Anyone can shoot a video and post it on platforms like You Tube. This is great. You will see some amazing Taiji videos on You Tube, but most of what I see purporting to be about Taiji on You Tube is not good, especially when it comes to Taiji’s martial applications.
Occasionally you will see videos of someone who identifies himself as a Taijiquan practitioner attempting to engage in sport fighting. It usually turns out badly for the “Taijiquan” person. Commenters will say that pushing hands training doesn’t prepare one for sport fighting. That’s true. If you are going to sport fight, you must train to deal with speed and aggression. Others with comment that the outcome proves Taijiquan is not a martial art.
But the problem of Taijiquan performing poorly in sport fighting is more than just a likely lack of training to deal with speed and aggression. Taijiquan relies on the development of listening and understanding skills and on the application of four key principles: attach, adhere, connect, and follow. This is all explained in Taijiquan’s classical literature. The failure to take time to acquire those skills and learn to apply those principles—and sometimes a complete lack of awareness of those skills and principles—probably explains why so much of what we see about Taijiquan on You Tube is not good.
Another problem occurs in sport fighting where gloves or hand padding are used. Is it possible to attach, adhere, connect, and follow when your hands are covered in padding?
Yet another problem is ethics. Whatever you think about the ethics of sport fighting, many of Taijiquan’s techniques are clearly far beyond what any sane person would accept in sport fighting. There are the joint destruction techniques of Qin Na applied with Fa jin. Then there are the cavity press techniques. Even the “mild” techniques such as plucking the opponent’s wrist and gauging the Neiguan are not ethical to use in sport fighting. Moreover, and this is probably fortunate, those techniques would be very difficult to employ with padded hands.
Finally, there is, I think, an ultimate obstacle to applying Taijiquan to sport fighting. Learning to apply the principles of connect and follow requires the Taijiquan practitioner to learn to give up ego. Maybe I misjudge, but I don’t think that people who step into the sport fighting ring have learned to give up ego.