Tai Chi: A Brief Introduction

Tai Chi, Taijiquan, Yang style Tai Chi, Tai Chi Chuan

Yang Style Tai Chi ‘Snake Creeps Down’

 

  • Tai Chi is part of a wider tradition in China of physical, spiritual, and martial culture stretching back 2000 years or more.
  • Recent history points to Chen Village in Henan Province, China as the cradle of Tai Chi, with written records going back 400 years.
  • In the last 100 years the traditional combat elements have gradually given way to a greater emphasis on the mind and body health aspects of Tai Chi.
  • The main traditional styles are Chen style, Yang style, and Wu style. Even within these, there are many sub branches.
  • Many other styles have developed over the years, traditional ones keeping some of the martial art elements, while modern interpretations often have less connection to the original meaning and application of the movements.
  • Beginning instruction in Tai Chi often focuses on exercises to loosen the joints and muscles of the body, learning correct alignment and posture, and shifting the weight from foot to foot, while turning the hips and waist.
  • The two most important qualities in practicing Tai Chi are deep relaxation and centeredness. The unhurried pace helps us let go of tension, and find naturally good posture.
  • Meditation in movement is how some people describe Tai Chi; the mindful focus brings a sense of stillness within motion.
  • Tai Chi’s health benefits are widely recognized: hypertension, arthritis, back pain, and balance are a few of the issues for which Tai Chi is often recommended.
  • Do not be surprised to have some muscle soreness after doing Tai Chi – that means you have been working the muscles. Tai Chi develops the sense of balance, and is surprisingly strengthening, especially for the legs.
  • Tai Chi is sometimes called a form of Qi Gong (pronounced `chee gung’) – energy work that harmonizes body, breath, and mind. It has the effect of balancing the mental, emotional and physical energy systems.

 

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