What is Tai Chi Chuan?

Tai Chi Chuan (usually shortened to Tai Chi) encompasses a powerful martial art, effective health exercise regime and a living philosophy, origins of which go back to ancient times. Originally, Tai Chi emerged as a martial art and hence the art is more correctly referred to as Tai Chi Chuan (Tai Chi meaning the Grand Ultimate and Chuan referring to the fist). With progressive developments it became increasingly recognised for its health improving qualities although its completeness cannot be appreciated fully without the martial elements. An important characteristic of Tai Chi is that it can be learnt and practiced by people of all ages and fitness levels.


Tai Chi is for everyone

Tai Chi is practiced worldwide by millions of people of all ages and fitness levels. It origins are traced back to the Chenjiagou village in China around the 17th century although some believe that its history goes back much further.  The first style of Tai Chi was named after the village and is known as Chen Style Tai Chi. As the art was passed down the generations, other styles came into existence, including Yang, Sun and Wu. These styles differ from each other mainly in relation to the movements and postures of the form being practiced. There are numerous styles in practice today and consequently it is not always easy for a beginner to know which style to choose. In addition, variations in the forms can be observed, even in the same style of Tai Chi. Currently, the most popular style is the Yang Style because of its soft and flowing nature. Given the diversity in Tai Chi, the National Sports Council of China have standardised some of the forms and these are gaining popularity along side the traditional training methods and routines.

 

Originally, Tai Chi emerged as a martial art and hence the art is more correctly referred to as Tai Chi Chuan (Tai Chi meaning the Grand Ultimate and Chuan referring to the fist). With progressive developments it became increasingly recognised for its health improving qualities. 
 

People normally associate Tai Chi with slow, meditative movements making up the so-called ‘form’. Although the forms constitute an important part of the system, there are many other related elements that together make Tai Chi an extremely effective health promotion and self defense system. The syllabus or training schedule of a Tai Chi school will vary depending on the experience and training of the instructor. In a complete syllabus Tai Chi is taught alongside Qi Gong (pronounced Chi Kung) as well as meditation.

 

Tai Chi forms are a set of coordinated movements designed to increase strength, fitness and relaxation by stimulating the various internal and external systems of the human body. The forms that you will learn are based on the Yang Style. Training consists of various elements progressing through the first forms such as the 8 and 16 steps. Once you have become familiar with the basic techniques and principles you will move on to the 24 steps standardised and traditional long forms, 42 combined form as well as weapon forms, such sword and sabre. In addition, students further develop their skills through Pushing Hands, martial arts applications (optional) and other partner work.

 

Qi Gong (pronounced Chi Kung) consists of a set of soft exercises coordinated with breathing to strengthen and balance your body and hence raise your energy levels. 

 

Meditation combines breathing techniques and mental concentration with visualisation to help you to stay relaxed even during stressful situations.

 

A powerful martial art with every movement within the forms having deadly applications. Tai Chi Chuan is known as an internal martial art and uses movements that are flowing and extremely effective for self defence. A student studying the martial aspects will need a higher level of  internal and  physical training and skills incorporating defence and attack strategies and techniques, applications of forms as well as pushing hand methods.