Tai-Chi, an ancient Chinese art for health and relaxation, is the least know of the martial arts. Referred to as “meditation in motion,” it is based on the Taoist Yin and Yang philosophy: the attraction of opposing, yet complimentary forces which create harmony in nature.
The exact origin of Tai-Chi, a series of form or set sequence movements, is unknown but believed to date back 500 years to a remote Chinese village. There are four main family styles: Chen, Yang, Hao and Wu Chuan. Once upon a time, family styles were the sole property of a single family who taught it exclusively to members of their household. While Chen is the oldest, Yang is the most commonly practiced in the West.
A question frequently asked by beginner Tai-Chi students is: “How many movements in a “form?” The simple answer is: one. Tai-Chi is a single, circular movement, where each sequence flows smoothly, gently, gracefully into the next one.
The main difference between styles is the speed and pace of performance and the way the body holds the poses in terms of posture and intent. Some exhibit large movement or low stances, others rely on smaller movements and higher stances. All share a characteristic smooth, flowing motion that develops from the movement of the waist, driven by the power of the legs exerted against the ground. The softness of the relaxed upper body, together with the driving power of the lower body, gives a Tai-Chi practitioner’s body the appearance of whips or snakes in motion.
Anyone can do Tai-Chi; there is no physical limitation and is suitable for all ages.
It can be practiced in any place, any time. It is an exercise system which gently increases the body’s range of movement, helping increase body awareness, while exercising internal organs. It is the combination of mental and body rhythmical activity; joining strength exercise with alert relaxation. The purposeful slowness of movements aids relaxation, stress reduction, body balance and coordination.