Studying Tai Chi as a Martial Art Form
When a lot of people think of tai chi, they think of it as a slow moving exercise done for relaxation or as a sort of moving meditation. Though it is being taught for those uses, it is really a conventional form of martial art. The first name of the art, Tai Chi Chuan, could be translated as "supreme ultimate fist." The name suggests that Tai Chi was at first intended to be a martial art and not an exercise for seniors.
One reason that individuals don't think of tai chi as a martial art is because it's extremely slow moving. Other martial arts such as kung fu and karate have quick and powerful movements. In tai chi, each movement looks like it's carried out in slow motion. It doesn't mean, though, that the same movements cannot also be executed fast. But by performing it slowly, you must be more controlled in your movements thus being more accurate. To truly learn how to apply tai chi as a martial art style, you'd have to practice it at different speeds, but moving gradually gives you greater coordination and balance.
China Pushed The Boundaries Of Martial Arts
Push hands is one of the standard tai chi techniques. With this practice, two individuals push against one another to try to get the other person off balance. You will find tournaments where this is practiced, much like sparring tournaments in karate. The idea with tai chi push hands is to use as little force as is possible. By using the weight and strength of the opposition and not yourself, you try to take them off balance. This usually takes a great deal of practice, naturally, but a master at tai chi push hands can be a powerful martial artist. If you want to learn this technique, you must find a qualified instructor or a tai chi school that teaches it. Just carrying out tai chi form won't be enough to make you adept in martial arts.
You will need to find a martial art school or instructor that is experienced with tai chi as a martial art form. Although practicing the tai chi form that is usually taught is excellent for your health, and may help you to reduce stress, it will only give you some very basic martial arts training. You'll develop balance and flexibility by learning the form but you won't know how to apply it in a real situation if you were required to. If the area that you live in doesn't offer any classes for tai chi as a martial art, then you may possibly be able to find instruction online or invest in videos or books on the subject.
Karate is thought to be an external martial art but tai chi is recognized as an internal martial art form. Aside from push hands, practitioners of tai chi also make use of swords and other standard Chinese weapons. Tai chi is a good form of exercise but it is also a fantastic form of martial art.