​​​The Office of Dr. John Aguilar, Jr.

Taiji Basics

​Tàijí, ultimately, is about the highest attainment possible for human beings:

  • 太 tài/t'ai = "great" ("Tài" is the Pīnyīn 拼音 romanization of 太, "t'ai" Wade-Giles.) 
  • 極/极 jí/chi = "extreme" (極 is the traditional form of the character, 极 simplified.) 
  • 拳 quán/ch'uan = "martial art"

Mirroring my practice well, it is about the ultimate capabilities of a person.

You do not go to a Tàijí class for a quick-fix, "feel good" adrenaline rush (though you will likely leave feeling good.) Tàijí is about truly good exercise. As this differs from most of what is popular in the West, right now, I tend to call this type of exercise "therapeutic" (as all exercise should be, but is all too often the exact opposite, causing minor damage with each session and an all-too-high risk of serious injury.)

Tàijí as an exercise invovles many subtlies, subtle movements and subtle shifts in awareness. For instance, we begin practice by simply standing, and we'll spend hours simply walking.

Why? Because Tàijí is about ultimate health, and this requires undoing much of what has been done, unlearning damaging habits and behaviors, deprogramming a hundred things that you have learned consciously and unconsciously.

We engage these primarily through physical movement and active awareness. We start with basics, such as standing and walking, and learn how to do them as we were desgined. Tàijí is about ultimate health because that potential is written in our blueprints. We simply have to act according to that inner design. Most of us have been living a life in conflict with that potential - we should eat breakfast, but don't; we should exercise daily, but we don't; we should love our work, but it is too often a major cause of stress. Tàijí is great because it undoes all that damage to reconnect you with that inner potential. It undoes many of the knots and stains of past behaviors and re-trains you through connecting with your real possibility.

Physically we work to re-learn how our bodies move and function. Cognitively, we start the process that will ultimately carry us away from all suffering - paying attention. Of course, it sounds dubiously simple. Tàijí is about the ultimate - inevitably, it's the secret hidden in plain sight.

Before you miss this secret in plain sight, pay closer attention. How strong is your ability to pay attention? How long can you focus on something without being distracted or slipping into mental oblivion? And how often do you practice?

It is intersting that with such profound potential, most human beings operate the vehicle of their life without paying much attention to the road (then we are suprised when we crash.) Most of our cognitive resources are spent in erratic bouts of attention to an ever rotating assortment of shiny things.

And too often we are simply figuratively asleep behind the wheel. Life happens, and we barely notice, as if from a distance or through hazy curtains.

The truth is, this is not our fault, really. It is simply human nature. We disconnect from that inner potential, seek joy and happiness in the infinite things outside our selves, causing damamge the whole way through neglect and outright harm... until we wake up to what's going on, stop, look around, turn around, and work back up the path to wholeness.

This is Tàijí. We begin simple by engaging the complex - all the issues we've absorbed into our being. We take steps, literally and figureatvely, undo what we've done and return to our rightful place of supreme, ultimate greatness.