[I:http://martialarts.surrey-sussex.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/AlCase8.jpg]I love it when people ask which is better, Karate or Tai Chi Chuan, because it is a bogus question. The point I’m offering here is that they are two sides of the same coin. This is one of those things that most people haven’t really figured out.
To define the martial art of Karate one would first say linear, for everyone has the rather erroneous idea that Karate is straight lines. Second, one would say explosiveness, for the violence of Karate explodes outward from the tan tien. And, there isn’t a clearly definable third point to be considered.
To describe the beautiful Tai Chi art one would think circular, for the movements of the art loop and twine like a snake in love with itself. Secondly, one would say slow motion, and here is the first point of contrast to be made. Most people, you see, usually don’t understand what an explosion is.
An explosion is a rushing out of energy in all directions from one central point. The question I pose here is…what is the speed of an explosion? We have set ideas, probably established by the violence we expect from such an event, but the truth is, there is no set speed to define an explosion.
Thus, in TCC there is an explosion, but it is slow, sustained, and controlled. Now, both arts get their power from the explosion. Both have power, you see, but it is in the function where we have the seeming divergence of arts.
Tai Chi accepts the attack, and circles it back into itself, or otherwise handles it. Karate destroys the attack. It may seem rude, but we don’t care about that; we care about the notion that real karate is not sharp angles. Bad Karate is sharp angles, but the real and good stuff is smooth and liquid, and the movements of the body are filled with subtle nuances and circles.
The real problem here is that people tend to set their ideas and not be able to change them as to what a Martial Art is, and they categorize and label, and they usually miss the point. The best martial arts I ever saw was my Korean Karate instructor, who was as liquid as greased oil in a mud pit. He used the explosions and angles like a master of TCC, but in a different method.
The real key here is to define the direction of the attack, and then decide which art is appropriate to your whim and the moment. And, here is something, can you change your Tai Chi Chuan into hard explosiveness? Or, can you change your Karate explosiveness into a harmonious handling of violence?