Catholicism and eastern martial arts
(03-06-2015, 10:43 PM)richgr Wrote: I have never learned about the medicinal theories historically associated with Tai Chi, so I couldn't comment there, but I am interested in Tai Chi from the perspective of physiology and physics. See this work:

I'd like to respond to the original poster's questions and concerns.

I agree with Renatus, and on that basis, I also recommend Tai Chi as one of the most excellent and efficient means we have for developing physical self-awareness and sensitivity. The martial form is a factory designed to produce total physical self-awareness as well as awareness of external forces received into the body; then the form equips a person with the most efficient tools to redirect that flow of energy back out (to neutralize it).

The concept of the yin-yang simply points to how energy (chi) flows and aligns with the Western notion of energy, usually expressed kinetically. Tai Chi represents the most fundamental form of internal martial arts; it tries to recreate in the body an actual yin-yang in applied physicality. As such, it is from a philosophical perspective the root of every possible martial art, just as metaphysics studies being insofar as it is being itself and the root of all other sciences.

Some priests caution against Tai Chi or say it is demonic because they incorrectly associate it with other questionable practices, such as forms of Yoga, which *has* led to cases associated with the demonic whether people want to accept that or not. Tai Chi itself is a purely physical process that trains the body to achieve optimal muscular and skeletal health and self-awareness. I myself have never seem much use for stretching, but if you are interested in stretching, Tai Chi requires a good amount of flexibility; I would say a practical amount of flexibility.

The practice of Tai Chi can progress only as a practitioner becomes increasingly aware of and able to differentiate fine motor muscular activity into increasingly smaller and smaller segments. It produces posture as the body should have it and absolutely requires the proper use and movement of the joints in their biologically intended fashion as Western science is amazingly demonstrating. Tai Chi, further, indicates some of the failures of Western science; for example, the unquestioned notion that proper spinal posture requires an s-curve to the degree we normally see in a model skeleton.

As such, Tai Chi forms a beautiful analogy to spiritual advancement, which requires greater discernment and self-understanding of one's interior movements and influences in order to remain faithful to the Lord. Such spiritual discernment leads to greater docility to and cooperation with the movements of the Holy Ghost; just as Tai Chi leads to greater docility and responsiveness to an incoming force while finding a way, not to resist, but to let the energy flow through the body in a way that neutralizes any potential harm.

I only briefly scanned the article that J Michael posted, and while there are some beautiful comparisons to the Christian life contained in it, I do have questions regarding its philosophical and theological precision as the multiple and equivocal use of the same terms, such as spiritual, charity, heart/mind, interior, centeredness, energy, uncreated/infinite, and many other words, suggest a reduction of the supernatural to the natural, which is the normal danger when Eastern thought is engaged from a classical Christian perspective.

Further the notions of contemplation or contemplative practice and prayer are equivocated or at least given no or minimal indication of difference; e.g. the prayer of the heart isn't simply something can "do" right off the bat. Meditative exercises have a heuristic function that lead to progressive docility in the soul's response to the Holy Ghost, which culminate in infused contemplative experiences proper.

Further, meditative exercises must be differentiated between their supernatural and natural content and functioning. Contemplative prayer on the supernatural and natural levels (the latter is only arguably prayer if at all) produce similar if not identical psychological effects in the subject but are not therefore the same, nor does silencing the mind produce supernatural contemplation proper.

The contemplative experiences described in the article seem to be what has been called "philosophical contemplation" or at least a species of it.

Aside from that, I think there's a lot of potential for deepening our understanding of the Christian faith through mystical and analogous comparisons, but as I said, the frequent danger is a lack of distinction and definition. Just because something is mystery doesn't mean we are forced into agnosticism about it; and the spiritual is not something that remains totally undifferentiated, a vast and vague aporia. Differences in the spiritual realm (i.e., non-material) are precisely determined by the being of relation, including the mystery of the Holy Trinity.

The beauty of Tai Chi is its ability to express physical relation in a way so closely analogous to spiritual advancement and the relation of grace between the soul and God.

Just to "Like" this post seemed woefully inadequate, so I had to use some words for reinforcement--Excellent and eloquent post, richgr!!!

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