Exploring MoQbara (Klingon Tai Chi)

Exploring MoQbara ("Klingon Tai Chi")

I've been a member of a cosplaying Star Trek fan group for several years. So it's probably not surprising that I became interested in costumes that were different from the usual StarFleet uniforms. I've also been a Tai Chi player for several years. So it's probably also not surprising that it caught my attention to see scenes in The Next Generation in which the crew were wearing different uniforms for something that looked an awful lot like a Tai Chi class. We find out that these are Worf teaching a class in a Klingon martial art called MoQbara (sometimes spelled mo'kbara).

So I was interested in the costume, but I figured if I was going to use it for cosplay, I should also figure out how to do the "play" part. So I needed to do some research. I went online and found out some interesting things, such as that they had a martial arts advisor on the set who developed the forms, but I didn't find anything that really answered my questions. There was some advice that you could fake doing MoQbara by just doing regular Tai Chi, but I didn't want to just fake it. So I went back to the source --the series-- and observed that there were several short snippets, in different episodes, but the only one that showed enough for it to look like a "form" (in the sense of movement through a series of postures) was in the "Birthright" episode. But even there we had the typical TV problem of only being able to see what the camera shows us. For example, it usually shows people just from the torso up, so we don't see what their feet are doing; also it occasionally moves away to show different people in the scene.

What I wanted to do was fill in those missing pieces, and I began to realize that I'd have to figure it on my own. I had enough Tai Chi training; I should be able to do this. So I watched and rewatched the section in "Birthright", analyzing what I saw, playing the movements, and trying to make educated guesses about what I was not seeing. It was a fun and interesting process, and, I think, a good exercise in Tai Chi "mind".

In any case, I was pretty pleased with the result. Right now, you can see my "first pass" video on YouTube here (it's unlisted). (I do hope to get a better video once I get the proper costume.)

As a side note, I'll observe that while some of the MoQbara snippets from other episodes look like they came from this form, not all of them do. But it seems reasonable that MoQbara, like Tai Chi, would have multiple forms, And indeed, Worf does use the plural "forms" when talking about it.


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