Tai Chi and Aikido – Some thoughts
Although Tai Chi is a chinese martial art, it shares many concepts similar to Aikido. Both arts can be said to be internal martial arts focusing on the cultivation of Ki (Chi as it is known in the Chinese tradition). While Tai Chi is predominantly a solo art form, aikido training is done mostly in pairs. Some people consider them to be very similar at the highest level, however the journey there is a bit different.
Tai Chi practitioners spend most of their time focusing on posture through the practise of forms, learning to walk and attention to breathing and relaxation. Aikido on the other hand uses attacks from a partner to learn calmness under motion and the intensity of physical attack. From this practice the Aikido student learns the secret of internal power. Both arts use the practise of weapons forms to further develop their understanding of movement and calmness. Aikido also offers the use of ki to heal and I believe this is explored in some of the Chinese arts as well.
Aikido practises a number of blending exercises to learn to understand how to move and respond to applied energy, this is similar to exercises like ‘push hands’ often practised in Tai Chi. Although many people associate Tai Chi with old people moving slowly in a park in the early morning, Tai Chi is also a serious martial art that takes many years to master. So too Aikido has a long road to mastery. Key differences in the practice if you’re thinking of doing Aikido: we do a lot of tumbling. Tumbling or ukemi is the art of receiving a technique without injury, this enables us to practise Aikido technique without injury to our partner because they take ukemi.