Tai Chi Tipping Point: Will Tai Chi Go Viral?

by Tai Chi Master Bruce Frantzis

tipdog

Budda Dog (Photo by: Superfantastic)

Is the Tai Chi tipping point on the horizon or not?

Everybody who has been involved in tai chi in the West for the past 10-15 years has known that tai chi is probably going to reach a tipping point were it really reaches the masses; where tai chi really becomes known to the public rather than being some strange exercise that hippies practice.

The simple fact still remains most of the public know little of the tremendous benefits of tai chi, how tai chi works or how to learn tai chi. Lets connect Malcolm Gladwell, Swami Vichinanda,Jane Fonda and Bruce Lee with the Tai Chi Tipping Point…

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, he describes the “three rules of epidemics” to determine the conditions for something to go viral. What needs to happen for tai chi to meet these three rules and spread like crazy? And can we learn anything from the popularity of yoga in relation to tai chi?

Thetippingpoint_taichitippingpoint

Tai Chi Compared to Yoga

Yoga had been around in the West for over 115 years where, in contrast, tai chi has been around for less than half that time or about 40 years.

A little known fact is that the West’s awareness of yoga is generally considered to have been brought over by Swami Vichinanda in 1893 at the Parliament of World’s Religions. Yoga’s growth path was unremarkable for most of those years, until about 1980. So what caused yoga to take off in the 1980’s?

Well one reason is that some celebrities started promoting it. One of the foremost was Jane Fonda, who is also considered to have founded the aerobics movement. She is a Hollywood star and clearly one of the sex symbols of her generation. So when she started practicing and promoting yoga many women got on board or more literally on the mat.

It is no great surprise that Yoga exploded in part because of Hollywood publicity as many trends are created there.

The Three Rules of Epidemics

In The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell says that there are Three Rules of Epidemics. Here is a short summary of the three rules:

  1. “The Law of the Few”—Gladwell states: “The success of any kind of social epidemic is heavily dependent on the involvement of people with a particular and rare set of social gifts.” He goes on to talk about three types of people. Connectors link people up together. These people have massive social networks. Mavens are people who connect us with new information. Finally there are Salespeople who are good at persuading us to try or buy.
  2. The Stickiness Factor—Stickiness is related to how a message is remembered and passed on. How much does something become the “topic of the day”?
  3. The Power of Context—Context is an important area taking into consideration the environment and conditions that would need to be present for a trend to go viral, such as demographics and value systems.

If we look the promotion of Yoga by Jane Fonda, we could say that she is a connector, a maven and a saleswoman all in one.  In the early 1980’s one of the big new inventions was the VCR, which dramatically helped the trend to become “sticky.” Finally, the population demographics of the baby boomer generation fit the slot where yoga and aerobics would be appealing. So we could say that yoga definitely meet all of Gladwell’s rules.

Who Does Tai Chi in China?

If we look at tai chi in China, 50 percent of all people who practice tai chi are over the age of 50. Tai chi is known for incredibly regenerating people’s bodies—making them healthy—and being one of the best longevity anti-aging programs (see my book Tai Chi: Health for Life).

Tai chi is the only non-impact exercise in the world that has a dramatic track record for reversing the aging process. Nothing else has the track record of tai chi. But still, up until the 1960’s when tai chi came to the United States, tai chi was an odd “thing” out there.

Some think tai chi is just a martial art, which is just not the truth. Others will say tai chi is a dance, and of course that is not the truth either.

What can be said in the current times is that most people associate tai chi with being somewhat good for your health. It is also becoming more well-known that tai chi is also good for all kinds of illnesses, including diabetes, arthritis and fall prevention.

However, what has been missing in the tai chi tipping point equation in terms of context in the West is very simple: The baby boomer generation population in America and Europe is only now starting to reach an age where tai chi has real appeal. When you are in your 20’s and 30’s the idea of a low-impact exercise for longevity just doesn’t have the same attraction as it does for a person as they age . When you’re young, you more typically climb mountains, run long distances and do other higher-impact sports.

The baby boomer population has finished running their marathons, buying houses, tried and given up psychedelics, and gone through the householder stage . They are now just entering a completely new phase whereby health, extending their life and releasing stress is of utmost importance. They want to see their grandkids grow up.

Enter Tai Chi

To some extent, whatever the baby boomer generation decides to do, the entire society follows because they constitute something like 30-40 percent of the population. As a result a lot of money follows the boomers along with marketing and paradigm shifts.

