Drunken Tai Chi

Yesterday in my tai chi class our teacher was telling a story about her teacher who liked to drink wine and was quite the connoisseur. She said he loved to meticulously pore over a wine encyclopedia when he was not needed in class. In fact, she said, he told her there is a martial arts form called drunken tai chi, drunken qigong, drunken boxing, or drunken kung fu. This form, called Zui quan, is actually quite old, first recorded around 621 ce.

Zui quan is based on the knowledge that a drunk person never really gets hurt because their body is so loose. This form of martial art tries to mimic that complete looseness, fluidity, and flexibility. The form is also based on the fact that those who take martial arts very seriously would be very surprised that a drunk would be able to defend himself, so the “inebriated” movements of the form operate as a psychological ruse that works in the “drunk’s” favor. There is lots of feigning of drinking in the movements and the main method, called sloshing, is to move as if the body is hollow and the belly (dan tien) is filled with wine as opposed to chi. There is lots of falling, swaying, and seeming staggering but in actual fact it is in complete balance and control and is said to be one of the most difficult forms to master, which is totally clear in the video above, movements performed by Alex Winn.

So there are no more excuses for not practicing. Especially after imbibing. Lucky for me and for any nearby furniture, I’m a cheap date.

My son just sent me this link to a scene from a Jackie Chan movie, The Legend of the Drunken Master. Jackie Chan made drunken fighting very popular by portraying it as being really drunk.

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