Why Yoga, Taijiquan and Qi Gong are not sports
Today, everything revolves around classifications and bureaucratic distinctions, which often only serve to create confusion and differentiation between 'what I do and what you do'.
These constant distinctions only create chaos in the minds of learners and lead many of them to ask questions such as:
What is this activity?
Will I lose weight if I join?
What if I gain mass?
If I practise Yoga, Taijiquan or Qi Gong in a gym, am I doing sport?
Let us clarify between a purely bureaucratic definition and a real practical/conceptual principle of these arts.
Because, yes, they are arts and not sporting activities.
Personally, I grew up in the world of Martial Arts and I have ranged in very different worlds within the Martial Arts themselves (from Kick Boxing to Karate, for example) and until a few years ago I did not understand the real difference between the former and the latter, because I did not apply a simple but fundamental principle in my practice.
Even between two arts that have similar roots, what makes Kick Boxing a sport and Karate a real art?
What differentiates artistic gymnastics from Yoga?
What is the principle that really leads to Taijiquan being identified as an Art and not a sport like gentle gymnastics?
After much work on myself, having studied, practiced and deepened the search for the real presence of mind in the movement (which never ends, not even in a lifetime of work on himself), I came to the conclusion that today there is so much confusion in the holistic sector also for a lack of true and clear information from operators and teachers themselves.
It is very beautiful and scenic to see photos of Yoga teachers performing very difficult Asanas at the limit of the human and videos of Martial Arts practitioners breaking huge pieces of wood with the force of a single finger, but, really, what do they represent?
Why is there this maniacal need to appear without letting the being shine through?
What difference does it make if the yoga teacher is photographed in a simple seated position or the martial arts master is portrayed in sixes?
What if not appearance?
And why, all the more so in these arts, should it be preferred to be and not to do?
Because the principle underlying an Art is quite different from that of pure sport.
The real principle of practice is not the achievement of brute force, of the perfect position or of seemingly unattainable balance, but it is the ability to experience the journey that could lead to position, to the development of one's body, to the conscious attention of one's breath, all guided by a fundamental factor:
What does empty movement without intention lead to?
How can I expect to reach the top of the mountain if, on the journey, I don't pay attention to the intention I give to the journey and every single step?
I will never reach it.
In Chinese culture there is a saying that represents the above in the round:
Yi dao, Qi dao.
Where intention flows, Energy flows.
If I do not put the correct intention into my movement - into moving even a single toe - then I am not living the Art, but I am playing a sport.
And there is nothing wrong with that, but it is right to call a spade a spade and not to bring appearance and confusion to an already confused field.
To conclude this article and give further value to my considerations, I would like to share with you two interviews of two people with very different life stories and Masters of two different, but similar arts:
- Antonio Nuzzo, one of the most important Masters at national and international level in the world of Yoga
- Shifu Shi Heng Yi, Shaolin Master and leader of the Shaolin Temple Europe in Germany.
Two Masters with different histories, different and distant lives, even different languages, but expressing exactly the same concept.
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