The tai chi community has been saying for about 10 years, maybe even 15 years, “Well, ya know the baby boomers are about 40, 45, and 50.” Well right now we are in the slot because the first wave is coming when they start hitting 60.

Baby boomers will finally be confronted with their own mortality. The earlier vanities of youth will flip into the cold hard realities of getting older. This is when many may jump on board with tai chi. As I have said elsewhere, tai chi really is the foremost preventative healthcare solution on the planet. Here is the demographics in the US from the year 2000.

US Population 2000 for Tai Chi

You can see from the graph the bulge that represents the boomers (note this chart is 10 years old). We’ve now reached the point where the first edge of baby boomers has tweaked over the 60-years-old bracket. The largest segment is just reaching 50, which just happens to be the same age in China when most people start practicing tai chi.

What makes Tai Chi sticky?

So what could create “The Stickiness Factor”? You’d have to be living in a cave not to recognize that for the past 15 years the level of general stress in America and Europe is escalating to the point where even medical associations are saying that it is the greatest cause of disease.

Tai chi is the one exercise that actually focuses on relaxing your nerves; yoga doesn’t even really do that. With the exception of yin or Taoist yoga, most yoga is not taught with releasing the nerves as a primary focus.

Tai chi (and also qigong of which tai chi is a subdivision) systematically trains your nervous system to relax. Tai chi is about relaxation. Relaxation is the opposite of stress and stress is a fancy word for tension. Tai chi is an antidote for tension.

Tai chi’s main selling point is not that you are going to look good, but that you’re actually and truly going to feel better. And it’s not a psychological thing about “everybody loves me.” When you wake up with aches and the pains and stress that kills you, you don’t feel good.

People get hooked on tai chi when they hit the “aha” moment where they realize they have a fewer pains and also can relax the nagging thoughts and stressful events that overwhelm the system.

It can be said that a large number of people who start and continue practicing tai chi get REAL results or they wouldn’t bother with it. Tai chi works. It addresses the biggest issue of our times directly—relaxation to counter the stress. It also doesn’t take five years of practice five hours a day to feel results. You generally feel results rather quickly, especially if you are training with a qualified tai chi teacher.

I might also mention another important aspect that makes tai chi sticky. In most cases tai chi is practiced in groups. This in itself is “sticky” because people like to get together, socialize and practice together. I have seen time and time again long-term bonds and friendships form in tai chi groups. As more and more tai chi groups form, the entire tai chi movement will build.

For tai chi to take off, it will need to be a grassroots trend. I have witnessed it happening in both China and America.

The unblocking move is that people have to realize that they can do tai chi in gym clothes. You don’t have to wear some fancy silk outfit. As tai chi makes it way into gyms and parks the momentum will pick up and it will spread quickly. The last point here is that tai chi does not generally require a massive investments – most tai chi classes are affordable and compared to the cost of healthcare tai chi is a great bargain.

Learning from the Kung Fu Boom

So we have covered “The Stickiness Factor” and also “The Power of Context”- both are in line to have tai chi go viral. But the last piece is Gladwell’s “The Law of the Few” rule which basically answers the question, “Who is going to promote tai chi and bring it to the masses?”

If we go back to the yoga movement what drove the popularity was NOT a bunch of fancy new yoga studios, nor its century-long history. It was the simple fact that famous people promoted it via the media and Hollywood – lots of videos and DVDs were sold. Hollywood integrated it into their culture and sent it directly into your living room.

We can also look to another fitness mega-trend that went over the tipping point in the 1970’s when martial arts, especially kung fu, boomed. Two things in the media and Hollywood ignited the kung fu boom.

The first was the TV series Kung Fu with David Caradine (who wasn’t even a martial artist, but that even didn’t matter). It was the fantasy, the illusion that got people interested. Half of the stuff that he was saying, which people thought was the Shaolin or the Buddhist, was actually straight out of  Tao Te Ching. It came from Taoism.

Interesting the one thing all Taoists have in common is tai chi. The ideas were powerful and they still are today.

The second factor was Bruce Lee coming onto the scene. He did the big movies with the hyper emotions of youth—anger, angst, and all the explosion of those ideas. The kung fu and karate trend exploded everywhere. I won’t comment on the fighting skills but for entertainment check out this clip of Bruce Lee:

So the missing piece is to have a celebrity, TV series or large movie in America that features tai chi in a big way. The tai chi craze will not be the same kind of an emotional explosion as the martial arts trend—one driven by youth. Nor will it be about looking good or stretching.

