Tai Chi

Tai Chi is a centuries old Chinese discipline for health, relaxation, balance, flexibility, strength, meditation, self-defense and self-cultivation. It improves circulation, balance, coordination, and helps relax and strengthen the muscular and nervous systems.

The stretching movements make the body limber, tone up muscles, and help release tension.

As a meditation, Tai Chi is a way of harmonizing body and mind dynamically.

Tai Chi is referred to as moving meditation. The mind should be as still as if you are in sitting meditation, but you should still be able to actively circulate your Chi.

You should look centered and calm from the out side, but with in is like a raging sea.

When you are attacked you should still be calm and aware.

When you have learned this you are able to respond in a calm and natural way to an opponents moves.

Tai Chi is change and you should follow and respond naturally to the opponents every subtle move and situation.

Tai-Chi Chuan is an art shared from the rich cultural heritage of China.

Many tales have been told about its origin, one of which says that about 800 years ago there was a certain elixir maker named Zhang Sanfeng who lived in the Wudang Mountains.

One night he dreamt that he was taught Chinese boxing by Great Emperor Xuan Wu, after which he went about disseminating the art among the common people.

Thus, Tai-Chi Chuan was said to have been presented by a deity and handed down by supernatural beings.

From available historical data, it appears that Tai-Chi Chuan was first devised in Chenjiagou, Wenxian county in Henan Province, some 300 years ago in the late Ming and early Qing Dynasties.

Tai-Chi Chuan followed the principles of subduing the vigorous by the soft, adapting oneself to the style of others and overcoming a weight of 1,000 carries by four ounces.

In general, some movements were energetic while others were gentle, some rapid while others slow, and one movement followed another 111 uninterrupted, rhythmic harmony, like a flowing stream.

In the past century, Tai-Chi Chuan underwent changes, with movements becoming more relaxed, smooth, even, and graceful like floating clouds and flowing streams.

As a result, Tai-Chi Chuan has become popular with men, women, young and old alike.

Tai Chi is a centuries old Chinese discipline for health, relaxation, balance, flexibility, strength, meditation, self-defense and self-cultivation.

It improves circulation, balance, coordination, and helps relax and strengthen the muscular and nervous systems.

The stretching movements make the body limber, tone up muscles, and help release tension.

As a meditation, Tai Chi is a way of harmonizing body and mind dynamically.

Tai Chi, as it is practiced in the west today, can perhaps best be thought of as a moving form of yoga and meditation combined.

Tai Chi promotes the flow of vital energy (chi) and replaces stiffness with flexibilty and good body coordination. This helps fighters to effectively reach the highest level in the art of self-defense.

Practiced daily and properly as an exercise, it promotes one's mental traquility, improves physical fitness, increases blood circulation to its fullest capacity, and provides the tissues of various organs with the maximun amount of oxygen."

The practical exercises of Tai Chi are also situated in a wider philosophical context of Taoism.

This is a reflective, mystical Chinese tradition first associated with the scholar and mystic Lao Tsu, an older contemporary of Confucius.

He wrote and taught in the province of Honan in the 6th century B.C. and authored the seminal work of Taoism, the Tao Te Ching. As a philosophy, Taoism has many elements but fundamentally it espouses a calm, reflective and mystic view of the world steeped in the beauty and tranquillity of nature.

There are a number of so-called forms - sometimes also called 'sets' - which consist of a sequence of movements.

In the early history of Tai Chi, most of the information on the art was held tightly with in the particular Tai Chi families. It was only taught to the immediate family members including the daughter�s in-law, but never to the daughter. The reason being that the daughter married outside the family and no one outside the family was told anything about the fighting arts of that family.

Even this information was never written down, but was taught in poems or in songs from Master to teacher, from teacher to student. Because of this, much of the information has been tainted slightly and it takes a little know how to sift through the information to get the real meaning of what is being taught.

In the beginning Tai Chi Chuan was taught as a martial art and when it actually started is a little vague. Some people say it is five or six hundred years old and still some say that it can be traced back to around 1100 B.C. We do know that ancient Taoist breathing technics have influenced it.

