Originally Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art, that has been practised for centuries. It is based on a series of positions and movements which are performed slowly and smoothly. Tai Chi optimises health and harmonises the cooperation between body and mind by promoting the flow of Chi: the energy of life. The underlying principles are: relaxation, movement from the centre (Tan Tien), the distinction between Yin and Yang and building up positions.
The old Chinese philosophers believed that in the beginning the universe was empty and unlimited. That state they called Wu Chi. Out of Wu Chi developed movement and stillness. Yang as opposed to Yin. The universe was created by the combined action of Yin and Yang. The state comprising both aspects is called Tai Chi. Tai Chi Chuan was developed by a 14th century Chinese monk. He had witnessed a crane fighting a snake in a pool. He saw the animals fight with yielding but not surrendering movements. From the taoistic principles of balance between stillness and movement (Yin and Yang: Chinese philosophy) he developed Tai Chi Chuan.
Tai Chi exercises effect balance in your movements and actions and balance between you and the world around. In this present world. Tai Chi can be practised by young and old. In a sound body all parts of the kinetic system (muscles and sinews, skeleton and joints) are supple, springy, strong and flexible. With a correct carriage this is utilised optimally. Just look at a baby. See how it moves. The smooth, natural movements are an expression of freely flowing energy. But at the same time these movements generate energy too. Owing to all kinds of causes in the course of our life our life energy often decreases. In our dynamic world it is not easy to combine an active life with adequate attention to one’s own health, such as sufficient physical exercise and correct breathing.
In practising Tai Chi blockades and tensions are gently freed. Metabolism and combustion of fat are activated and the intake of oxygen is strongly improved as well. The body is detoxicated and the immune system strengthened. Even the organs undergo an internal massage. It decreases your stress, prevents among other things high blood pressure, heart and vascular diseases and osteoporosis, improves your concentration and your self - confidence and balances your emotional life.
Tai Chi Chuan is a form of Tai Chi in which the movements of the hands (fists) are central. There are also forms in which weapons are used. The use of a weapon from the principles of Tai Chi makes into an extension piece of the body. Body and weapon become one. Examples of Tai Chi weapons are sword, sabre, fan, spear or sticks.
Pushing Hands, T’ui Shou, pushing your hands, is doing Tai Chi in pairs in which the slow pushing and defence movements of the form are put into practice.
San Shou means free - style fighting and is practised as Tai Chi boxing. This is relatively little done in the west. Grandmaster William Chen is famous for his boxing performance
Chi Kung is the part of Tai Chi that aims at optimal health. By bringing your entire body into a natural wave - like motion the Tai Chi and Chi Kung exercises activate the circulation of energy. Tai Chi is only effective if you have knowledge of Chi Kung. Chi Kung training is a necessary part of Tai Chi Chuan. Otherwise the movements remain “empty”. Tai Chi is Chi Kung, it is true, but Chi Kung is not Tai Chi. Chi Kung is an old Chinese auto-therapy. It consists of movements made on the rhythm of your breath, the relaxation of muscles, the conscious opening of energy streams of the organs (meridians) and acupuncture points (energy points) in the body. The balance in the function of the organs gives rest to emotions. Because of this the mind becomes more peaceful and can concentrate better. There is a continuous interaction between mind, body and breathing. The “secret” of Tai Chi lies in the control of the “centre”: Tan Tien. The Tan Tien point lies three finger breadths under the navel, between the spine (at the back) and abdominal wall (in front). Focusing your attention on and relaxation of Tan Tien results in coherent movements and effective action. The moment the Chi starts streaming from Tai Tien the practitioner of Tai Chi will experience inner peace.
Tai Chi is an inspiring road to self - knowledge and to an optimally sound balance between body and mind, man and the world around. Take a moment in time and spend it connecting with yourself.