It’s going to be a different kind trend. It will be more like, “I’ve got to do something about all this stress that is destroying my life from the inside out.” “I want to live longer to see my grandkids grow up and not be in pain.”

Everybody knows this stress and tension exists internally. On a day to day level most know they are hurting, they can’t sleep and their nerves are on the edge. Most people in our culture simply don’t have a way of relaxing in the moment.

The Tai Chi Tipping Point Slot

Real tipping points are usually caused by a real need. We’re in the tai chi tipping point slot now. The only thing that’s missing is the TV show and/or a movie with some celebrity endorsement.

So now it’s a question of the first media channel recognizing the power of tai chi and who will become the poster child for the tai chi mega-trend.

What celebrity out there is willing and ready to take this forward? Who do you think would be the best person to promote tai chi? When do you think this will happen?

All of it is interesting and shall be fun to see unfold…I welcome your comments below.

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

richard December 22, 2009 at 3:54 pm

Great Article Bruce…how about Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt to promote tai chi?

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Thomas January 5, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Or how about Kareem Abdul Jabbar?

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craigd January 5, 2010 at 6:41 pm

TV and multimedia entertainment tend to disconnect people from the reality of their physical bodies. Someone who’s really serious about the internal arts will sooner or later need to leave behind the narcotics, whether chemical or electronic.

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Guy Davidson January 6, 2010 at 3:40 am

I wonder if it will be video games rather than movies that will sow the seed. Now that popular consoles are broadening their control mechanisms, a relevant motion-based game seems like only a matter of time. Microsoft recently filed an interesting patent (see this report: http://uk.gamespot.com/news/6244864.html?tag=result;title;0) for controlling games through electromyography, reading electrical signals sent out by a person’s muscles via electrodes. I write games for a living – all I need is a natural concept for tai chi…

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Thomas January 6, 2010 at 10:13 am

I agree Craig, and at the same time there are so many people out there who will never see the benefit or interest in these practices until it is supported or promoted in some way by the main stream media.

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richard January 6, 2010 at 2:32 pm

it seems to me that the main difference between tai chi and the yoga/kung fu phenomena, is that yoga and kung fu showcase and develop external traits, such as the wild kung fu action, or the tall, beautiful yoga girl posture. Tai Chi doesn’t really develop anything that is easily seen.
So I am thinking that it’s not a celebrity we are looking for to champion this stuff, it’s an older, openminded athlete, who gets into tai chi, or a similar art (bagua?)and is able to extend their career, not just in duration, but in the ability to continue to truly get better. and be very comfortable doing it..

like a 55 yr old michael jordan, who could still jump like a 23 yr old, scoring 40 points a game.

or a 80 yr old golfer hitting it 360 yds and scoring in the low/mid 60s.

one person like that, and people are going to get interested.

also, I really like the book by thomas Kuhn, nature of scientific revolution. it’s got a good take on how these concepts get absorbed into the scientific culture, rather than the public culture. many similarities with tipping point.

and thanks for doing the blog thing, bruce, this is great stuff.

just my 2 cents…:-)

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Jamie Reply:

I tell my kids its like starwars useing the force . I think peoples minds are ready for it . I know our minds need it . The kids now days have bigger understanding than they are given credit for when explained in the right way they get it qwiker than most collage grads with a masters . Im kinda hearing as a theame , that Tai chi needs to be sold . Nothing with this great of value needs to be sold . Everyone can benefit from this, its about listening (how appropriate) to your audience many or few . If you know what they need and communicate well it will happen all on its own .

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carolin Reply:

:-)

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R January 6, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Oprah.

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Joan Reply:

Oprah.

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Paul January 6, 2010 at 7:09 pm

Definitely some food for thought. Bruce, I think you make some good points about a rejuvenated older athlete. The “Kung Fu Effect” is still powerful today too, though. Several movies are fostering the growth of internal arts inside their choreography and plot lines. Jet Li just had one of his older movies re-released under the title “Tai Chi Master”, and there was a film he did a few years back, “The One” in which the fight choreography of the two main characters if very intentionally Hsing-I and Bagua. It would go a long way to have some of the aging, high profile martial artists like a Jackie Chan, Chuck Norris, or Jet Li throw some of their weight behind Tai Chi.

