Can Tai Chi Be Used For Self Defense?

Hey there! Some links on this page are affiliate links which means that, if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I greatly appreciate your support!

Tai Chi is known for its health benefits. It is a form of meditation that is meant for relaxation, better concentration, blood pressure reduction, weight loss, flexibility development, increase in range of motion, and circulation improvement.

Tai Chi’s main goal is to promote wellness.

For this reason, many people are skeptical about the effectiveness of Tai Chi as a martial art that can be used for self-defense purposes. So, Can Tai Chi be used for self defense? Let’s find out together.

Can Tai Chi Be Used for Self Defense?

What is Tai Chi?

Tai Chi’s name means “supreme ultimate fist”, where “fist” refers to the fighting technique of using your hands and fingers as if they were weapons to attack an opponent.

Even though Tai Chi was initially created as a set of fighting techniques, today it is known as a form of exercise that is meant for relaxation and meditation.

Since Tai Chi was designed as a martial art, it follows the same three phases as other Chinese arts such as Kung Fu:

  • Training of the body
  • Training of the mind
  • External applications

Training of the Body

The first phase teaches you how to use your entire body to generate power, whether you are punching or kicking. This training helps strengthen your body and increases both your flexibility and range of motion.

The goal is to improve the overall coordination of the muscles in your entire body so that when you attack an opponent, all of the necessary muscles work together in perfect unison to produce maximum force.

During this phase, the training also includes the development of correct breathing techniques to help you focus your mental energy.

Training of the Mind

The second phase teaches you how to use your mind (aka “shen”) to generate power. It helps develop concentration, coordination, and understanding of movement principles.

Understanding movement principles allows you to move around during combat without thinking too much about it.

During this phase, the training also includes the development of correct breathing techniques to help you focus your mental energy.

External Application 

The third phase focuses on the utilization of Tai Chi principles to gain an advantage in combat. There are no set forms in this phase.

This gives a practitioner the possibility to use any movement that is necessary for survival during combat.

The goal of this phase is to condition the body and mind in such a way that whenever you need to attack or defend yourself, your response will be instinctive and natural.

Also Read:

Is Aikido Good For Self Defense?

Is Judo Good For Self Defense?

Can Tai Chi Be Used for Self Defense?

If you take into account these 3 phases, then it is very clear that Tai Chi incorporates all aspects necessary for fighting. Tai chi treats the body and mind like a living organism that requires training in all areas to produce maximum results.

Training is the keyword here because you cannot expect instantaneous results when it comes to fighting or self-defense. For this reason, we can safely say that Tai Chi provides the necessary tools for developing fighting skills.

But can these skills be used for self-defense purposes?

Of course, they can! Especially since the movements of Tai Chi are aimed towards functionality. It’s normal to think that the movements of Tai Chi are too slow to win any fight. Since many self-defense techniques rely on speed and power, it is only natural that a slow martial art like Tai Chi not be as effective.

However, you can develop a fighting style that would take advantage of Tai Chi skills.

One such example is the Five-Animal Form, which incorporates movements from animals such as Eagle, Lion, Bear, Dragon, and Snake to create a combination of offensive and defensive techniques.

Types of Tai Chi and Fighting Techniques

There are different types of Tai Chi. Some use a “soft” approach to fighting, while others incorporate hard movements as well as the incorporation of powerful attacks and blocks.

For example, there’s Yang style which uses soft movements and Qinggong (light body power) to attack, but also incorporates more powerful techniques such as kicks and breaks.

On the other hand, there’s Sun style Tai Chi which is more aggressive and incorporates hard movements. This style favors fast movements with minimal body motion to generate power.

Other schools incorporate weapons in their styles of fighting, such as the 6-and-a-half point Long Pole form taught by Yang stylists. And if you look at the Taiji Jian (straight sword) form, you will see that it’s not too far from the basics of Wing Chun Kung Fu.

The bottom line is that you can develop a very effective system for combat and self-defense once you understand the concepts behind Tai Chi.

As such, there are no doubts about whether or not Tai Chi is effective for fighting. What’s more important is how well you train your mind and body to implement the principles of this system.

Which Tai Chi Style/Technique is Best for Self Defense?

As we mentioned earlier, Tai chi schools and practitioners usually follow similar training that is divided into three phases.

This means that regardless of the style you choose to practice, you will develop the skills necessary for fighting.

However, since not all styles focus on combat as much as others do (those who incorporate Qinggong, weapons, etc), it will be easier for practitioners of those styles to obtain fight-related benefits.

But this does not mean that one who practices a different style cannot obtain the same skills and abilities as well. The key here is persistence and dedication to your practice.

This means that any style practiced with patience and commitment comes with the ability to turn the practitioner into a formidable martial artist.

Can Tai Chi Be Used For Self Defense? Bottom Line


Tai chi incorporates all aspects necessary for fighting. This means that training in this system equips the practitioner with the skills and abilities necessary to fight and defend oneself in any situation.

But what matters the most when it comes to self-defense purposes is how much time and effort you put into your practice.

As long as you practice with patience and determination, there’s no doubt that you will be able to learn how to defend yourself using the skills and abilities taught in this system.

Leave a Comment