance, even as little as a few minutes every day — or just thinking about it and being interested by it — is enough to develop some knowledge and to enjoy it. You don’t have to be a master with 20 years of practice to feel that you’ve become better at it. And this feeling transmits itself to other activities; I’ve realised that it was better to do things in small quantities but regularly than to do them once a month for three hours.
Finally, it opened my mind about the “close mindedness” that some Westerners might have. That’s not because we have very developped laboratories that ancient traditions are worthless. Actually, we should build on the ground of our “rooted nature”, on what our ancestors taught us, rather than forgetting everything. China, with its incredible economic locomotive, should think twice before stepping on its past, or they’ll end up being a powerful country with an empty soul — and what waste it would be, considering their long history.
Well, I might be extrapolating the knowledge I acquired through Taichi a little because I shouldn’t forget I came to Hong Kong and that’s taught me a great deal as well. But I think the insight would’ve been different without Taichi. Maybe less enjoyable. Certainly less deep as well.