Our Columnist: Joshua Neuhaus
1st Aug 2017
Quote: "Once you begin to practice Taiji, you delve into thousands of years of Chinese history, but rather than being about intellectual understanding, Taijiis about making an experience with your body and mind."
My practice of Taiji began in 2007 in a small school in Berlin. I recently met the editors of Interact KungFu and their open-mindedness inspired me to write a few lines and talk about my thoughts on Taiji. I would like to share two things about Taiji with you: firstly, how this phenomenon encompasses the entire globe, yet bears a profound lesson rooted in traditional Chinese culture and secondly, the way this martial art has enriched my life.
Taiji is deeply rooted within Chinese culture, integrating Philosophical ideas that go as far back as the time of the Warring States in the 5th century BC. At the same time, it formed part of the fundamentals of Chinese scholarship up untilthe 20th century. It is also a vibrant example of Chinese martial arts, resembling other well-known styles of what we know as Gong Fu. Once you begin to practice Taiji, you delve into thousands of years of Chinese history, but rather than being about intellectual understanding, Taijiis about making an experience with your body and mind. This is exactly why it is so versatile and why it works! If you dedicate yourself to work continuously towards the mental and physical concepts that Taijiteaches, you will have a multifaceted understanding of this martial art.
I personally know people from Russia, Iran, Greece, Italy, France, England, Switzerland and all over the southern and northern American continents who made Taiji a part of their lives. This is the dichotomy of Taiji in the modern world. It is accessible to a global audience that has little to no connection to the origins of Taiji or Chinese culture in general. Yet its international practitioners are fascinated by it, going as far as to dedicate their lives to it. Speaking for myself, I can only say that it’s worth it. Embracing the concepts of “not resisting” and “use soft to control hard” is just the beginning of extending the lessons of physical Taiji practice into your daily life. Depending on how much effort you are willing to put into your practice, the results might vary from being fitter to developing a new self-perspective; one vision that Taiji helps you to integrate into your life thus bringing a continuous benefit to happiness and health. The world has started to realize this and that is why Taiji will keep spreading further and further.
But seriously, aside from all those promises that sound too good to be true, there is much more to look forward to. Considering my personal interests and experiences, these are my highlights:
- Finding a great teacher that I learnt to trust completely.
- Becoming absorbed in my practice.
- Traveling around the world meeting people I can immediately connect with through Taiji.
- Holding a sword!
- The partner exercises are great fun!
- Improving through my own effort.
- Falling in love with my practice.
- Finding out how rich Chinese philosophy is.
- Being influenced by Taiji to the point that I chose my major in University to learn more about the culture where it originated.
- Looking forward to all those years of practice that are still to come – after all Taiji doesn’t know a limitation of age.
I started my practice rather young and I believe Taiji was the right choice for me as a kid. I got to practice my coordination, relaxation and patience. Considering my own aversion for violence paired with a fascination for martial arts, Taiji was the place for me to learn that strength is not just muscles. The movements look beautiful, but it has got nothing to do with supernatural spiritualism, it is instead very rational and applicable. Stay open minded and you might find that Taiji is one badass martial art!
Joshua Neuhaus; Chinese Culture Studies at Free University Berlin
Tai Chi Practitioner since 2007
Joshua Neuhaus has been practicing Tai Chi Chuan since 2007. Since then, his teacher has been Johannes Mergner, director of the Yang Chengfu Center Berlin. In 2011, he attended a seminar held by Yang Jun (杨军), 5th generation lineage inheritor of the Yang family, for the first time and has been attending his seminars on a regular basis ever since.
In 2012, he participated in a Tai Chi competition held by the Yang Family Tai Chi Chuan Association as part of a China Tour they organized. As a result, he encountered another fellow Tai Chi practitioner, Eric Madsen, who invited him over to the United States. Fast forwarding to late 2013, he took Madsen up on his offer and stayed with him and his family in Seattle for 6 months. In Seattle, he had the opportunity to attend the school of Yang Laoshi and expand his horizons learning from many skilled practitioners. Back to Germany after this period of intense learning, he returned to his teacher Johannes Mergner. He also had a few opportunities to be a substitute Tai Chi teacher at a sports club in Berlin. Inspired by Tai Chi, he chose to study Chinese culture and language with a minor in Philosophy at Free University Berlin in 2015. He has been accepted for a scholarship to go to study in Hangzhou for one year starting in summer 2017.
Written by Joshua @ InteractChina.com
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