Guy, I love your idea about an active motion Tai Chi video game! I think aplatforms like the Wii are finally making concepts like this a viable reality. It sure is a lot easier to piggy back on a modern phenomenon like video gaming than re-invent the wheel. Maybe you could put together a game that fits well with the new Wii Fit promotion by Nintendo? We can talk about the pioneer Guy Davidson that started the video game Tai Chi Craze!

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Carlos Pissarro January 7, 2010 at 2:29 am

Usually massive spread of practice means dissolution of the quality involved. More important than many people practicing is practicing well. How to make the quality of Bruce’s teaching available to a large audience is the key. Of what interest is a mass of people thinking of tai chi but just scratching the surface of the art? The real message must go forward with it’s full potential, or it will degenerate into a comertial gymnastics. What has been done until now by Bruce’s school is extraordinary and only interesting to all of us around the world if it keeps the profound links tho authenticity and connection to our own inner life. Can you put that in a video game?

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Colin January 7, 2010 at 5:07 am

This is very interesting and I also thinkg that it is very important to think strategically in this kind of sophisticated way about long term trends and outcomes!

“So the missing piece is to have a celebrity, TV series or large movie in America that features tai chi in a big way.”

Perhaps get the celebrtiy and then the tv series and/or movie are more likely to follow … ?

For this ‘piece’ to be in place, it maybe doesn’t necessarily need to profile ‘quality’ tai chi. Was Jane Fonda’s yoga really good? Did this matter? Is it an ‘association’ of a key idea or image with a celebrity, rather than a ‘testimonial’ , that actually makes the difference?

Now that Jane Fonda is older would she not now be the perfect celebrity to promote tai chi? Her website still promotes fitness products and she might consider a collaboration on a new DVD featuring tai chi to add to her list. Is’t she also the ‘face’ of a lot of ‘anti-aging’ advertising? An endorsement from her on the anti-aging benefits of tai chi would build on her existing credibility with consumers/the public.

Even when things are at a tipping point, they still need to be pushed to actually ‘tip’! There’s nothing else for it Bruce, you’re going to have to open a gym in Hollywood! :-)

Regards,

Colin

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Jeff January 7, 2010 at 6:00 am

Hi Bruce,
I know you know the difference between Taijiquan and Qigong. Please use the Pinyin, using the Wade Giles only adds to the confusion. People think the “Chi” Tai Chi is the same as the “Chi” in Chi Kung. It’s not. Also, Taijiquan is a martial art. Taijiquan practitioners do Qigong. There are three pillars of Taijiquan: The forms, Push Hands and Qigong.. Qigong is the health practice of Taijiquan (and XingYi and Bagua Zhang). Frankly, I know more Bagua Zhang practitioners who are healers than Taijiquan practitioners. The word Taiji alone is the word for what westerners call the Yin Yang symbol. Taijiquan is not the health exercise that people claim, it is the Qigong that should be taught with the martial art that is the healing art. There are some core principles of the neijia arts that are the same as those in Qigong, but most teachers never mention them: Peng jin, ChanSi jin and the coordination between breath, movement and Qi flow, for example.
To get the benefits of Qigong, you have to practice it. It the west, too many people are looking for the “McDonalds” solution to health and exercise. They are unwilling to put in the time and effort to get real results. There are also a number of people teaching both Taijiquan and Qigong with no real skills or knowledge of the arts; they do have great marketing skills.
Having a celebrity who knows little or nothing about Taijiquan or Qigong to promote either is just BS marketing.
How many of your students have been willing to put in the time and effort you put in to learn what you know?

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JM Reply:

Many good points Jeff.

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Frances January 7, 2010 at 6:42 am

If Jet Li appeared playing tai chi in a park with paparrazi present, tai chi virus would get a jump start. David Carridine only had a very short course in tai chi before his kung fu series. Not convincing enough. Not sticky. It was a great script though.
Yoga was helped a lot by the line of slinky, clinging clothing that people could buy to show off their yoga bodies. Most boomers don’t look good in these. The loose baggy look is a harder fashion to sell, but Jet Li probably could. Can tai chi become viral without the fashion connection. Probably not. By the way, I’ve been waiting for a very long time for tai chi to become viral and pondering what it would take!

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Megan January 7, 2010 at 9:10 am

This is right on and I think we are going to see it happen within this decade, if not within the next five years. I have been practicing yoga for the past 25 years (and teaching for 15) and have seen it go from cult status to mainstream. I remember when people thought you were really weird if you said you practiced yoga.

