Tai Chi is a philosophy and methodology by which Chinese practitioners understood nature. The concept of Tai Chi represents the essence of a five-thousand-year old Chinese base of knowledge, and it is a wisdom concerning medicine, philosophy and the art of war. The definition of Tai Chi can be thought of as Yin-Yang or change. Yin and Yang are the attributes of two opposite aspects of phenomena in nature. The original meaning of Yin and Yang is simple, referring to facing towards and away from the sun. Facing towards the sun refers to Yang and facing away from the sun is considered Yin. The definition was extended to mean warmth and cold; upper and lower, right and left, inner and outer in orientation, activeness and stillness in moving state.
Through long term observation of life, people have gradually found there generally exist two opposite aspects of Yin-Yang in everything, and further recognized that the mutual action of the two promotes formation, development and change. Consequently, Yin-Yang is used to explain many kinds of phenomena in life and nature, and it lays the foundation for the development of Yin-Yang theory. Tai Chi philosophy emphasizes that man and nature are an integral part of each other. Harmony and coexistence grows out of balance, and one should maintain an integral harmony and coexistence by balancing the relationship between ourselves, nature, others, and society.
The philosophy of Yin and Yang is widely adopted by different religions, and also by those with no religion, such as I-Ching, Taoism and Chinese medicine.
Tai Chi is a way of life.
The movements of Tai Chi
Martial Arts masters created the movements of Tai Chi which are based on the concept of the Yin-Yang symbol and called it Tai Chi. The Yin-Yang symbol predates the Tai Chi movements or Tai Chi martial art. There are plenty of interesting and controversial stories about who created the Tai Chi movements first.
However, Tai Chi has been practiced and adapted throughout the years to encompass many different styles, such as Wu Dang Tai Chi, Yang-style, Cheng-style, Sun-style, Hu-style and Wu-style Tai Chi and so on. All styles of Tai Chi training involve five elements, internal force, which includes qi gong, meditation; pushing hands; self defence techniques; weapons and solo hand routines, known as forms.
Martial art Tai Chi and maintaining wellness Tai Chi
Tai Chi was designed for martial art applications. Now, it also can be used as a way to maintain wellness, as it involves meditation, balance, awareness, energy flow and more effective training methods that are based on Yin-Yang principles. Besides being a martial art application and maintaining wellness, it can even be used in performances which include more visual impact movements. As a result, students have many options when it comes to choosing the right Tai Chi style to learn, no matter age or skill level.
A responsible Tai Chi teacher will always remind their students to keep in mind their learning direction. Does the student want to learn martial art Tai Chi, maintaining wellness Tai Chi or performance Tai Chi?
If you want to learn martial art Tai Chi, you must learn all of these elements. The martial art Tai Chi has more requirements than the maintaining wellness Tai Chi when it comes to combat skills, because the goal of martial art Tai Chi is defense and attack. In a martial art Tai Chi class, the instructor may take more time to correct your movements, so your skills are precise to conquer or be victorious over your opponent. That is why Tai Chi movements are very slow when you practice the forms, because there is a martial art application behind every movement. It will help the practitioner form a conditioned response of offensive and defensive movements by practicing the martial art applications slowly.
If you just plan to learn the steps of maintaining wellness Tai Chi, you can get started by learning a few simple movements and solo hand routines which can be practiced alone, or pushing hands which can be practiced with a partner.
The Benefits of Doing Tai Chi
Tai Chi is not only a low intensity aerobic exercise but in addition, it is also a slow, graceful and relaxed exercise that produces a flowing rhythm. This regular aerobic exercise is somewhat similar to endurance training, which is the best way of enhancing the function of the heart and lungs. Tai Chi may lower cholesterol levels and improve the circulation of oxygen. It has been found that, as one kind of aerobic exercise, Tai Chi improves heart and respiratory health and helps to reduce unnecessary weight in a healthy and effective manner.
Tai Chi is a body-mind exercise which employs gentle body movement and a relaxed mental meditation. It not only improves physical health but helps to maintain emotional well-being.