Tai Chi Chuan (Chinese, “grand ultimate boxing”), Chinese martial art and exercise regime in which all motions are performed slowly and purposefully. It is usually abbreviated to Tai Chi or Tai Ji.
Tai Chi has been practised in China for over 1,500 years but in the past only noblemen could learn the art from Daoist monks. This changed in the 18th century when a researcher and martial artist, Wang Zongyue of Shanxi, passed through a village owned by the Zhen family in Henan province and demonstrated the art of Tai Chi. His demonstration had such an effect on the Zhen family that he was asked to stay in the village and teach “his” art. Thus the first recorded passing on of Tai Chi was achieved. Since then Tai Chi has been practised by many people in all corners of the world.
Tai Chi is an art form consisting of a series of continuous steps aimed at balancing the Yin and Yang, the positive and negative life forces, through the combination of physical, mental, and spiritual motions which incorporates a system of meditative exercises (see Chinese Philosophy).
It is a continuous set of exercises which are performed slowly and are designed to promote healthful and harmonious bodily movement. If practised regularly and accurately under the tuition of a trained practitioner, then Tai Chi can prevent and heal ailments through the revitalization and the rejuvenation of the vital organs of the body. The exercises take 20 minutes or more to perform and many Tai Chi practitioners say that the slower the performance of the movements, the greater the benefits are to the individual. Tai Chi Chuan promotes and encourages meditation in motion while it circulates the balanced life fluid, sometimes referred to as the “Qi” (or “Chi”), through the body. There are several different styles of Tai Chi and these include the Chen style, the Yang style, the Wu style, the Sun style, and the Hao style.
Tai Chi is not only a meditative exercise, it must be remembered that it is also a martial art. Its movements are slow and purposeful and centre around the redirection of the attacker’s force.
“Tai Chi Chuan,” Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2005
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Tai Chi Links:
Tai Chi Finder – a wide range of resources including a comprehensive directory of UK classes.
Tai Chi Union for Great Britain – various resources including the largest collective of independent Tai Chi Chuan Instructors in the British Isles.
The Brocade Taoist Arts Association – Bristol based Lee Family Style Tai Chi Organisation