Now that I am older, and yoga has not solved my problems with CFS and chemical sensitivities, I am turning to qigong with tremendous results so far. Being a yoga teacher, I naturally want to train to teach qigong. I want to be riding the crest of this wave. My small beginning is to teach folks at work (I am in marketing) to take small breaks and practice qigong. So far, I have been calling it “yoga,” but I guess it’s time to come out of the closet!

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Janus January 7, 2010 at 10:21 am

Wonderful article!

@Guy: How about if balanced/correctly performed movements built up mana for magic effects (grasp sparrows tail), activated travel through dimentional-portals (snake creeps low), opened up to different magic/energies in the game, like elemental forces, spirit-animals (dragon, phoenic, tortoise, unicorn), helped develop the characters stats by blancing emotions, connecting the head and the head for clearer/wiser thinking, etc. And daily Standing would built up stamina and better strength and constitution.

Perhaps, actually, t’ai chi would be the ideal exercise for a real “school of magic development” – much more so, than a study of musty old books! :) Though a map to the inner landscape would be needed, perhaps – how about the Tree of Life?

hhmmmm, maybe the celebrity won’t be an american – perhaps he will be from australia – like the guy from “The Fountain” (where-in he actually performs a couple of t’ai chi movement with a backdrop of stars behind him :) .

We shall see. :)

All the best,

J

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Jeff D January 7, 2010 at 12:14 pm

I think Celebrity is still the fastest, best way to go. It would help if you could find someone who is probably semi-retired and has something of an impeccable reputation to become a poster child for the ancient and honorable art of Tai Chi. Sean Connery, Pat Boone, Paul Newman(I know he’s passed on), etc. Being a Vietnam Vet, Jane Fonda’s name just makes me want to puke. That is her image to me. It doesn’t hurt to get some political clout behind such a movement either. Promotion and Marketing grant funding for public good is always available.

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Bruce Hutchinson January 7, 2010 at 5:02 pm

In some ways the rules have changed, Social networks (facebook, myspace, linkedin), Blogs like this, microblogs like twitter, and video sharing sites like YouTube there are more ways to build the momentum.

I think good old live appearances helps out too. My public school is based in a small Pa Community and the best promotion tool I have found is simply practicing in the park.

We will also need advicates in the traditional fitness and medical communites to really develop the push.

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stephen January 7, 2010 at 6:06 pm

The only celeb I know of who does Tai Chi is Lou Reed

http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/celebrity/article2110722.ece

What about a Tai Chi “Reality Show” with Lou Reed as the Master / Presenter?

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cynthia January 7, 2010 at 8:11 pm

We have a famous musician, Lou Reed who practices Chen Style Tai Chi.
He even wrote a wonderful piece of music specifically to practice his Tai chi to – The Hudson River Wind Meditations. It is a very interesting piece. Perhaps he can come forward and do more promotion.

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Jen January 7, 2010 at 11:51 pm

Thanks Bruce. I think Oprah and Steven Colbert too. I think doctors and nurse practitioners and physical therapists referring their patients and clients to your qualified instructors would help a lot of people too. Then those people refer their friends etc. We need more instructors instructing people, the rest will follow naturally, as it does with things that work.

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craigd January 10, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Lou Reed? Hmm, maybe he could somehow rework the lyrics of “Heroin” and change it to “Tai Chi”. The ch’i rushing through the blood, and to the brain… Or “Im Waiting for the Man”– Going to Grand Street, 25 dollars in my hand (for a class)…

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Bob Hughes January 19, 2010 at 4:50 pm

Wii

Bruce, produce a Wii game for taiji/qigong/bagua
(with some added action–competing taijichuan players using Chin Na to seize rabid Avatars).

After all the distinguishing feature of the Wii console is its wireless controller, the Wii Remote, would be used as a handheld pointing device and detects movement in three dimensions (peng, lu, ji.)

Maybe develop a Qi-polygraph hook-up which gives bio-feedback when the kwa opens or closes giving young players a dose of high frutose corn syrup.

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Geoff Lister January 21, 2010 at 11:05 am

Yoga also has multiple centers where retreats, workshops are held in beautiful settings. Tai chi has a few. Kripalu, with a huge mailing list, is 95% a presenter of yoga with only a rare qigong workshop. Even though tai chi doesn’t cause the same injuries that yoga does, the tai chi “body shape” is not as sexy as the slender, relatively exposed yoga one. In a society where so many women are without partners, yoga offers hope to them of having an attractive body. Yoga has multiple, well written journals with attractive photos. Tai chi has Tai Chi Magazine, an obtuse, abstruse and confusing intermittent journal no longer carried by Barnes and Noble. Tough road.

