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Editor's Notes:  What is Taijiquan, Anyway?

Volume 1 Number 1
Spring 2000

Pity the poor library catalogers. Classifying unruly topics is their trade, but some things simply elude clear categorization. The Yijing, the Chinese Book of Changes, for example. Is it a book of philosophy or fortune-telling? Is it a classic of literature, or a historical artifact? And what should they do with books and such on Taijiquan. Should these be part of a library's sports collection? Or do they belong with material on Chinese philosophy, or with health and medicine? On which shelves would a magazine such as Taijiquan Journal best fit?

At the core of this discussion is how we Taijiquan players define ourselves, and how we describe Taijiquan to others. We as insiders know that Taijiquan is an eclectic mixed bag, and that there are as many reasons for practicing Taijiquan as there are practitioners. Ask yourself and your classmates. Do you go to class to work out, to socialize, to play, or to spar? Are you seekers of the Dao, or warriors-in-training? Is Taijiquan a form of physical therapy for any of you? Or is it that it's a Chinese art? Perhaps you're intrigued with it as a longevity discipline, or a tool for emotional growth. Maybe for some of you it's a natural substitute for blood-pressure medication.

Since its earliest years, the Chinese martial arts have been practiced and viewed as disparately as dance and defense, for kindness and for killing, or for meditation and self-mastery. In the case of Taijiquan, there is clear evidence of these multiple approaches from two centuries ago in the Taijiquan Classics: one poem in the Classics insists that Taijiquan is for creating long life and yet, on the next page, another text vividly depicts an agile old man fending off a gang of young ruffians. And quite typical of Taijiquan, both approaches can reside in one person.

There is no single answer to what Taijiquan is, why it is practiced or, for that matter, where its literature should be shelved. We hope that in Taijiquan Journal you will enjoy reading about not only what has brought you to Taijiquan, but also what others find intriguing about this wonderfully multi-dimensional art. We hope you will find a shelf to keep us on, and enjoy many hours of reading!

Barbara Davis, Editor

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Taijiquan Journal (T'ai Chi Ch'uan Journal)