5 Surprising Reasons Tai-Chi is Effective for Self-Defense

Tai Chi

I was doing Tai-Chi one day when I thought- is what I’m doing valuable for fighting? I was doing it for spiritual purposes. However, I may have gotten results I wasn’t expecting.

Tai chi is effective for self-defense because it’s a traditional martial art that has taught people to fight. As a result, if you practice it, you’ll notice you learn fighting movements. For instance, Tai Chi trainees practice various kicking and grappling techniques- suitable for self-defense. 

Although most people believe Tai Chi isn’t as effective for self-defense- it is. Here are the five reasons it’s suitable for such purposes.

  • In its origin- it taught people to fight.
  • It’s a martial art.
  • Its movements are suitable for self-defense.
  • It reduces stress and aggression levels.
  • It betters physical condition.

As of right one, you may not understand how one or more of the reasons are suitable for self-defense. Because of that, I’ll go through each one and its contribution to the fighting aspect it brings. 

Throughout my life, I used Tai-Chi- to release built tension and improve my mental health. However, the better I became, the more surprising results I experienced. I wrote an article on the benefits of martial arts. It correlates closely with this article, and thus I recommend reading it. 

Here’s a short- proven by a study- benefits you’ll gain from doing Tai Chi routinely. (Source)

  • Decreased stress, anxiety and depression.
  • Improved mood.
  • Improved aerobic capacity.
  • Increased energy and stamina.
  • Improved flexibility, balance and agility.
  • Improved muscle strength and definition.

Tai Chi is one of the best martial arts to practice at home. Therefore, you can begin doing it for free. I wrote a complete guide to do so– and I encourage reading it if you want to start training cost-free. 

#1 – In its origin- it taught people to fight.

Martial arts, in their essence, teach people to fight. Consequently, since Tai Chi is one- it serves the same purpose. Thus its trainees will learn to fight eventually. 

Tai Chi is a martial art. As a result, people learn to fight while practicing it. However, it’s not the most suitable fighting style for such a purpose. Instead, it serves other pursuits- such as decreasing stress and aggression levels- which are crucial for self-defense. 

Back when life was simple, communities taught their people martial arts for self-defense. Now, Tai Chi has existed since the 16th century. Back then, people used it to learn to fight in close quarters. 

Some may argue; How will I learn self-defense from practicing slow movements. For that, I’ll include a video that perfectly demonstrates the answer. 

Essentially, these slow movements that you practice are fighting techniques. Thus if you speed them up in the appropriate situation, you’ll cause damage to your opponent. Again, I encourage watching the following video as it demonstrates this answer. 

#2 – It’s a martial art.

Although this reason is similar to the last one, they’re somewhat different. Yes, Tai Chi- in its origin, taught people to fight- since it’s a martial art. Yet, some tend to forget that it’s a martial art. As a result, you’ll learn to fight no matter what you’re trying to achieve. 

Tai Chi is a martial art, and therefore it teaches valuable and appropriate fighting techniques. Although it involves slow and precise movements that may not seem practical for fighting, they are. Today, people use it in elite fighting platforms, such as MMA. 

Today, many people know martial arts as competitive sports- Primarily the UFC. Mixed martial arts is the perfect example to get my point across. The following video shows elite fighters using Tai Chi to dominate their opponents. 

I’ll be blunt with you- it’s not the best martial art one can learn for fighting. I believe it’s been clear all along. However, it holds additional value- that most fighting styles don’t have. Consequently, learning it is highly effective for self-defense. 

Finding someone using Tai Chi in MMA is no easy task. From that, we interpret that many fighters aren’t using such techniques- which makes sense. Instead, they use more suitable martial arts for fighting- such as Boxing, Kickboxing, and Muay-Thai. 

To summarize, Tai Chi is a martial art. Therefore, it teaches people to fight and to use self-defense. For that reason, by participating in it, you’ll learn to fight accordingly. 

#3 – Its movements are suitable for self-defense.

There’s a wide range of movements suitable for fighting- in general. Learning them- will provide you with the basic knowledge that you can use for fighting purposes. If you’re interested in knowing self-defense, you may want to research which movements are best.

Tai Chi teaches movements- suitable for self-defense and fighting- in general. For instance, grappling, kicking, striking, and other submissions forms are proper for self-defense. When doing Tai Chi, you’ll perform some of these techniques. 

Yet, many people believe that it’s not as effective for these pursuits. However, that cannot be further from the truth. Although you may practice slow movements- at first, each trainee takes the martial art to its goals. Hence if you want to learn fighting techniques- you’ll practice rapidly.

On the other hand, if you desire the spiritual part of the fighting style, you’ll practice at a slower pace than the average trainee. Because of that, you’ll notice mental benefits over learning to fight. For instance, practitioners who do so will not learn self-defense. Instead, they’ll reduce their stress and aggression levels- which is incredible. 

To summarize, if you want to learn fighting techniques- and are hesitant to learn Tai Chi, don’t be. Any practitioner takes the martial art to suit their pursuits. Thus if you’re looking for Tai Chi self-defense classes, many solid schools teach it. 

#4 – It reduces stress and aggression levels.

As I mentioned in the last section, martial arts will assist you in reducing stress and aggression levels. Notably, fighting styles that involve meditation drills- will do so more thoroughly. Let’s discuss Tai Chi and its effects in that field. 

