Tai Chi, (Taijiquan) literally 'supreme ultimate fist', is a centuries-old Chinese discipline for health, relaxation, meditation, self-defense and self-cultivation.
Origins of Tai Chi
According to the Tai Chi mythology, it was conceived in the Song dynasty, in the 13th and 14th centuries by a Taoist known as Zhang San-Feng, who had studied martial arts at the Shaolin Temple and he was also a learned man in spiritual disciplines. During a retreat at Wudang Mountain, he observed the interplay between a crane and a snake as these fought each other. The swooping attacks of the bird and the elusive movements of the snake inspired him to create a form of martial art based on the interplay of Yin and Yang, as opposed to the practice of using strength to overcome an opponent.
Philosophy of Tai Chi
Tai Chi is rooted in Taoism, and in the I Ching, or Book of Changes, which advocates natural effort. The movements and principles of Tai Chi are derived from the complementary relationship between Yin and Yang, These are two fundamental forces that create and harmonize the Universe by their interaction.
The interaction of Yin and Yang is vital to the practice of Tai Chi since physically and mentally the practitioner is continually shifting between empty and full, soft and hard, stillness and motion, to achieve a proper and evolving equilibrium.
Schools of Tai Chi
Energetic, mindful, spiral movements
Gentle, graceful, large movements
Flexible, delicate, small movements
Agile, fluent, high movements
Principles of Tai Chi
Use will power, not muscular force
Benefits of Tai Chi
Improve posture and circulation. Generates greater energy and stamina. Relaxes nervous tension and tight muscles. Lubricates the joints and organs. Develops strength and flexibility. Acquires better breathing and balance. Relieves hypertension and pain.
Clarifies ones awareness and consciousness. Improves concentration and focus.
Restores intrinsic quietude and creative vitality.
Soothes oppressive stress and depression. Releases suppressed emotions and frustrations, Induces peace and happiness within.
Harmonizes oneness with creation. Heightens an appreciation of ones inner self and others.