Tai Chi for Self Defense?

I often get asked if there is really such a thing as Tai Chi for self defense?

How can Tai Chi be for self defense?

After all the moves are performed slowly and smoothly and big.

What are the biggest threats?

Heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, strokes etc are the leading causes of death for most people.

What is the root cause of most of these problems?

Of course the answer is stress.

Diet is also a large factor in the fight for good health.

Before I lose you as a reader, I am also going to talk about Tai Chi for physical self defense so please bear with me.

It’s not as hard as you think.

Granted it takes awhile for the average person to really learn how to defend themselves with Tai Chi.

Although it is relatively easy to take individual Tai Chi moves and use them for self defense, it does require a knowledgeable instructor.

Most of the physical self defense in Tai Chi is not designed to be learned today and used today.

Getting better with age.

However, consider the idea that Tai Chi is designed to be used by an older person who has outlived any ability to fight in a UFC type of event and who is to old to ever want to or need to basically box with someone because it would typically put their physical health at risk.

Now, lets say that the this older person I have been writing about is attacked in the street.

How do they defend themselves?

It is a harsh reality when you are old enough that physically defending yourself even successfully could possibly end your life due to the stress and strain on your system.

Tai Chi has an answer to this dilemma.

First of all the art is designed to teach you how to move efficiently and softly in a way so that force can not find a place in you to hurt.

Proper Tai Chi practice teaches how to deflect force by the way you move and how sensitive you become to contact and your surroundings.

You literally learn to relax enough so that force passes through you and exits as opposed to finding a place inside of you to take hold.

To sign up for the Tai Chi Fighting Workshop 2020 CLICK HERE

Fight better with breath.

Holding your breath can also cause you to freeze when you really need to move and can also cause undue tension that will cause and help external force and trauma to harm you.

Tai Chi helps you learn to breathe.

For more on training and using breath for self defense check out Combat Tai Chi Vol. 17: Combat Breathing.

Drunken style for old people.

Tai Chi emphasizes continuous internal and external movement and relaxing and breathing even while under stress.

Of course push hands practice really helps with this and the push hands can be practiced at your level of ability with no impact and without undue force as you learn to dispel greater and greater force.

Using the analogy (and reality) that the drunk is the one who survives the car wreck, Tai Chi is like drunken style for old people.

For more on training and using relaxation for self defense check out the Practical Guide to Internal Power:

Pinpoint Power

When you properly learn Tai Chi you are taught how to find the weakest point on and in an opponent and you are taught how to touch with your entire body weight.

So, imagine if you can sense on your attacker a misaligned vertebrae on the spine that is not meant to take more than 25 pounds of force on a good day and you touch them sending all of your 150 pounds of body weight into it while you flow in a way that makes it so that they can not impact you in any harmful way.

This is the skill that serious Tai Chi practitioners seek to cultivate.

Can Tai Chi be used for self defense?


And it doesn’t take as long as you think.

The really neat thing is that it can be learned reasonably quickly within a few short years and does not require the 20 – 30 years that most people think it takes.

In the meanwhile you are learning an effective art that will help stave off the real lethal killers we all face in the way of deadly stress and disease.

If you want to get a head start on these skills you need to fight with Tai Chi, check out our Practical Guide to Internal Power:


  1. Dan Eidson says

    This article is encouraging to some who think it takes a very
    long time to develop the kind of power Tai Chi can transmit.
    “The energy which Tai Chi develops is both fine and strong
    and can destroy even an Iron Man. Of what concern, then, are
    opponents made of mere flesh and blood.”
    –Yang Family Secret Transmissions
    Compiled and Translated by Douglas Wile

    • Im a 51yo man who is around 3 stone overweight and i have just been put on tabs for high cholestoral! ergo need something like tai chi for health reasons! But my question is can i learn tai chi as a self defence martial art? and if so is there any schools in the uk that teach it as such though it would have to be in Greater Manchester!! I think im a bit old now to be thinking about hung gar or wing chun or any other of the harder forms of martial arts now! Hope you can help….many thanks

      • Yes you can learn Tai Chi as a self defense art.

        I’m not familiar with the schools in that part of the world. So I can’t recommend a specific one.

        I recommend you visit every single one in the area and then stick with the ones you like best.

        …and then supplement that training with some of our Combat Tai Chi DVDs as needed.

  2. Trevor Bunner says

    Thanks, you have inspired me to learn Tai Chi and use it to my advantage of self defense and agility.

  3. iam here for a good reason,i need to learn to destress in a positive way and tai chi is one way ,i also need to learn the moves for self defense..i suffered a heart attack
    one month ago and i am reaching out to learn abetter way.not only for self but others.young old women children men..but all.i think its time to learn the system of tai chi.thank you.

  4. Jon driscoll says

    Thank you for this article.I have decided to take Tai-Chi lessons,and look forward to the MANY benefits explained here…I am begining at the age of 61…

  5. Peter McCabe says

    This was really helpful. I am a Martial Artist and an aspiring novelist. I wanted to know if Tai Chi would be a practical form of defense as the book I am writing has the character using Tai Chi among other Arts to help him fight. I am also very interested in learning the Art so this motivated me even more! 🙂

  6. hi, i am a underweight female… just moving into my adult life …. I’ve always wanted to learn a form of self defense plus something that would calm my mind …. I’m always in a mood to beat someone up ….
    considering everything, i found out about tai-chi … but my question is … do all martial arts training center’s teach you how to actually protect yourself using tai-chi or do they teach it like a form of yoga… and also , will tai-chi help me build up a normal physique ?
    thankyou .

    • Unfortunately very few Tai Chi teachers out there teach the martial side of Tai Chi. If you cant find anyone good in your area you can use our combat Tai Chi DVDs to supplement whatever live training you can find. Tai Chi will add some density and strength to your physique if it’s trained properly.

  7. john deay says

    i am 67 and was a prof. drummer for a lot of years but didnt keep that fit due to my busy schedule . I did a lot of weight training when i was younger and have recently started swimming again. I live alone and was assaulted at my own front door at xmas. I think if i was more aware of what was happening i could defend or protect myself better . I dont want to be as they say a hard nut just to try and and be able to defend myself . can you advise me . I live in Darvel east ayrshire Scotland . Is there anyone locally you can put me onto that could help . Thanks Jay

    • Matt Holker says

      We don’t have any certified instructors near you (yet), but we do have a comprehensive long-distance learning program for people like you. If you’re aim is to learn Tai Chi for self defense, I recommend the Formless Fighting course. You can get the DVDs anytime, but we only accept new students into the full online program in the fall. Usually we do this in November. You can check out the details here: http://www.clearmartialarts.com/formless-fighting-tai-chi/

      If you are going to wait until November to sign up for that, you will probably want to put in some work in the meantime. We have an extensive Tai Chi training course available through Clear Tai Chi Online. Although it focuses less on the self defense aspects of Tai Chi, there is plenty of material there to get you started. That will give you a good leg up by the time November comes around. Go to: http://www.clearmartialarts.com/clears-tai-chi-online/

Speak Your Mind