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Kristy February 2, 2010 at 7:43 am

Game idea for Guy – When learning about shifting weight and balance in the tai chi form I was also using a Wii with my children. At the time I was thinking they should make a Wii game that recognizes when you have shifted your weight or placed your foot correctly to improve muscle control. I also thought the ideas by Janus were interesting. It could get kids involved.

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richard Reply:

I think the idea for a Wii game is awesome…we did a google search and it appears the avg cost is between 5-10 million to develop. Would just need someone to back that idea in a big way.

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Sito March 2, 2010 at 9:39 am

i just watched a video of a dog spinning nunchucks. … ok, so maybe that’s not quite on point. maybe a television show on fit tv? that seems like a good fit (no pun intended), especially for tao yoga or breathing or something else that folks might click to more easily that also would draw them into the energy arts program. i sort of grok the critique of electronic media as a narcotic, but here i am typing this on a computer. is the medium the message, or a tool that can be positive or negative?

i’m not sure “real” tai chi is for the masses. there’s a fundamental “flaw” in tai chi that embodies its inherent contradictions. like anything worthwhile, it’s not something that’s easy. it’s simple in many ways, but not easy. it requires diligence and practice. now, how the hell do we market diligence, practice and responsibility to one’s self? bruce can lead us to water, but he cannot make us drink. maybe the idea is that most people sip anyway, but with enough people drinking it smooths out the collective energy. tai chi practitioners as alchemists, purifying the jumbled energy of 6 billion souls!

ok, so blablabla … on point to the question of going viral, a television program on fit tv is very doable. it’s a small step but potentially very powerful.

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Ben March 8, 2010 at 10:08 am

Stephen Chow’s first English language movie will be called “Tai Chi.” It stars Jack Black and Anne Hathaway, and it begins filming in June. This film probably wouldn’t normally appeal to the 50+ demographic except it’s a remake of Way of the dragon. If it gets a big enough marketing campaign it may provide a publicity boost for Tai Chi though in what context is anyone’s guess.

There are already people teaching Tai Chi forms in just about every small to medium sized town across the US. I think the tipping point will come when there is an awareness in the general population about the kinds of skills a Tai Chi teacher should have. Fortunately technologies like YouTube and blogs like this one are spreading that awareness.

Maybe Stephen Chow’s film can help.

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E.K March 10, 2010 at 8:19 pm

I agree about the silky clothes. I think an internationalization and new contemporary, comfortable clothes is part of the thing. I think it will also move away from the chinese-ness to international. Yoga moved away from Indian look and appearance, though the masters (gurus) are still acknowledged and many from India. Similarly the Chinese sifu and masters will be a guiding light, but modern teachers will spread the art.

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Dale Napier March 13, 2010 at 6:08 pm

I’m more worried about a “jump the shark” moment than reaching a tipping point – but then, they may be the same thing. The more it spreads quickly amongst the masses, the more it will be diluted until it is little more than people blissing out while they wave their fingers in the sky. I’ve already read talk of weekend seminars for training beginners to become “certified” teachers virtually overnight – and it would disturb me greatly if I let it. But no matter what happens, I will keep teaching as my teacher teaches, and his teacher taught, and his teacher before him. That will be good enough, no matter what the future brings.

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Jamie Reply:

I think there should be more faith in the people and the practice . In a world where peoples minds are on work realationships bills hell the new world order and corrupt banks there can be no downside to tai chi being elevated in mass thought . Even bad tai chi can plant the seed in a person who really desires the true essence of the art . Maybe the lesson for that one is decernment . The seed is the seed and it is only borrowed .

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Mary Ann Arellano March 25, 2010 at 5:32 am

Maybe the chi walking, chi running groups could have some crossover…

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Alison April 16, 2010 at 3:45 am

Many thanks Bruce for raising this exciting prospect. Just holding this idea has already inspired me to do more promotion of Taijiquan locally.

Most contributors to this thread so far have talked about what other people might do. I believe that an important part of the tipping point will also be Taiji players like you and I getting out there in our parks and town centres, regularly being seen in action. This way we can build the understanding that Taiji is a normal activity that anyone can take part in. For extra impact we can get together with other Taijiquan schools in our area and hold mass outdoor events locally, nationally or internationally. Power to the people!

