Notable Tai Chi teacher, Damo Mitchel, just released a new video with Adam Mizner where he addresses some of the controversy over The Power of Chi documentary that is worth watching, if you care about these sorts of things.
Damo Mitchell and Adam Mizner are a couple of the most well-known modern Tai Chi teachers on the seminar circuit, both of whom have a lot of followers on social media, and large organisations of students behind them. The Power of Chi was a movie where Adam Mziner demonstrated his chi/qi on a number of athletes from various sports. The movie has since mysteriously disappeared from the Internet, as far as I can tell, but the trailer is still on YouTube:
You can see from the start of the clip where Damo’s thinking is at – the reason people criticise the movie, or himself and Adam, is because they are jealous of how well he and Adam are doing and that the people who criticise them have less followers so are below them and it’s therefore wrong to “punch down” by replying to them. These low level people also lack “are not in a good space mentally”’. His other point is that the movie was not made by Adam, he was just a paid performer in it, therefore everybody’s criticism is misplaced.
Well, talk about missing the point entirely!
At no point does he address the central issue I and many others had with the movie – that all this “chi” stuff is nothing to do with chi/qi!
Now, I’m not egotistical enough to think that Damo is addressing this video specifically to me, but my original post about the documentary is still there for everybody to read. As you can see, I said I thought the whole thing was a bit silly. That’s about the worst of it!
You can decide for yourself if that means I am racked with jealousy about how many students Adam and Damo have, and how great their lives are… I really am not even playing in the same league as Adam and Damo – they are professional Tai Chi teachers making a living off this, I’m not. I have a real job, and just run this blog in my spare time for fun. It’s the same with my podcast. But that doesn’t mean I’m not serious about my practice.
The other thing I did in my original post was link to my friend Rob Poyton’s video response to the trailer showing how all the supposed Chi feats in the trailer were really done – which I thought was quite cool, but seems to have really put the cat amongst the pigeons. I mean part of the attraction of seeing a stage magician is working out how the magic is really done, right?
Now that video by Rob seemed to raise the ire of many of Adam’s followers (who posted in the comments section of my blog, which are still there and you can read) who replied with such gems as this:
“I’m disappointed in your entire take on internal power, as indicated by your dismissive way of talking about those who actually do possess some genuine internal power as using “tricks”. To be blunt, you’re just ignorant–that is, you have no personal experience with real practitioners and assume everyone showing such power must be a charlatan. “
“Why do you have a website about Taiji (that’s the correct pinyin spelling btw) when you’ve never met any of the top taiji practitioners – and refuse to meet them before publishing negative theories about the limits of the art? So the best explanation to you is that the top practitioners in the world who have trained thousands of students are merely liars with fake reviews from professional athletes and professional teachers?”
“So you did not see the move, or met anyone in the movie to experience this skill/ attribute first hand. Kind of strange to have such strong opinions on something you have no experience in….”
You can see from the comments that the followers of Adam and Damo really do think that the feats presented in the movie, The Power of Chi, are real demonstrations of chi power, (or Qi power.) Again, that’s my issue with all this stuff, not that they’re making a good living off teaching Tai Chi.
As a complete co-incidence Rob just released another clip in the last few days, this time about the subject of Empty Force, that’s also worth a watch, and will undoubtedly upset all these same people all over again, for exactly the same reasons:
There’s a long history of the Tai Chi magician. Empty Force is something that the Tai Chi Magicians of the world engage in regularly, and once again, I think it’s cool that Rob is posting a video showing how it works.
As for Damo and Adam, I hope they keep enjoying their cocktails and cigars – they seem to be having a great time, hidden away in all that smoke, being Tai Chi Gurus. I’m not jealous that we have very different lives at all. I wouldn’t trade mine for anything. Spending a month on a retreat in Thailand training Tai Chi full time, (let alone a year!), sounds like absolute hell to me. I’m sure it would send me potty! I’d rather be with my family, friends and pets, thanks.
It looks like Adam and Damo have some real skills in Tai Chi push hands – I’m not doubting that. After all, they’ve had years training full time to get good at this stuff, so they better have something by now. But as with everything in the internal arts – it pays to keep your feet firmly on the ground.