What is Tai Chi Chuan? (or T’ai Chi Ch’uan)

By on 09/15/2014
tai chi

Tai Chi

tai chi

what is tai chi

For many people, their first experience of Tai Chi (or Tai Chi Chuan) is the vision of elderly Chinese practitioners performing this amazing martial art at a slow, gentle pace, oblivious to the modern world around them. In fact, even though Tai Chi’s roots go back hundreds of years, it is a form of exercise that can benefit people of all ages and abilities.

In this day and age, our general idea of exercise is something that works our musculature and cardiovascular systems as hard and fast as possible, while the principles of Tai Chi are exactly the opposite.  Interestingly, even though most tai chi movements (forms) are slow and graceful, they still are amazingly beneficial to your health and overall well-being.  The movements of tai chi are relatively easy to learn, with proper form they put little stress on the body’s joints, and with regular practice the practitioner will reap the full benefits of Tai Chi.

Tai Chi is classified as an internal or a soft martial art, as opposed to the external or hard arts that are more frequently associated with martial combat. The core philosophy behind Tai Chi is the principle of Yin and yang, that there must always be a balance in our lives in general like soft/hard, male/female and active/passive and the belief that strong and powerful movements can be countered and defeated by soft and graceful ones. The deliberate slow movements associated with Tai Chi are meant to enhance the practitioner’s chi (qi), which is another term for the life force that flows through the body. The Tai Chi practitioner uses the movements to bring balance and harmony between the mind and body, while controlling the breathing and clearing the mind.

Because of the nature of the movements that are performed, Tai Chi practice is not limited to the young or people who have practiced for many years.  In fact, it can be practiced by seniors, the elderly, and even the infirm; there are no barriers regarding who can participate and benefit from the art. It has even been incorporated into the activities in many extended care and retirement establishments, where they have adapted the movements so they can be practiced seated, allowing those less-mobile to benefit from it.

Over the centuries many styles of Tai Chi that have developed and the movements of some of these styles are still closely linked to martial art combat movements.  Even though they are performed at a slow, calm, deliberate pace, they still resemble a fighting style. Pushing hands is an example of such a style.  In fact, pushing hands (or “push hands”) is a tai chi exercise practiced by two tai chi players, that develops a heightened sensitivity and awareness between two practitioners; all by using their hands to learn to “feel their opponents energy” or chi.

For more information on “What is tai chi” you can check out this article at Web MD http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/tc/tai-chi-and-qi-gong-topic-overview



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