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Jamie June 20, 2010 at 8:44 am

How bout some regular person with all the problems of modern man who heals useing this meathod ,documents it through journal and video an then disperses thier story through various media kinda like the biggest looser taoist style . People are tired of celebrity , well kinda . But I see that through these reality shows the general public is searching for that hero they connect with can relate to because it creates hope for them . I propose someone really consider this , imagine the impact and lets face it taoism is super cool . I saw this movie called Raw for life by Gabriel Cousens an enlightened man of high attainment . This would be the template and if you havent seen it he cures diabetes and does it in a way that is so skilled that if it was put in any slot it would be the most riveting thing on the tube and would go strait epidemic .

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Jamie June 20, 2010 at 9:55 am

Sorry cant help myself but as far as the park goes PUSH HANDS . Who wouldnt walk by and ask ” what are they doin and why ?”I live in Worcester Ma someone start one and ill go an bring people . What a great thing for kids to walk by an see esspecially in the city where that kind of close contact usually ends up being only one of two things .

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Rich December 12, 2011 at 7:21 am

What about Jet Li, he has already produced a movie called “Tai Chi Master” we just need to get movies like this on the big screen.

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Rodney June 12, 2012 at 9:16 am

Jet Li has already been promoting Tai Chi and has teamed up with Adidas to create Wuji , which is a bunch of exercises using tai chi. I think Jet Li with another Western Celebrity would be a good combination

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Alicia October 3, 2012 at 5:41 pm

My husband and I were talking about exactly these points with tai chi/qigong! I saw some tabloid photo the other day with a pic of some famous model who was coming out of her tai chi session, so it’s starting in Hollywood! We need someone like Liam Neesom to start doing it. Keanu Reeves is working on Man of Tai Chi, but that’s still a select audience. And it’s Keanu…. Am very curious to see what Jet Li and Jack Ma do! Also, the executive world is just starting to latch onto the stress-relief and focus benefits of tai chi/chi gong. Love your books, btw! You’re a most generous teacher. Thank you!

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Alicia October 3, 2012 at 5:43 pm
SH October 11, 2012 at 1:42 am

Hi Bruce

While not historically accurate, this might become the catalyst that you refer to :
Taichi 0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9bHTviY6KM

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Andy Gardner October 11, 2012 at 4:22 am

Hi Bruce,
Great article. I think Daniel Craig would be great to promote Tai Chi, maybe in unison alongside Roger Moore or Shaun Connery. What could be better – Bond practicing Tai Chi! :-)

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Philip Bonifonte November 7, 2012 at 2:38 am

Funny how people want Taijiquan to “explode”, especially when you consider that Taijiquan is a Taoist art and the Taoist philosophy hardly espouses becoming large and famous; rather, they seek to remain plain and unnoticed.

“The Way of Heaven does not complete, and yet it skillfully achieves victory. It does not speak, and yet it skillfully responds to things. It comes to you without your invitation.”

One must question why, commercial aspirations aside, we wish Taijiquan to become the next McDonald’s. The Mom-and-Pop Diner down the street serves far tastier and healthier food, yet it is the McDonald’s that receives all the business. Why? Because they have “exploded”.

If we wish to keep Taijiquan pure, perhaps we should just leave it be.

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Lee Reply:

well said
“Walk Softly carry a big chi belly”

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Lee Reply:

Mcdonalds is disappointing, closed door tai chi is not

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Swan June 23, 2013 at 8:43 pm

Here are some links that mention celebs and Taijiquan:

Will and Jada Smith: http://www.popsugar.com/Video-Smith-Karate-Kid-Premiere-8715671

RZA (rapper from the Wu Tang Clan, actor on Californication), Mel Gibson, Kunal Kapoor (Bollywood Actor), Adrian Paul (Highlander), Joshua Waitzkin (subject of the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer): http://www.your-martial-arts-resources.com/martial-arts-celebrities.html

Hugh Jackman (primarily for the movie The Fountain): http://www.menshealth.com/celebrity-fitness/hugh-jackman-workout

Again Gisele Bundchen: http://www.fitsugar.com/Gisele-Bundchen-Exercise-Routine-21649318?slide=1

That seems to be a start

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William July 3, 2013 at 9:22 am

If no one has heard yet, David Dorian Ross and Jet Li have teamed up to promote Tai Chi in a big way.

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