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Tai Chi

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WHAT IS TAI CHI?

This traditional Chinese martial art is classified as a soft style or internal. It is a very gentle form of exercise, suitable for people of any age or level of fitness, and a superior method of self-defence. Its slow, flowing, continuous movements relax, strengthen and energise the body while allowing the mind to rest, thus bringing about physical and mental well-being.

What does the word Tai Chi mean?
The Mandarin term "tai chi chuan" literally translates as "supreme ultimate fist" or "boundless fist", but may better translate to "great extremes boxing", with an emphasis on finding balance between two great extremes. The concept of the "supreme ultimate" is the symbol of the Taijitu meant to show the principles of Yin and Yang duality of Taoist philosophy.
In Western countries Tai Chi Chuan is often known simply as "Tai Chi".



History

Tai chi's theories and practice are believed by some schools to have been formulated by the Taoist monk Zhang Sanfeng in the 12th century, at about the same time that the principles of the Neo-Confucian school were making themselves felt in Chinese intellectual life. Zhang Sanfeng as a young man studied Tao Yin breathing exercises from his Taoist teachers and martial arts at the Buddhist Shaolin monastery, eventually combining the martial forms and breathing exercises to formulate the soft or internal principles we associate with tai chi chuan and related martial arts.

There are five major styles of tai chi chuan, each named after the Chinese family from which it originated:
• Chen style
• Yang style
• Wu or Wu/Hao style of Wu Yu-hsiang (Wu Yuxiang)
• Wu style of Wu Ch'uan-yü (Wu Quanyuo) and Wu Chien-ch'uan (Wu Jianquan)
• Sun style
In modern times tai chi is priactised also for its aestetic appeal as well as for its benefits to physical and mental health.

Training and techniques
The core training involves two primary features: the first being the solo form, a slow sequence of movements which emphasize a straight spine, abdominal breathing and a natural range of motion; the second being different styles of pushing hands for training movement principles of the form in a more practical way.
Tai chi's martial aspect relies on sensitivity to the opponent's movements and center of gravity dictating appropriate responses. Effectively affecting or "capturing" the opponent's center of gravity immediately upon contact is trained as the primary goal of the martial tai chi student. The sensitivity needed to capture the center is acquired over thousands of hours of first yin (slow, repetitive, meditative, low impact) and then later adding yang ("realistic," active, fast, high impact) martial training; forms, pushing hands and sparring.

The ability to use tai chi as a form of self-defence in combat is said to be the most effective proof of a student's understanding of the art's principles. The study of tai chi chuan martially is the study of appropriate change in response to outside forces; the study of yielding and blending with outside force rather than attempting to meet it with opposing force.

Tai chi as sport
Since 1950s Wushu teachers in China have developed several forms of tai chi for the purposes of demonstration that didn't involve the complete memory, balance and coordination requirements of the traditional forms. There are 24, 48 and 67 Combined Forms, based on classical forms from four of the original styles; Chen, Yang, Wu, and Sun. In the late-1980s, the Chinese Sports Committee standardized many different competition forms. These modern versions of tai chi chuan (almost always listed using the pinyin romanization Taijiquan) have since become an integral part of international wushu tournament competition. The International Wushu Federation (IWUF) applied for wushu to be part of the Olympic games, but were denied official status for the sport.

/source: wikipedia/


 

 

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