What is Tai Chi?
A form of traditional Chinese soft style martial art.
Tai Chi (Taijiquan or t’ai chi) is a Chinese health exercise and martial art practiced daily by millions of people around the world for its health, relaxation, and self-defense benefits. As a health exercise, Tai Chi helps to:
- Improve balance
- Lower blood pressure
- Promote relaxation
As a martial art, Tai Chi uses the method of “softness overcomes hardness.”
Tai chi chuan is generally classified as a form of traditional Chinese martial arts of the Neijia (soft or internal) branch. It is considered a soft style martial art — an art applied with internal power.
Since the first widespread promotion of Tai Chi’s health benefits in the early twentieth century, it has developed a worldwide following among people with little or no interest in martial training, for its benefit to health and health maintenance.
Medical studies of Tai Chi support its effectiveness as an alternative exercise and a form of martial arts therapy. Focusing the mind solely on the movements of the form purportedly helps to bring about a state of mental calm and clarity.
The physical techniques of Tai Chi Chuan are described in the Tai Chi classics as being characterized by the use of leverage through the joints based on coordination in relaxation, rather than muscular tension.
The slow, repetitive work involved in the process of learning how that leverage is generated gently and measurably increases, opening the internal circulation of chi (life energy) and increasing circulation.
Thus, the blood supply to muscles increases, and more blood flow means there are more nutrients available to help cells and tissues regenerate, and speed up healing.
The core training involves two primary features: the first being the solo form (ch’üan or quán), a slow sequence of movements which emphasize a straight spine, abdominal breathing and a natural range of motion; the second being different styles of pushing hands (tui shou) for training movement principles of the form in a more practical way.
Tai Chi Chuan – the solo form – is complete, natural range of motion over the center of gravity. Accurate, repeated practice of the solo routine can:
- Retrain posture
- Encourage circulation throughout the body
- Maintain joint flexibility
- Promote balance and coordination