I really feel like I need to write a book on this topic.
Tai Chi Chuan (Grand Ultimate Fist) is the system that evolved into Schuai Chiao and San Da. It's almost entirely throws and grappling. It is a very effective fighting system if taught and practiced martially.
The problem with Eastern Martial Arts is two fold.
1) They were created in a time when tyranny made it illegal to learn to fist fight and use weapons just as today tyrannies will not allow citizens to learn to ues or carry firearms. Therefore, fighting and grappling movements were exaggerated, hands were opened, and ideas that would never work together in a real fight were combined in forms.
Example - the Long Fist Posture - up on one leg, arm extended. I happen to know the arm motion is a very exaggerated combination that could be clear, jab, cross or jab, cross, liver shot or etc. But it you'd never do it in a real fight with these exaggerated arm motions and certainly not launching up onto one leg. But the exaggerated arm motion teaches the principle that, when changed into 3 quick arm movements, can be a number of combinations. The one legged thing? May as well train how well you can move onto one leg and stay rooted. It worked for me if a sparring partner managed to grap a kick or get a single leg. I was very hard to take down.
2) The second part of the problem - and this is huge - is the way the Asian Teachers thought and taught.
I was lucky to have a teacher show me a movement like the one I just described, and then break it down for me a couple different ways Western He encouraged me to practice the way for art, and the practical way to learn to fight. When 2 man drilling or sparring, he told us don't try it the way because it won't work. Well, Traditional Eastern Teachers believed that Techer Do, Student Repeat.
The Eastern Teachers rarely taught practical apllications. It was the student's job to figure it out. If the student couldn't figure it out, then the Teacher just assumed the student was a bad one. Well this shit went on in the name of tradition for so long students who eventually branched off and became teachers ... didn't know WTF the actual applications were.
AND THAT, MY FRIENDS, IS WHY TAI CHI CHUAN AND OTHER TMS'S SEEM INEFFECTIVE.
If taught correctly, drilled correctly with partners, and preasure tested, TMAs work. I KNOW Northern Long Fist and Tai Chi worked for me. I fought 3 cage fights in the year 2000 - 2001, and I've had two "street fights". I used the Chinese arts in every one - and this without relying on my State Champion ship in wrestling.
So to wrap this up - TMAs can work. There is only one real flaw in TMAs that is the TMA's fault - it's a slower way to learn. You learn stances and traditional drills and forms. Then you learn realistic drills and applications. Then you drill and spar. In MMA you skip the tradition and culture and go straight to realistic drilling. Therefore, if your only goal is to learrn to fight, then Kung-Fu, Tai Chi, etc is not for you. If you want a more cultural experience, TMAs can be great for that AND learning to fight. You just need and instructor who knows how to translate the yoga/dance like motions into practical skills.
I recommend Ramsey Dewey Q&A with The Coach. He has fought a real Tai Chi Master and said it was amazing. He uses a few moves from Tai Chi. He also says for the most part, Kung-Fu is useless but he is always open minded when a new trainee comes in and does something to him in sparring that works. Ramsey will say, Where'd you learn that?," and some times get an aanswer like, "Ba'Qua," or, "Hsing I."
Kind of hard for tai chi to evolve into chewy cow when the cow predates it. I’d hold up on the book, confusedcius