A karateka friend of mine, knowing that I am a tai chi chuan practitioner, asked if I was able to use my chi or jin to propel people metres away from me with effortless ease. The question was as a result of him seeing this somewhat incredible feat demonstrated on YouTube videos. I too have witnessed these seemingly fantastic demonstrations on YouTube on videos posted by quite a few individuals. I find that these individuals who profess to having the ability to effortlessly manipulate the movements of others with relative ease are truly endowed with the gift of the garb and they would have to be if they are to convince us of their ability. They appear to be extremely knowledgeable in the theory of tai chi chuan. Their knowledge of the tai chi classics and also their understanding of the Chinese language. After all, they would need to be in order to convince us of the authenticity of their claims.

I first became aware of this tai chi phenomenon, yes, I did say phenomenon, when I came upon footage of the late Wu style tai chi practitioner, Mr. Ma Yueh Liang. At the tender age of ninety-two, he would with a slight gesture of his hand, cause his push hand partner to involuntarily start hopping or bouncing away from him. Sometimes, by merely gently moving his arm to the left or to the right, his partner would be moved in the intended direction as if being pulled along by an invisible hand. I was to witness on another occasion, when Mr. Ma was nearing his mid-nineties and having to be supported while walking and barely able to stand independently, sending far younger people than himself almost flying away from him as a result of the most minuteness movement of his arm. There were times where he did not even move but his opponent went flying away and crashing into the applauding spectators. Ever since my first viewing of Mr. Ma’s demonstration of these incredible feats of tai chi mastery, I have come to notice a proliferation of similar claims within the tai chi community of individuals who have ascended to the most exalted level of tai chi chuan.

I do find it very telling that very few, if any who attend the courses and workshops of these highly gifted individuals, don’t appear themselves to begin in the slightest to acquire any of these abilities. Myself, I am indeed curious as to what the benefits are in acquiring these skills, apart from being able to conduct seminars thereby gaining huge financial rewards. Would one seriously wish to devote meaningful time to what I would describe as mere party tricks? It appears to be quite a human frailty in seeking a simple route to acquiring skill in any meaningful pursuit thus rendering us gullible at times. In a video clip I saw of one of these masters, if I may label them as such, explaining to his audience the eight powers/methods of utilising force in tai chi chuan, he describes peng as a quality. I myself have always understood peng to be an upward directed force. However, as I do not speak the Chinese language, I can perhaps concede that I may be at fault here. That being the case, my teacher who did indeed speak Chinese and has written extensively on the eight major methods of using force in tai chi chuan, would also have to be wrong. I concede that there may well be individuals who are in possession of incredible abilities, but if they do exist, I believe them to be few and far between. I do also urge students of tai chi chuan to honestly ask themselves what it is that they are hoping to gain from the practice of the art and why they took it up in the first place.

Consequently, my answer to the question was an emphatic no, I do not have the ability to do anything of that magnitude.