(Original post by Davsters)
I shall simply quote Wikipedia for my next couple of points. All taken off the Tai Chi wiki.
'The founder of the Kyokushinkai karate, Masutatsu 'Mas' Oyama, in his 1977 book Karate Baka Ichidai (Karate for life) himself admitted that he only experienced one defeat in his entire life as a karateka and that this defeat was by a tai chi chuan master. According to his own narration, after defeating the allegedly formidable Muay Thai fighter "Black Cobra" in Thailand, Oyama travelled to Hong Kong to challenge a certain Mr Chen, a man who was rumoured to be a great tai chi chuan master at that time. Although Mr Chen proved to be an old frail man who did not look like being a famous martial artist, he accepted the challenge. Mr Chen was diverting and thus neutralising all the karate attacks that Oyama was delivering. In turn, when Mr Chen was counter-attacking, it was with such force and speed and accuracy that Oyama mentions that he could not believe that they were coming from a man of this age and physique. Eventually, having exhausted all his techniques and seeing no sign of fatigue in the old man, Oyama gave up admitting that he could win over Mr Chen.'
Sorry for this block of test but it sums up what I'm trying to get across reasonably well:
'Even if that is the case regarding the acknowledgement of tai chi chuan, it is still argued that it is difficult today to draw an equivalence between the attested quality of other more comprehensive martial arts' professional athletes who are famous worldwide and the vast majority of tai chi chuan's practitioners these days. For instance, in MMA organisations such as UFC and Strikeforce, there has never been a fighter using exclusively or primarily tai chi chuan and becoming famous. For that matter, a fundamental difference should be considered. Professional fighters such those in the organisations mentioned above attain such a high quality partly at least as a result of being part of wider teams which include sparring coaches, personal trainers, kinesiologists, doctors, biomedical scientists, biomechanics specialists, physiotherapists, psychologists, dieticians, cooks, etc., and their training takes place in cutting-edge training facilities, gyms and labs.
On the contrary, the vast majority of the fighting-oriented tai chi chuan practitioners nowadays comprise only individual law enforcers or aficionados who have it just as a hobby. But with such important variables in training mode and training aim, it is pointless and unfair to make any comparison and contrast, or to consider individual fighters and to make generalisations for their martial arts which they practise. This state of affairs would not be the same if somehow comparability could be ensured. For example, it would be interesting to see the results if on the one hand there were committed tai chi chuan fighters who were systematically supervised by authoritative people catering for all their needs over an extensive period of time, and on the other hand MMA practitioners attending classes at a local school or exercising alone only with the idea to keep in some kind of relatively good physical condition.
But, even if respectively top fighters were found and asked to spar, there would be the need to decide on which martial art's rules would be adopted in that match, and of course they would not like to put their life to the line as this used to be tai chi chuan's idea back then. There would also still be no way to check how well those individuals would represent their martial art and therefore this would still be a match of a fighter against another fighter and not a match of a martial art against another martial art. Then, the most objective way to compare and contrast a martial art against another martial art would be to consider one martial art's syllabus against another martial art's syllabus. But then again that would yield only theoretical hypotheses and claims without empirical investigation and validation.'