Tai Chi reduces stress and overall aggression and violence levels because it provides the trainees with an outlet. Additionally, it incorporates many meditation drills. Such drills assist in managing one’s overall stress and aggression levels. 

According to a study, “Martial arts apprentices turned out to present a statistically significantly lower level of hostility and of the general aggression index than combat sports athletes” (Source)

From the study I cited, we can understand a primary point. Most martial arts, such as Tai Chi, Kung fu, and Karate, will reduce overall hostility levels. 

Now, does that mean that you won’t be able to be as aggressive and physically strong as before you began practicing? The opposite is true. 

You’ll begin to increase your overall physical strength and control in the movements- the better you get. However, you’ll become less stressed and less violent towards unwanted people. Thus you’ll better your well-being- which is highly desirable in today’s world. 

#5 – It betters physical condition.

Most martial arts are physical activites. Because of that, doing them- will allow you to burn more calories every week. As a result, managing your body weight- becomes effortless. Many fighting styles are better than the others in that sense

Practicing Tai Chi will assist you in managing your body weight because it uses many muscles in training. Thus you’ll burn more calories and better your physical condition. Today, achieving such a feat is highly desirable, and you can do so with this martial art. 

Yet, many martial arts are better than Tai Chi in the fitness aspect. As a result, if that’s your goal- I don’t recommend doing it. Instead, consider Kickboxing, Boxing, Muay-Thai, and Jiu-Jitsu. 

I wrote an article on whether martial arts will get you in shape. This topic closely correlates with this article, and therefore I recommend reading it. 

A recent study conducted on the effects of Krav Maga training found that it’s an effective workout for many purposes. As a result, we can interpret that martial arts- in general, will have a similar effect. Thus Tai Chi is an effective workout if you’re doing it appropriately. 

The following video is a Tai Chi session that burns some calories. I recommend incorporating it into your daily routine. Consequently, you’ll better your physical condition and practice the fighting style. 

Is Tai Chi effective in a street fight?

Learning any martial art- is a wise choice. Even if you don’t want to fight ever in your life- learning to do so- is crucial for your safety. If you’re unfamiliar with self-defense, you’ll freeze in dangerous situations. As a result, you won’t ensure your security. 

Tai Chi is effective in a street fight because it teaches various effective fighting techniques. However, learn it the appropriate way instead of doing it for the spiritual benefits. For instance, if you practice slow movements exclusively, you won’t become capable of self-defense.

Yet, other fighting styles are more suitable for street fights. For that reason, if you practice them- you may become more capable more quickly. For instance, Muay-Thai is a fantastic martial art– suitable for overcoming street fights. 

Is Tai Chi defensive or offensive?

If you look at just a couple of Tai Chi videos, you’ll notice a repeating pattern. The movements are slower than what you expect from fighting classes. When you picture a street fight- or a self-defense situation, you’re thinking of sweat and blood. Yet, that’s not the case with this fighting style. 

Tai Chi is defensive and offensive because it’s an all-around martial art. Consequently, you’ll learn plenty of defensive and offensive moves. Thus you’ll become capable of using them to overcome dangerous situations, such as street fights.

To clarify my point, take a look at this video. If you decide to watch it, you’ll understand the basic defensive and offensive moves one can learn- in any martial art. Well, in Tai Chi- you’ll practice both. 

How do you fight with Tai Chi?

As much as I would like to endorse Tai Chi as the best martial art for fighting, it’s not. Therefore, if your goal is to learn to fight appropriately, I recommend following the link. 

You fight with Tai Chi by using the techniques you learn rapidly. As a result, you’ll become capable of using them for both defense and offense. Combining these will better- your fighting skills and transform you into a solid fighter. 

On the other hand, words don’t replace actions. Thus I recommend watching the following video that shows fundamental Tai Chi moves. If you incorporate this into your daily routine- you’ll become better every day. Hence you’ll be a solid fighter after a short period. 

Transforming the techniques- you learn in training to fighting moves is challenging, especially in Tai Chi. As a result, I recommend attending classes to allow a qualified instructor to teach you such skills. If you don’t, you may find it incredibly demanding. 


Today, many people don’t value Tai Chi as much as it’s actually worth. Because of that, knowing what it’s worth- is crucial. For instance, you may watch a YouTube video of an instructor teaching slow movements and think: “Well, it’s not as exciting as Boxing or any other martial art.” 

Thus you may think that it doesn’t teach any valuable fighting skills. However, the opposite is true. Tai Chi is a traditional martial art that has prepared people to fight appropriately. As a result, if we take it into today’s world, we understand that it teaches self-defense. 

To learn self-defense- participating in any martial art- is wise. Their sole purpose is to teach people to fight accordingly. Hence if you participate in any- you’ll learn to do so. 

However, there’s a variety of martial arts and therefore knowing which ones are the best- is crucial for your success. For instance, you can learn Kickboxing, Boxing, Muay-Thai, or Kung fu. So, how do you know which one is most suitable? 

For that, I wrote an article- on the best martial arts you should learn. I highly recommend reading it as it provides plenty of value. 


I've served in the military as a special forces operator for 4-years. In that period, I've trained in many martial arts, including karate, MMA, BJJ, boxing, and even Krav Maga. I want to share my passion with you, so here it is!

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