Created By: Snuffy on December 9, 2011

Tai Chi Always Wins

Going the mystical route ensures victory.

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No matter how talented or skilled your opponent, no matter how violent or strong he might be, no matter how many mooks he has on his side, once you learn tai chi you will always win. A trope seen often in Kung Fu flicks, Tai Chi Always Wins refers to the tendency to trump up Tai Chi as the ultimate martial art. The moment the protagonist learns it, it is unlikely that he will every lose a fight. Can also qualify in some situations as an 11thHourSuperpower.
Community Feedback Replies: 11
  • December 9, 2011
    I have never even heard of anything like this. Could you give some examples? Now, I have seen cases of 'mystic' martial arts winning out over raw size and strength, but I've never heard of it specifically and unusually applied to tai chi.
  • December 9, 2011
    I swear we have this somewhere, I just can't find it.
  • December 12, 2011
    It's not always Tai Chi. It's typically any of the "soft styles" or any esoteric branch of martial arts (especially ones influenced by Taoism). As examples, look for the Jet Li films Tai Chi Master or The One or the Jackie Chan film Drunken Master(one or two), the vast majority of the Stephen Chow movies (especially Shaolin Soccer where Tai Chi does in fact save the day), or Nick Harkaway's The Gone Away World. There's others I assure you.
  • December 13, 2011
    Hard Tai Chi is pretty hardcore IRL.
  • December 13, 2011
    The One was going to be my go to example, too. The villain practices a very linear, offensive kung fu, while the hero practices a very circular art. It's a characterization/philosophy thing. The villain strives only for his goal, the hero strives for harmony with the universe.
  • December 14, 2011
    That doesn't *really* sound like this trope as it was initially described, though. Both martial arts are, in popular perception, about equally mystical. Both martial arts are superhuman in portrayal in the story. They tie into characterization, with the aggressor using hard MA versus the peaceful guy using soft MA, but the trope description doesn't actually say anything about that.

    IMO, this trope needs to be scrapped and restarted with a better idea of what its supposed to cover. Is it the idea that practioners of soft MA will always be heroes ( and thus benefit from dramatic convention )? Is it the idea that soft MA are always/more often mystical than other types of fighting? Is it the idea that martial arts beats "unskilled brawling" even when practiced by whithered old lady vs 250 pound MMA champion?
  • December 17, 2011
    What I thought it was intended to imply was that it's not about your strength or aggression, but about the spirituality. Or, as John Casey's sensei always said: "You need to find your center, John!"
  • December 18, 2011
    Very likely, but that doesn't really carry over well in this trope as written.
  • January 21, 2012

    A better title may be Soft Vs Hard or Rock Vs Water, in which case it won't sepcifically be about Tai Chi as the penultimate martial art, but more about the comparisons between 'hard' and 'soft' styles. Note than RL M As usually advocate a balance between the two. What differs is usually the emphasis on the spiritual/qi/ki/internal strength (soft) aspects and the physical (hard) aspects. I don't know if 'western' martial arts has this, but for 'eastern' martial arts, this is usually the case.
  • January 21, 2012
    I like rock vs water
  • January 21, 2012
    GAH, I wrote a lenghty reply and when I sent it it simply evaporated, can you believe it?

    Anyway, it was about Kenichi The Mightiest Disciple and Avatar The Last Airbender, and how they interact with this trope.