Written by Suiping Yan
Tai Chi is one of the famous Chinese Internal martial arts. It is also the most effective meditative exercise for relaxation and maintaining physical and mental health. Tai Chi has been developed since ancient China and it is getting more and more popular today in the whole world.
Tai Chi is profoundly rooted in the classical Chinese philosophy: Yi Ching (the book of changes, written in 1,000 BC) and Taoism (a Chinese religion and philosophy). In this philosophy, Tai Chi means “Grand Ultimate” and it is the mother of Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang are the two basic elements that are opposite to each other. Like the “zero” and “one” in the computer systems, Yin and Yang can have countless combinations and changes to form and create every thing in the world. Yin Yang theory is used everywhere in Tai Chi practice.
The principles of Tai Chi are very unique in martial arts society. It exercises both externally and internally. Most of martial arts and physical exercises only employ the explicit and external forces created by one’s muscles, while Tai Chi emphasizes the implicit and internal power generated by one’s mind and intention. Tai Chi is practiced with a calm mind and relaxed body. The movements are soft and supple and the form is smooth and continuous. With the external and internal exercise, Tai Chi practice generates a strong flow of Qi (inner energy) and circulates it through the entire body, which can bring good health and strong power. That is why Tai Chi practitioners will be benefited both mentally and physically. The fighting strategy of Tai Chi is also very special, such as using soft to neutralize hard, adapting yourself to your opponent, leading the attack into empty, and using your opponent’s force to attack back.
It is not really known when and by whom Tai Chi was created. It is still a controversial issue in China. Most of people believe that Tai Chi was developed about 1,500 years ago by the Taoists lived in Wudang mountain area. After so many years and generations, Tai Chi has been developed and modified into a variety of styles. Nowadays, only a few people still know the ancient styles, like Tang-Dynasty styles and Wudang styles. Most of people practice the styles developed later. The most popular ones among them are Chen style, Yang Style, Wu style, and Sun Style.
Tai Chi consists of Tai Chi Chuan (Barehands) and Tai Chi Weapons (Tai Chi Sword is the most popular one). Tai Chi training and practice are composed of the following:
- Tai Chi Gong (still and moving meditation).
- Tai Chi form (Solo Sequence)
- Jin training and practice (Jin is a special term used by internal martial arts to identify various applications and effects of martial power).
- Applications of Tai Chi movements and its fighting techniques.
- Pushing hands training and practice.
- Fighting training and practice.
People who practice Tai Chi for fitness and health only need to learn and practice Tai Chi Gong and Tai Chi form. For those who learn Tai Chi as a martial art, all of the above training and practices are needed to reach their martial goals.
Tai Chi is a complex and highly developed art. It is not something can be understood easily and learnt quickly. There are two things are extremely important to your success. First of all, you must have a good teacher. It is not hard to find a Tai Chi teacher nowadays, but it is not easy to find a good teacher who really knows Tai Chi and can lead you to the right pass. Secondly, you must study hard and practice regularly. You not only need to spend enough time to practice, but also need to use your brain and heart to think, feel, be aware, and understand. Many practitioners have found that the more they learn, the further they want to go. Finally, Tai Chi will become a part of your life.