To mention Tai Chi and Krav Maga in one sentence is like mentioning bowling and basketball; yes they are both sports, yes they both involve a ball, but no, they could not be more different.
Or, maybe not?
Today most people think of Tai Chi as a slow moving 'meditation in motion' art that is practiced mostly by people in China or in American old age centers. Often I have heard, "I do karate, my grandmother does Tai Chi at the Center". This was not always the case. Tai Chi was not designed as a health promoting, recreational activity for the sedentary. It was once a formidable fighting art.
Unknown to many, the full name is Tai Chi Chuan, which means, "Grand Ultimate Fist", not exactly a 'peaceful' name, now is it? Fact is; it was anything but peaceful. The original Tai Chi Chuan was used by the most deadly body guards. In fact it was so deadly that only members of the Chen family were allowed to learn it. The secret was carefully guarded.
Over the years it was copied, plagiarized, modified, stylized and sterilized. The Wu style, the Sun style, the Yang style and many variations thereof grew from the original Chen style. Even the slow moving Chen style may appear to the novice as nothing more than healthy 'meditation in motion.'
I had the privilege of attending an original Chen style Tai Chi Chuan class in China town, New York. Closely watching the moves, with the trained eye of a veteran martial artist, I saw the truth. The moves are still there, they are deadly and brutal, powerful, but they are hidden within the flowing dance-like movements. Most of the practitioners themselves, I believe were totally oblivious to what they were actually doing.
The gently flowing moves are in fact blocks, deflections and parries moving in to counter attacks. There are eye gouging, groin shots, crippling knee strikes and brutal take-downs. Those Chen villages knew their business and they knew it well. It was the Krav Maga of their times, and, it can be again.
I hope our Krav Maga remains cutting edge and never becomes the property of those who do it for sport or health. And to those who preserve the original Grand Ultimate Fist – Don't lose it!
Another crucial difference between Tai Chi and Krav Maga is the time element. With Tai Chi you must be patient; like a good soup, it takes time. Over a period of many years you can develop power and technique, but after only a few months in is unlikely you will have any idea how to defend yourself.
In Israel we are still at war. War is all around us and we must all be ready; we are a nation of warriors, civilian/citizen/warriors. You never know when it will be your turn to be a hero. We are also a nation with very little free time on our hands. As such Krav Maga is very suited for our practical needs; easy to learn, easy to apply, easy to remember.