What is Tai Chi? What are the benefits of Tai Chi? What is the
philosophy and history of Tai Chi? How long does it take to master Tai
Chi? Why would I want to learn Tai Chi?
Over the years T'ai Chi Ch'uan has amassed a huge following. Today
the term T'ai Chi Ch'uan is used to name the martial art discipline and
the term T'ai Chi is used to name the elegant and graceful exercise
Tai Chi is a tranquil and uplifting holistic movement
therapy which improves body, mind and spirit.
Essentially, Tai Chi consists of a series of circular movements that
appear easy to the novice but takes a lifetime or longer to perfect.
Tai Chi is not only a form of exercise or a choreographed art form, it
is a way of bringing together the mind spirit and body in a fluid series
of movements that centers and balances the whole being. Tai Chi is often
described as easy to learn but impossible to master.
Tai Chi is part of the Taoist teachings which follows the belief that
man is part of the natural things in the universe and should therefore
not go against the workings of the Tao. Man has a place in the universe
and must strive to not disrupt this equilibrium. This unity with all
things including mind, spirit and body is reflected in the smooth,
balanced and focused forms of the exercise regime.
Tai Chi has been practiced in China for centuries as a form of
martial art, an exercise and to improve whole of being energy flow. The
fluid and graceful movements (called forms) of Tai Chi exercises every
part of the body while conserving energy with economical movements where
none are superfluous. Because it requires that the whole being moves as
a single focused entity or force it forges stronger links between mind,
spirit and body.
The origins of Tai Chi go as far back as Taoism itself. There are
many theories and legends of why, when and where Tai Chi originated but
the discipline as it is practiced today is as much a way of life as it
is a therapeutic exercise regime.
Tai Chi endeavors to increase physical, mental and spiritual strength
and harmony by improving internal energy flow (called Qi) throughout all
aspects of body mind and spirit.
Tai Chi can be practiced by everyone. For years it was used to help
convalescing warriors regain their strength and although still
recommended for this purpose it is now practiced as a form of
preventative health care to prolong youthful vigor and strength. There
are no age limits, all that is required is the commitment to improve.
Poise, balance and focus are central to the teachings of T'ai Chi and
even the Masters of the discipline are constantly striving to improve
smoothness and liquidity of movement as well as focus. The
body may move slowly in circular and complimentary movement with no
overextension or waste of effort but it is always perfectly balanced,
perfectly fluid (with no jerks or pauses) only coming to rest briefly on
one or the other leg before the next form follows.
A major benefit of Tai Chi is that it is a zero impact form of
exercise. We are becoming increasingly aware that high impact physical
activities, although beneficial in youth and in the short term, has long
term risk of damage to internal organs and joints that eventually
overwhelms the benefits gained. With Tai Chi those risks are
dramatically reduced, if not eliminated, and it has the huge added
benefit of involving all of the being striving for improvement of not
only the body but the spirit and mind too.
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