A question on a martial arts forum asked how do you make the way you fight look like the style you are studying. That’s an interesting question. What does a pure taijiquan guy, or a karate guy, or whatever, really supposed look like in a fight?
A martial art is based on a philosophy, has principles derived from that philosophy, and a training method which is meant to imprint those principles into your body. What we tend to think of as a martial art is really it’s associated training method.
Fighting is fighting. You’ll fight the way you are trained. To the extent that the training method has had an impact on us, how we fight will be influenced by our training method.
In the larger sense of how we live our lives, if we really want to live up to some of the hype of the benefits that taijiquan (or karate or zen; you name it) is suppose to bring to us, we have to open minded and let the training method mold us.
Without any gaps, water fits the container into which it was poured.
I once read an interview with a martial arts master. In the interview he said that before studying the martial art he had mastered, he had trained diligently in something else. When he took up his current martial art, his teacher had him do nothing but the standing exercise for several years, to “erase” the previous martial art from his body, while still doing something that would help him make progress in his new study.
When I was young, I trained very intensely in aikido for a number of years. For the last six months or so, I have been studying taijiquan. If someone were to take a poke at me right now, how I respond would probably be a lot more like aikido (having left a strong imprint on me) than taijiquan.
With my new study with the taijiquan people, I have been scrupulous about doing things “their way.” I have not retained any martial arts practice I’ve learned from any other source, in an effort to allow taijiquan to leave an imprint on me.
In years to come, if I continue to apply myself, my response will gradually resemble aikido less and less; and taijiquan more and more. This is the outcome I am working towards.