Are you practicing tai chi?

"Are you practicing tai chi?" a fellow once asked me. "No, kung fu," I replied. He looked startled. I can only guess why he seemed surprised. Maybe because of one the following:

Women practice gentle, beautiful body/health sports.
I seem like a peaceable person.
Some misunderstanding about martial arts. 

Why do I practice a hard style martial arts rather than some other work out?

1.) The camaraderie. Jack, Jared, Walter, Brian, Andre, Juan Miguel, Gia, John, Ken. These are some of the people I have practiced with over the years. I remember them as clearly as close friends or family members. Ours is not a solitary, self-improvement practice. Anytime they improved, I did. We push each other. We practice together. We bow to each other.

2.) The yin and yang. Like all beings, I have yin and yang characteristics. At times, I have a lot of yin. Martial arts pushes me to develop my yang side.

3.) The conviviality. There is humor. There is absurdity in trying new physical challenges and complicated maneuvers. There is the laughter of spending time with people you know well within that space.

4.) The proximity. My fellow martial artists and I have spent time within each others' grips, arms, armpits, legs, and so on. One moment you are upright, the next your classmate is wringing your arm, wrist, elbow, fingers, or hand like a wet rag. Time to tap out.

5.) The gravity. I live in a mostly happy bubble. I like learning how to wringing an arm, wrist, elbow, fingers, or hand, or sweep a leg or ankle. I like asking myself, how will this work for me? I like when my classmates tell me my technique is not good. When they do, I can improve.