Among the weekend warrior, or ‘enthusiast’ crowd, it has become popular over the years to think and then claim that one can or should practice ‘some’ Tai Chi for specific benefits while practicing other arts for other benefits that Tai Chi supposedly lacks. This is a small piece I wrote on this some years ago.
Generally, if we eat, let’s say a massive plate of enchiladas and carne asada we may digest it just fine with the expected and desired effects of a bit of temporary full body paralysis, and a bout of severe farting. However, if we then mix it with a Thai dish of say, pineapple coconut milk chicken curry, most likely we are going to run into some nasty digestion problem, an uncomfortable situation. Not all foods mix, like they say, do not drink citrus after eating beans because it causes indigestion.
I think many so-called “external” arts can be mixed and matched if the methods are agreeable to each other, however some so-called “internal” arts are very selfish; they are designed (planned) to be one’s only and overriding method.
Unless one’s Taijiquan for example, is very superficually practiced, it is not meant to mix with some other method, and generally won’t mix with many others besides a few perhaps similar internal methods. The goal with something like Taijiquan is to develop, over the long term, a body method that is all encompassing and becomes natural to one’s movement. Equally important is the long term development of a specific (different) way of engaging force. If this body method and engagement method are not natural/habitual, or at least heartily intended, then one cannot say they “understand” Taijiquan. There is no “understanding” in a cerebral way, there is only physically achieving through practice, then “understanding” what was realized.
If one has achieved this body method and engagement method, they do not then have the “choice” to apply it or not. If it has become natural at that point. It just is, there is no-off switch, training is a one way path.
If we claim to know Taijiquan but we still hard rigidly punches like a Jackie Chan movie, its rather meaningless. Really “digesting” Taijiquan means following through with the training to the point of naturalization of its methods. At that point it may be interesting to know the practitioners view on the possibilities for “mix and match”. Before that point it is useless speculation of a physically unrealized concept.
My first teacher, Chen JinHong, used to say, “Night-train or Cobra (two different kinds of very strong and very cheap hard liquor found in USA) will get you drunk fast, but Chen Taijiquan is like Napolean brandy”. It is fine to mix and match Budweiser and Coors, (cheap beers) it’s all piss on the way out. But if you want to mix Napolean brandy, or some expensive vintage wine into the mix, then you have really missed the whole point and wasted a huge bit of cash.