As somebody who has been training in Taijiquan for a number of years, have often heard, read or watch material that doubt the very existence of Taijiquan. People have the right to express their opinions, but they also have to be responsible for what they write or present. All too often, people say how pretty Taijiquan looks, but at the end of it all, doubt all reason as to how it can be a martial art at all. After all, it does not fit in what they perceive as martial arts. There isn't a Bruce Lee factor and everything is too slow. People who say things like this often have very little knowledge or insight on the very little subject they talk about. Taijiquan forms are performed in one way, but applications are done in another. But is like religion and spirituality, because until you have been there, you really wouldn't know.
Recently, I have developed an interest in Aikido and Iaido, both are traditional martial arts, but there is little on harming or hurting people. Here are two martial arts that are about cultivating you to be a better person. People are often surprised to find that Iaido is not about killing somebody with a sword, rather than it is about perfection and meditation, Zen. Aikido is non-competitive and there are no proper attacks, only defence and counter-attacks. Moves are taught to be done in a certain way and your throw and lock your partner in certain ways. Because of this, a lot of people pass off Aikido as no a real martial art or that it isn't realistic or practical.
However, realism and how one perceives something to be practical, is based on one's point of view. A lot of traditional martial arts teach partner work and applications, but these are always in a controlled manner. For example, you punch me, I deflect and punch you back. That sort of thing. However, these are examples used to demonstrate the nature and the theory of the application. This isn't sparring or combat. This isn't real, this is textbook and a real brawl on the streets will not be like this. In real life, one application may not be followed by another as prescribed in the form. In real life and not much is predicable.
One example is in competition pushing hands that we have in Taijiquan. Players may use a number of techniques and you have to counter and win. It is probably the most physically demanding thing in Taijiquan before you try full contact, which is probably the ultimate test of your practical abilities. Again, is this realistic and practical. In a way yes, but at the end of the day, nothing really prepares you for real combat, apart from experience and exposure in that sort of environment. Therefore it is futile and naive to say that Taijiquan and Aikido are useless, because you can't use it for cage fighting or MMA. It doesn't really matter which style of martial arts you use. Everything depends on the situation, how you respond and also importantly the techniques used. Therefore, it is not a matter of style, but of skill. Traditional martial arts isn't and was never about what people perceive it to be. But how realistic is cage fighting and MMA? If you are that good with your MMA, why don't you go to Afghanistan and be in a real fight?
Would 5000 years of Eastern wisdom be wrong at a drop of a hat?