Tai Chi is an extensive and comprehensive art form
Tai Chi encompasses many different styles, ideas and ways of practicing – some slow, others fast, some using low or high postures. For some, it is a martial art, while others practice for health or relaxation.
With so many variations and at times seemingly opposite approaches, the question is what is Tai Chi?
The answer doesn’t necessarily lie in the outer look, although there are certain qualities that do appear externally to the trained eye.
There is one thing that threads or connects all of the different aspects together and that is its principles.
The same principles are the basis for many other facets of traditional Chinese culture. Including Chinese medicine, architecture, feng shui, calligraphy, and brushwork.
Dating back 5000 years they can be found in the Yellow Emperors Classic on Internal Medicine (Nei Jing).
The Taoists believe that all phenomena conform to and abide by the law of Tao. The Tao being the principle of all existence of life itself. The dynamic of this existence is constant change and variation, created by the continuous interaction of two opposing forces called yin and yang.
Being healthy, in Chinese medical theory, means that the forces of yin and yang within the body are in a well-balanced state. Disturb the balance and illness occurs. From a health perspective, the aim of Tai Chi is to restore and maintain this balance.
Through the daily practice of forms and partner work, we cultivate our awareness, sensitivity and balance, which transforms the way we move, stand, act and interact in all aspects of our life.
As we develop and refine the principles we can create a state of aliveness – physically, energetically and spiritually.
How Tai Chi can benefit health.
Usually, as people grow older their muscles and joints stiffen and their inner energy decreases.
With Relaxation as its basis, Tai Chi can lead us to naturalness and harmony in life.
The initial exercises of Tai Chi were carefully designed and refined over hundreds of years to counter the effects of age and further, create a surplus of energy in the body ensuring physical and psychological health and supporting spiritual growth.
All tension related physical and psychological problems gradually yield to Tai Chi practice, and many other diseases also improve or be completely cured as the inner energy accumulates.
Tai Chi is about the relationship with your environment, with those around you and probably most importantly with yourself. Some students describe the feeling when they start to realise the principles as something familiar, like coming home.
Tai Chi is one of the few disciplines where young and old can practice together, where, as you get older you can continue to improve your skill in all aspects and levels, whether as a martial art, for health.
It only requires an attitude of genuine enquiry, patience and perseverance.
The principles of the art, although simple, are truly profound.
The method as relayed clearly in the classics has been developed and passed from teacher to student through countless generations.
Tai Chi has survived the test of time. The principles are as relevant and powerful today because they work.