Can't you just see it? A horror movie where seemingly normal people just start doing Tai Chi, then they creep towards you to try and eat your brains. Hollywood, are you listening?
It is going to need a cause. The disease thing has been overdone. An electronic, cellphone-activated brain re-wiring app, perhaps. But for the deep chill down the spine, it should be caused by political indoctrination. Government hypnosis conspiracy using Tai Chi to eat people's brains. Dang.
We could call it Tai Chi Ghost Town. And we could film it in Chen Village. It was this real life news article about Chen Village as a Ghost Town that triggered this vision. It seems the government has paid a Billion dollars, or something similarly unaccountable, to build facades and hotels and fake temples to try and make Chen Village a tourist attraction. "The creepy side of soft-power" (T-shirt slogan?).
The village has a population of 40,000 people surrounded by farmland. It is, and has always been nowhere. It is not even technically called a 'village.' The Chinese term translated directly is 'ditch.' I checked the Thesaurus, the only word that negative for a village in English is Sh#t Hole. Sorry.
But the shocking thing in that article I linked to above is that 30,000 people in this 40,000 person village practice Tai Chi. That's what made me think of zombies. They are either being paid to stay there and "learn" or they are being forced to. Okay maybe something in between, but it is creepy.
Chen Tai Chi was not known to the outside world until Chen Fake and his students came to Beijing in 1928, just as the KMT (Nationalists) gained control over the country and instituted the Guo Shu concept of martial arts as a way to unify the National Body. I have no idea how many people were practicing Tai Chi in Chen Village before 1928, but the number 10 comes to mind, possibly as many as 100. By 1928 there must have been 1000s practicing Yang and Wu style Tai Chi around Shanghai and Beijing, but these numbers are tough to sort out.
But what would be much more fun, and this could be part of the movie, is to imagine what Chen Village was like in 1803. At that time Tai Chi was a theatrical martial art used for performing the role of Zhang Sanfeng. The Tai Chi form told the story of Zhang Sanfeng's canonization and it was used for organizing militias as well as creating shrines for the battle field dead. It was a combination of theater skills and martial skills wrapped up in a religion built around self-expression. This religion was nothing at all like Western religion. This particular cult was based on laugher and comedy. The 'god' of this cult was the Immoral Zhang Sanfeng, a comic hero. He was sexy guy, but like Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) a slob. He had magical control over smell so that he could switch back and forth between smelling like booze'n vomit one moment and jasmine flowers the next. He could even do this so that half the people in the room were attracted and the other half repulsed. Good movie material, no? Most notably he could fight without fighting. A group of people would try to striking him and they would end up missing him, but hitting each other.
What a beautiful religion this must have been. A trickster cult. There are lots of stories about Zhang Sanfeng giving out seeds and making plants grow too. So there was probably an agricultural component. Anyway, whatever it was, it was completely wiped out sometime between 1900 and Now, probably before World War Two. Who knows it might have been destroyed earlier. Starvation crushed that area numerous times in the second half of the 1800s.
Don't be a Tai Chi Zombie.