About T’ai-Chi (Brief Description)

Characters for Tai Chi

Above: T’ai Chi in Chinese.

T’ai Chi (also Tai Chi or Taiji) is a meditative exercise based on Taoist philosophy and other ancient Chinese principles of health and healing, spirituality, and self-defense. Its natural, relaxed movements promote inner calm and improve self-awareness, balance, and coordination. Because of its richness, T’ai Chi is called “the pearl of Chinese knowledge and culture.” The philosophy involves the concepts of yin and yang, non-action, being in the moment, and non-intention. When T’ai-Chi movement is taught primarily with a self-defense emphasis, it is often called T’ai Chi Ch’uan (also Taijiquan). Chuan (quan) is Chinese for fist.

There are several styles of T’ai-Chi movement: Yang, Chen, Wu, Sun, etc. All styles incorporate a series of slow, continuous, meditative postures, each seamlessly transforming into the next. Students are first taught the movements, one by one. Next the movements are corrected and given increasing meaning in terms of the philosophy and health benefits. Later, students who are interested are taught a two-person exercise called push-hands. Other forms taught are T’ai-Chi sword, broadsword, and a two-person form. The sword and broadsword, which are outmoded weapons, are studied for self-development. Doing sword movement adds a dimension to solo movement, namely that of giving “life” and natural movement to an inanimate object.

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