Arguments Against Reality: Tai Chi Stereotypes

If you’ve spent much time in the internal martial arts world (or the Chinese martial arts world, or the “Traditional” martial arts world in general)… you might have noticed that many people refuse to relax their grip on heated – and ultimately fruitless – arguments against reality.

Arguments Against Reality: Tai Chi StereotypesArguments Against Reality: Tai Chi Stereotypes

People want things to be a certain way, even when they’re not.

People want to be more powerful, more adept, more skillful, and more privy to secret knowledge than everyone else. Just because you want something, doesn’t mean you have it.

Just because you believe you’re a badass fighter, doesn’t mean you are.

There is no invincible style. Nobody wins them all.

The longer you remain in denial of this simple fact, the more painful this realization will be (if & when it ever occurs), because it will also be a realization that you have been training in a less than ideal way. It will be a realization you have been deluding yourself, imagining you are better than you truly are. You have been training for fantasy, which is always crushed under the overbearing weight of reality.

Since it is so common for tai chi (and traditional martial arts) people to launch into highly repetitive arguments against reality, I wanted to standardize their arguments for us all in an easy to reference list.

This way, instead of wasting your time & energy arguing, you can refer them here by saying something like: “Oh, nice argument Type A.1 … I know where this is going.” Please help me add to this by pointing out any stereotypical arguments I may have missed in the comments. I will consider this a working post, and will continue to add to it for posterity.

The Stereotypical Arguments Against Reality

Type A

The beginning of the end… This is how it all will start, with an unsolicited, nonconstructive criticism:

  1. This is too external
  2. This is using too much strength / too much force
  3. This isn’t real tai chi
  4. This is wrestling
  5. This is sumo
  6. This is kick boxing
  7. Competition isn’t real fighting
  8. Competition is against the Tao
  9. In a real fight with no rules, an MMA fighter who is used to rules and referees could never win.

I’m sure there’s more, please add anything I’ve missed in the comments.

The Ultimate Response

All you ever need to say is this:

“Please provide an example of what you find to be correct.”

Once you have asked for an example (eg – evidence), you’ve opened the door for an array of new arguments! Hooray!

Type B

Here’s what you can expect for the next round:

  1. Link to a compliant demo video
  2. Dodge the question
  3. Change the subject
  4. Answer a question with a question
  5. Make ad hominem attack / insults
  6. “Well you’ve just never felt the real deal.”
  7. Come feel me/my teacher & then you’ll see
    [even if this means paying thousands of dollars out of pocket to travel across the world on the word of some random internet person]
  8. Provide unverified & unverifiable anecdotes
  9. “I’m wasting my breath here, you guys have no idea.”
  10. “I can see no one follows the true path / Tao in here.”
  11. “We can’t train our techniques live, because they are too deadly.”
  12. “Real masters don’t make videos or put them online.”
  13. “All our videos are on VHS, or I’d upload them and show you.”
  14. “There’s never video of real fights in teh streetz.”

Rinse & Repeat!

Most people who start down this path w/ any of the Type A “Arguments Against Reality” are likely to recursively loop back & forth between all the potential comments of both Types A & B.

Please in the comments, also suggest pre-made rebuttals for us all to use in case we find ourselves going down this black hole of an Argument Against Reality.

Or you can just ignore these people. Honestly, I think sometimes it is better to chop off the hand and save the body.

At least I hope this article will save you time when these stereotype arguments rear their ugly heads!

4 comments to Arguments Against Reality: Tai Chi Stereotypes

  • I could give you all the right answers but if I did….I would have to kill you. HA HA So funny

  • sounds like “Heaven, Man, and Earth” cult out in Thailand.

  • Unknowable

    Sounds to me like ego stroking all around. Either of one’s own ego or of that of another.
    Try to get people of this variety to discuss the best ways of avoiding physical violence, If they don’t want to hear it, or expound on the virtues of this or that as a method of “justified” violence, attempt to redirect their focus back to verbal techniques for resolving conflict. If, as I suspect is the case with some of these folks, they continue on with the ‘what if’ or absolute worst case in a back alley with Col. Mustard and the candle stick etc. it may be better to just thank them for their valued opinions, advise them to stay away from people claiming to be characters from Clue, AND dark back alleys, and leave them to their own devices.
    And since you mentioned the Tao above I think that I should also point out that people with these opinions represent one extreme (the extreme yang) of a rather large opinion spectrum, it just happens that they occupy the more boisterous end as well. Rest easy knowing that; as Yang reaches its absolute, Yin is beginning its ascent. As practitioners of Taijijquan we are seeking balance. In our selves as much as within the universe. In short counter, or complement their yang with a position of yin.

  • Well said. The problem with talking about taijiquan as a martial art is that we have absolutely no idea what it looked liked during the Qing Dynasty or earlier. Still photos and obscure writings tell us nothing. It is safe to speculate that what we call taijiquan today is not remotely close to the “internal” martial art practiced 125 years ago, or sooner. Did they even call it taijiquan back then? Any answer to that question will be difficult to document.

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