As Tai Chi Chuan is an efficient health restorer, or trains the body to be an explosive Â“weaponÂ” for self-defense, its dynamism could also produce amazing flexibility with ease and harmony with such little effort. Do more for less effort. This is very much in keeping with Tai Chi ChuanÂ’s ancient reputation. As it adage goes, Â“Four ounces can repel a thousand pounds.Â”
A PALATABLE MIXTURE: MARTIAL ARTS AND THEATER ARTS
Perhaps Yang Lu-ch’an, Yang Cheng-fu, and other great masters of fighting arts might turn their tombstones around to see how people are using Tai Chi Chuan of the supreme ultimate fist not as a martial arts but for dancing and stage acting. Mentors have insight-fully seen how Tai Chi Chuan who irrepressible popularity is not merely meant for the parks or competition. Rather its aesthetics is a vital tool as a body toner to ease and project a more expressive movement for dancers and actors.
As Tai Chi Chuan is an efficient health restorer, or trains the body to be an explosive “weapon” for self-defense, its dynamism could also produce amazing flexibility with ease and harmony with such little effort. Do more for less effort. This is very much in keeping with Tai Chi Chuan’s ancient reputation. As it adage goes, “Four ounces can repel a thousand pounds.”
Harmony is the key in many established arts. Harmony not just with its well orchestrated bodily movements but also with ones awareness and will. This extrinsic and intrinsic harmony is like a symphony handed to you on a silver plate once Tai Chi Chuan becomes the baseline of the artist’s training. Why not? For at the very root of Tai Chi Chuan is to move in a relax but attentive manner, to move with light, even, slow, continuous but balanced, versatile, adoptable pliable but natural. Tai Chi Chuan is like a conscious flowing stream of water – alert and reactive. The artists feel what it is like to flow in this stream of water.
Sensitivity is another trait an artist is adamant to have. Sensitivity to the character he is portraying, sensitivity to the co-actors he is reciprocating, sensitivity demands being focused, being calm, “being there”. This presence of one’s being is easily perceivable by the audience. So artists are said to have that very vital stage presence. Sensitivity is inherent for our practicing an internal martial art like Tai Chi Chuan or Pa Kua Chang which requires sticking to enable the anticipation of another person’s movement.
In Taiwan, U Theater and Taiwan’s People’s Culture Workshop utilize the indigenous of Asian movements based on Tai Chi Chuan and Pa Kua Chang for their theater training. On top of the scenic Yang Ming Mountain at the outskirts of Taipei, the U Theater group commences its rehearsals with the practice of Tai Chi Chuan.
The Philippines is not too far behind since we have the Asian Council for People’s Culture under the auspice of Al Santos who has likewise used not only Tai Chi but also Kuntao, Arnis, Pangalay and Kendo for the basic training of the actors. Using martial arts is a complete departure from the usual theater warm-up of using aerobics, jazz or some stretches to flex their bodies before acting.
“It sounds quite far off isn’t it? It’s either a person is doing martial arts or is acting or dancing. But to fuse martial arts and theater is quite unheard of. But the fusion has produced a very palatable combination,” says Al Santos, the director of SOLDIER’S TALE, a play whose study movements are wholly based on the Asian martial arts.
“The use of these Asian martial arts just makes the body postures so appropriate for anybody. The martial arts give the actors the rhythm, good coordination and sense of discipline. With the use of proper breathing techniques, it really helps the cast in their voice projection and eases their movements. You may think that these martial arts are just different but they are both related. They have a common vein which cannot be produced with using some Western movements, like using jazz. Martial arts can really transform and revolutionize the whole theater production. The cast themselves appreciate use of martial arts. It helps them gather energy from within; it strengthens and tones that energy.”
The dynamics of theater is now interwoven with the dynamics of the Tai Chi Circle, flowing, dexterous, complete and balanced. Yang Lu-ch’an and the old masters may just be amused and smilingly return to their resting place. Tai Chi Chuan is continuously making its mark in people’s lives through the centuries.
Concept of A SOLDIER’S TALE
Fifty years after the end of the War, a Soldier finds himself retracing the paths of the battlefield he thought he has long forgotten. Strangely, it is not the echoes of gunfire and bombs exploding, not the deaths, nor the violence of war that haunt him. Rather the feeling of emptiness of having gone through a life-and-death experience that changed the world but serve no meaning to him.
Reconstructing the War as it happened inside his simple heart, the Soldier returns in a world that is half-real and half-illusion. In his journey to the past, he meets his enemies who were once upon a time faceless shadows. The Soldiers then reenact an allegory of War depicting a series of images that mirror the inner conflicts of individuals trapped in a world beyond their control.
A SOLDIER’S TALE pays homage to peace and to the world-wide efforts to end the continuing cycle of war, violence and nuclear proliferation.
Ronthoughts Journal – Internal Martial Arts
Thanks to Marilitz Dizon of RAPID JOURNAL