May 17

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Man of Tai Chi – Part One


Man of Tai Chi

I’ve seen my share of Martial Arts movies and it’s very rare to find one that profiles modern day Tai Chi Chuan. Why? Tai Chi Chuan is not really considered a “martial art” by the masses, but more of a gentle, mindful exercise. Most people who see it practiced by the elderly in a park simply have no idea that the “postures” actually have applied meaning in combat.

And along came Man of Tai Chi.

Tiger Chen, a martial artist, stuntman and actor trained Keanu Reeves in the Matrix Trilogy. The rest is history. Man of Tai Chi is Keanu’s first film as a director and the story was written explicitly for Tiger.

A modern day story of temptation, Man of Tai Chi poses the question, is a good hearted man of tai chi corruptible by money and power?

The answer is of course, yes. The star Tiger Chen, essentially playing himself, is a master of a dying form of tai chi chuan. His skill is exceptional but there is something wrong. He refuses to sit in quiet meditation, despite his master’s insistence.

“I do not need meditation,” he insists. He is wrong.

Why is Tiger wrong? Because at this point in his development his thought process originates from the Ego.

man of tai chi danaka rage of the ego

All urges to attack, dominate, and defend originate from the Ego because the Ego is fearful. Tai Chi has it’s roots steeped in Taoism, Ta Chi Theory, and the I Ching. Basically, the opinion of the Ego and it’s power from the stand point of these philosophy religions (if you want to call them that) is counter to “the Sage”. In comparison to Christianity you could consider the Sage a Christ-type figure and the Divine Spirit to be God or the Holy Ghost. The following is an except from the I Ching as interpreted by Brian Browne Walker explaining Wu Wang the 25th hexagram:

Wu Wang – innocence, the unexpected’
All good comes when we are innocent.

In the very center of each of us there dwells an innocent and divine spirit. If we allow ourselves to be guided by it in every situation, we can never go wrong. Wu Wang comes to remind us that we must actively disengage our egos before we can obtain the vast rewards that come from living in a state of innocence.

The nature of the ego is that when we exercise it, it takes us out of the present. When we engage in ambitions, anxieties, or anticipations, our ego is skipping ahead, and we miss the guidance of the Creative in the present moment. When we engage in anger, judgement, and condemnation – whether toward ourselves or others – our ego is looking backward, and we cannot see the Sage’s clear solution to the present situation. In either case, the result is misfortune.

Only by stilling the ego and accepting life in its entirety can we become innocent. In this state we are receptive to the help of the Higher Power and can meet with good fortune wherever we go.

You are advised now to stop looking forward and backward, to abandon your ambitions, to disengage from judgements and critical thinking. If a thought, attitude, or action is not in accord with the principles of acceptance, equanimity, humility, and gentleness, do not indulge in it. The I Ching encourages you to actively practice innocence. Because the ego is strong, you must make a conscious and conscientious effort to be innocent.

If you willfully unstructure your attitude, open your heart to the Deity, and allow yourself to be guided by that which is innocent and pure, you will meet with success in the coming time.’

The Ego, so cherished by modern western society is considered something that misleads, positioning us in perpetual state of fear. We react to the Ego’s constant fear by becoming defensive, angry, confrontational, anxious, insane.


When Tiger Chen embraces the world of competition his ego is bolstered because he knows how good he is and he wants to show it. This opens the door for the evil Danaka to enter Tiger’s life and immerse him in a world of violence, power and wealth – everything Tiger thinks he wants.

How does Tiger overcome his self-destruction? How does he return to the way of the sage? Through reason. Because of his training he wakes to the insanity of Danaka’s world. He may have wanted power, glory, attention, money, and fame but he didn’t want destruction and death which becomes the inevitable end to his ego-driven path. And his reason must come from clarity through meditation.

Meditation quiets the mind. Stillness connects us to a true reality that defies description. When we practice meditation we come away with a piece of a great peace that continues to reside within us. Our urge to attack and destroy disappears from our mind, disconnecting from the ego-driven to the Universal Mind that is our Oneness.

Meditation is an integral part of tai chi chuan. Mediation quiets the mind. When the mind is quiet…miracles can happen.


In Christianity, Hinduism, Yoga, Transcendental Meditation, Kabbalah, whatever, there you connect with Divinity.

Perhaps it is the moment of clarity, provided my mediation that allows Tiger to overcome his ego-driven self, save his life and find some peace…and of course get the girl. Because after all, he is a Man of Tai Chi.

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