Tai Chi Quan (Tai Chi) is represented through steps by the coordinated actions of the body’s extremities, of the body as a whole including the eyes. The breathing is also coordinated. Thusly, Tai Chi is a complete system of exercises characterized by the unity and by the cultivation of the internal and external application of power. A very old system, widely known for its healthy and relaxation methods but rarely considered a martial art.
The term Tai Chi Quan translates as “supreme ultimate fist, boundless fist, great extremes boxing or simply the ultimate.” Tai Chi theory is deep and profound. It takes many years of practice, learning, research and pondering to gradually grasp the esence to the art. It is said that Tai Chi Quan was created by San Feng Chang in the Song Hui Zong era (1.082 – 1.135) although techniques and forms with the same basic principles were already in existence almost 600 years earlier that were created from previous one taught in Han Dynasty (206 BE – AE 220). The content of the art has varied from one generation to the next. What we see today in the forms of Tai Chi has been evolving for more than eight hundred years. Various versions of Tai Chi are still practiced around the world: bare hand, sword, saber, spear, stick, ball or ruler. Some are slowly disappearing for there are very few masters around to teach.
The first step into the Tai Chi world is usually done by learning and understanding the basic theory, fundamentals, and principles. Posture and fundamental leg and hand movements are to be cultured. What follows is the study of the solo sequence which takes from about six months up to three years’ time. Most students stay and practice it on this stage and give them sufficient enjoyment. To go further the next step to learn is calmness and relaxation and how to internalize the proper coordination of the breathing. This also takes up to three years each. Only after all this has been learned a person should start to investigate and discuss the martial art application of the postures. Until this moment Tai Chi is done in a very slow and soft mode. With incorporation of martial art substance we begin to practice the speeding up of the solo sequence and giving the movements the power (ying).
The best to learn so-called internal martial arts aspects in practice is pushing hands (‘tuishou’). Based on using opponent’s energy, it helps to develop the endurance needed in a contest. It teaches how to correctly respond to the external stimuli and thusly diminishing our natural instinct of resisting force with force. Tuishou will train one’s body to yield to the force and redirect it. After a while, a person reacts spontaneously.
And where is a connection between Tai Chi and Leadership?
The same characteristics that were described above are true for leading a team. If the leader is too aggressive, subordinate members will adapt as in a China proverb: “The grass abates in the direction from which the wind blows!” If a leader is too soft, subordinates do not take him seriously. A wise leader is aware that too much interference hinders the work process of a team. A prudent leader is calm and collected and leads by example. Therefore, good leader knows that any overexertion is harmful and it represents a physical and intellectual hindrance. When things are done effortlessly, it leaves the impression of everything running smoothly and harmoniously, there is no stopping, no fuss, no dissatisfaction, and most importantly, all is achieved without resorting to giving orders or spending time on extensive persuasion. Good leadership embraces people’s interests, knowledge and their abilities. Good leader is like water, one drop is not destructive, but slowly and gradually employs one’s energy to melt and steer.