These where apparently introduced by a Taoist monk by the name of Chung Shen-fen from Wu Tang Mountain sometime in the thirteenth century. It was his hope that Tai Chi practitioners would enjoy good health and longevity by practicing Tai Chi, and that the art be practiced as more than just a fighting skill.

The art is based on the principles of the Yin/Yang symbol, called Tai Chi in Chinese meaning "Grand Ultimate". Tai Chi Chuan meaning "Grand Ultimate Fist".

This symbol relates to the constant changes in Tai Chi Chuan from hard to soft, full and empty, open and close ect. Also the "Wu-hsing, the five elements of Fire (Fou), Earth (Tu), Metal (Gin), Water (Sui) and Wood ( Moo) which relate to the five basic stances in the form, Advance(Metal), Retreat (Wood), Look Left (Water), Look Right (Fire) and Central equilibrium (Earth). These are the five characters around the Yin/Yang symbol.

The hand technics are influenced from the tri-grams of the "I-Ching" or Book of Changes and consist of eight basic changes: P�eng (Ward Off), Lu (Roll Back), Chi (Press), An (Push), Ts�ai (Pull), Leih (Split), Tsou (Elbow), K�ao (Shoulder). The Five Foot and Eight Hand technics make up the "Thirteen Postures" of Tai Chi.

Many of these movements are originally derived from the martial arts (and perhaps even more ancestrally than that, from the natural movements of animals and birds) although the way they are performed in Tai Chi is slowly, softly and gracefully with smooth and even transitions between them.

The eight sets of lines around the outside of this symbol are called the " Ba-Qua" or Eight Tri Grams. They are made up of Yin and Yang lines, a Yin line being a broken line , and Yang, a full line .

All the thirteen postures of Tai Chi Ch�uan must not be treated lightly. The meaning of life originates at the waist.

The thirteen postures of Tai Chi Chuan are the foundation base to this art. It is important that students be shown and trained in them. Yang Cheng-fu tells us in his Ten Important Points "that the waist is the commander and that all movement must pass through the waist". The waist is also where we must turn to generate Chi and storing it at the Tan Tien.

When moving from substantial to insubstantial, one must take care that the Chi is circulated throughout the entire body with out the slightest hindrance.

When moving the body through the movements, it is important that you are aware of your changes from insubstantial to the substantial and that the Chi is still being transported to various part of the body. To do this you must be very relaxed and your mind clear so as Chi can flow easily without any hindrance. When this happens you have health. When it stagnates ill health will follow.

Find the movement in the stillness, even stillness in movement. Even when you respond to the opponent�s movement, show the marvel of the technics and fill him with wonder.

Pay attention to every posture and study its purpose. That way you will gain the art without wasting your time and energy.

Study wide and deep and with determination and seriousness and that will determine your degree of success. To understand each posture you must study and research its nature and purpose then to acquire your goal is easy.

In every movement you must pay attention so as the heart (mind) stay on the waist, then completely relax the abdomen, and your Chi will rise up.

When you commence your Tai Chi form, allow your mind to sink to your waist and focus on Tan Tien (Yi Sou Tan Tien). When your abdomen is relaxed and your mind clear, the Chi will rise up and permeate your whole body.

Your Tail Bone should be centered and upright so as your spirit (Shen) rises to the top of the head. The top of the head is suspended and the entire body is relaxed and light.

Your tailbone should be straight, but do not exert force to acquire this, it should be natural for to force this will cause the tailbone to push forward. The back is straight with an insubstantial energy lifting up through the top of the head.

Carefully study and pay attention when doing research, extension and contraction, opening and closing follow their freedom.

This point relates to pushing hands. Contract to neutralise the opponent�s power, and at the same time close to store your Jin (chin) then extend and open to emit your Jin. To do this your technic must be natural and free flowing to follow you opponent�s intention. This allows you to stick and follow and to defeat your opponent. If you don�t research these technics you will never gain the key to Tai Chi Ch�uan.

To enter the door and to be led along the way, you need to have oral instruction; practice without ceasing, and the technic is achieved by self-study.

It is important that you understand that a teacher is needed to learn the art. There are to many subtleties and it is easy to miss what is being emphasized in a movement.