Tai Chi And Wrestling – What’s The Difference ?

Tai Chi and wrestling have got quite a lot in common they are both used as a martial art that was designed to neutralize punches and kicks, if a good wrestler can get into their favoured position it makes life very uncomfortable for a fighter that relies on just strikes alone, from watching the way that wrestlers close the gap and the way that Tai Chi uses a training form called push hands, in both of these arts the aim is to make contact with your opponent by getting your arms to intertwine with theirs

Chen style push hands

as you can see from this video the aim is to get a position of advantage and to stand firm but be flexible and responsive to the push or attempt to up root. All the various styles of Tai Chi use push hands to one degree or another but the aim in each is the same, to gain position and to establish good balance. The training helps to improve sensitivity to force that is applied to you, when you feel a push the aim is to not over react to it but to accept what is happening and deal with it in a measured way.

Wrestling has it’s own form of push hands, in this video are examples of freestyle wrestling in it you can see that there are many similarities to Tai Chi push hands, the names of the arts may be different but the  actions are almost identical. This form of wrestling is the ancestor of a style of wrestling that was common for a time in the UK it was called catch as catch can, the aim of this wrestling was to get a pin hold on your opponent this meant putting your opponent on their backs and holding them there for a while. It is easy to see the connection to wrestling and Tai Chi. If there were any doubt that Ta iChi is a martial art then  looking at these two at forms side by side should convince you. I think what has happened to Tai Chi is that it started out as a combative rt and was later high jacked by people wishing to turn it into a high art meaning that it was just for show and not for effect, I am not saying that Tai Chi is not of any use anymore, I just think that the emphasis has changed, I personally believe that some people wanted to study a martial art but didn’t want to do the martial and only wanted the art. I think that the Chinese government may have had something to do with this influence.

Freestyle Wrestling


According to Wang Xiang Zhai master of I Chuan

“Whether one knows of the history of boxing or not does not matter at all, one should only see whether there is any value in regard to learning and whether it accords with the requirements of life. But speaking of the combat science of our nation, it has a centuries-old history. It began revealing its brilliance in the Warring States Period (403 BC – 221 BC), and gradually advanced and evolved. During the times of the Tang and Song dynasties, boxing started to turn into technical skills and different styles started to evolve. During the Yuan, Ming, and early Qing dynasties, the different schools were most popular. There were very many practitioners, and only because their strength, skill, and attainments were different and some being wise and others stupid, boxing broke into different schools, each claiming its teachings as correct. The emperors feared that the martial arts would be used against the government, therefore they wanted to destroy them for good and so that they could never recover. Therefore they started to influence the people to think highly of the civil arts and look down upon everything martial. On one hand they advocated flying immortal swordsmen and taught the mystical on purpose, on the other hand they praised the boxing forms and fixed techniques in order to lead the martial arts astray. “

From what he has said it is easy to see why Tai Chi is no longer the martial art that it once was it is called “The supreme ultimate fist” but it is because of the reintroduction of mixed martial arts that we now have a chance to practice and develop arts that work in real situations, Tai Chi it would seem has become an art that works well when you both have  set plan of what is and is not allowed, the roots of Tai Chi can be traced back to a time when it was neede as a form of self defense and not just a form of self discovery. Some masters of Tai Chi are trying to show that there is still some martial benefit to modern Tai Chi, an example of this is shown here by Master Wang Zhanhai

Here we can see that he is resisting a Judo practitioner, if you look closely he is not using the push hands that are used in most Tai Chi classes he is doing what freestyle wrestlers use and this again proves that these arts come from the same root, it also shows that the only techniques are the ones that work and not the ones that we think should work.