What is Tai Chi?
What is Tai Chi? Tai Chi Chuan is the activity of harnessing the Chi, letting the life energy flow
Tai Chi Chuan is an ancient Chinese internal martial art dating over 400 years, its exact origins are unknown and there are various different stories. Who created Tai Chi Chuan is not conclusive or why some say it was primarily a form of self-defence as China was a lawless society others believe the monks needed a way to improve their physical ability to match their mental strength. It is inevitably a form of movement that both has martial applications for defence, but also improves health and stimulates the flow of energy. In today’s society it is best known as a method for relaxation, means of improving health or simply a gentle form of exercise.
There are five original styles of Tai Chi Chuan and many variants, each named after the different families in China that developed them. The styles are Chen, Yang, Wu, Wu Hao and Sun. The differences between these styles are the different paces, stances, and movements employed in them. However they all still have the same basic principles underlying them. Tai Chi, T’ai ji, tiji etc there are different spelling but they all refer to the same form of movement.
It is a series of choreographed slow soft flowing movements that have a participant always in a state of motion from the start to the end of a sequence. Each movement has its own name within the choreographed sequence of movements. There are principles which are applied to the form or framework of movements, these range from corresponding breath with either the inhalation or exhalation of a deep, gentle breath, aligning the posture, smooth continuous movement, pushing against resistance, maintaining mental awareness and focus, relaxing the joints, moving from a point known as the Dan Tian which relates to the core of the body. This coordination of movement and breath is believed to free the flow of “chi, a life-force energy that when blocked, can cause stress and illness. By improving the link between a person’s mind and body, Tai Chi chuan re-establishes natural harmony.
We teach several of Dr Paul Lam's Tai Chi for Health programs. All forms of Tai Chi are good for your health, but what we particularly like about Dr Lam's programs is he has made Tai Chi accessible to all. In his forms, he has removed the lower stances and high kicks that some forms have. He has developed forms that are quick to pick up and not as complex as some. It uses smooth gentle flowing movements designed to improve agility. His Tai Chi for Arthritas program uses Sun Style tai chi, with gentle postures and high stances that make it suitable for all. Other programs are made up different styles and mixtures of these specifically for a health reason and to be suitable for practice by all.