Tai chi embodies my favourite traits of athleticism. There are no races to win, no times to beat, no points to score, no one-up-man-ship of your fellow practitioners. There is no uniform to wear and no ladder of skill to climb if you don't want to. It would take a lifetime of intensive practice to use it in combat. It is beautiful, graceful, challenging and soothing. It makes me feel strong, relaxed and in control. It can be practiced anywhere. My favourite teacher taught me that I could do tai chi while standing at a bus stop - going through the form in my mind while timing my breathing to the movements. One teacher tried to get me to be competitive about trying to memorize the sword form. I quit his class a week later and found another, where I carefully hid my previous experience.
The principles of tai chi appeal to me. Yielding is a source of strength. Physical energy is conserved by deflecting it back at an opponent. Combat practice feels like dancing. To be an adept at tai chi would be the highest athletic achievement for me.