Tai Chi is one of the best known martial arts of the Internal systems from ancient China. Based on Qigong and martial art techniques from thousands of years ago, Chen Wangting developed the Chen Style Tai Chi around 1670.
It is characterised by contrasting and complimentary movements-slow and soft versus fast and hard. It contains explosive power and low stances.
Chen style is more difficult and physically demanding than Sun style.
Tai Chi is one of the most effective exercises for the health of mind and body.
Although an art with great depth of knowledge and skill, it can be easy to learn and soon delivers its health benefits.
For many, it continues as a lifetime journey.
What Is Thai Chi?
Tai chi is different from most other forms of movement and exercise because it’s a way to work directly with one’s qi, or life force.
Qi, Life Force. Only the living are imbued with qi. A lack of qi leaves one sluggish and dull—and in its complete absence, dead.
With an abundance of qi, one feels vibrant, alive, and alert to the possibilities of life.
Tai Chi Develops Qi. Tai chi movements are a way to develop and to increase one’s life force. But understanding how this happens can be daunting.
Explanations are often filled with unpronounceable Chinese words and equally difficult concepts.
The first Tai Chi secret is that choosing the appropriate tai chi style for your goals is very important.
In fact, choosing a tai chi style is one of the most important decisions you’ll make/or don’t make on your journey to learn tai chi.
Not ‘consciously’ choosing would be like attending a university and not caring what degree you studied.
For most of the public, tai chi is just one subject, much like a subject area like math or literature.
Yet to the more experienced tai chi practitioner there are many styles of tai chi and choosing the right style is a very important thing to consider before you begin.
Now you may luck out and study a style that matches your goals; then again you may not resulting in frustration or even worse injury.
When the Western world thinks of “martial arts,” it inevitably thinks of kicking, punching, fighting, and body contact.
Not slow, rhythmic, and meditative body movements designed to enhance relaxation, inner calm, and peace.
But that’s what the martial art of tai chi is all about: slow, rhythmic, meditative movements designed to help you find peace and calm.
In this article, we will cover the history, philosophy, and benefits of tai chi, as well as how and where to get started, and more.
Another aim of Tai Chi is to foster a calm and tranquil mind, focused on the precise execution of these exercises.
Learning to do them correctly provides a practical avenue for learning about such things as balance, alignment, fine-scale motor control, a rhythm of movement, the genesis of movement from the body’s vital centre, and so on.
Thus the practice of Tai Chi can in some measure contribute to being able to better stand, walk, move, run, etc. in other spheres of life as well.
Many practitioners notice benefits in terms of correcting poor postural, alignment or movement patterns which can contribute to tension or injury.
Furthermore, the meditative nature of the exercises is calming and relaxing in and of itself.
The Philosophy of Tai Chi
Though described as an exercise—even the Perfect Exercise—tai chi is more than a simple exercise.
Tai chi is a framework for dealing with different forces and interactions in life.
It might even be called the art of yielding.
A tai chi martial artist yields to the force of an incoming fist, and may then use the attacker’s force against him.
The interaction is not about meeting force directly with force.
Tai Chi teaches us the importance of balance and harmony in all things.
We begin to see unity in diversity – that everything in creation operates according to the same basic principles and is essentially the same.
We can see that all people and all living creatures are of equal value and we are all part of an integrated whole, like threads in a tapestry.
This leads to greater tolerance and respect for each other and for the planet as a whole.
The Tai Chi Symbol
The philosophy of tai chi revolves around cycles and balance.
The balance of yin and yang–commonly simplified as feminine and masculine–and the constant shifts between these energies is integral to tai chi.
These principles are represented in the tai chi symbol.
The Tai Chi symbol shows the eternal motion and interplay of yin and yang around the central point of stillness.
Each contains a little of its opposite (the “eyes” of the fishes) and as each reaches its extreme, its opposite arises again.
The circle enclosing all of this represents the Tao.
Interestingly, subatomic particles created in the depths of space always emerge as pairs of opposites. It is this phenomenon which gives rise to Hawking radiation from black holes as one of the pair crosses the event horizon and is captured by the black hole while the other remains outside and becomes part of the radiated heat around it. Stephen Hawking has likened this to yin and yang at this fundamental level of the universe.
Yang and Yin Energies Arise. Out of the void, and through the separation and differentiation of the tai chi creative force, two primordial and complementary energies arose: the yang and the yin.
Yang. The yang energies are associated with the radiant light of the sun as well as its fiery heat. Yang energies are expansive and shoot outward.
Yin. Yin energies are associated with the dark of the moon and closing inward for rest, regeneration, regrowth, and creativity.
Complementary Energies. Yin-Yang energies are often thought of as dualities or polar opposites. Dark-light, cold-hot, female-male, matter-spirit, earth-heaven, down-up, soft-hard, closing-opening, and yielding-aggressive are other ways of characterizing these forces.
However, one can also think of these energies as complementary, and share a common source.
Both are equally good. One cannot exist without the other.
Neither is better than the other. This equality and interplay between the yin and the yang is depicted by the equal sizes of the dark swirling yin and that of the swirling white yang.
In the next page, you will find the five major styles of Tai Chi explained.