Tai Chi Chuan

The Chinese characters for Tai Chi Chuan can be translated as the ‘Supreme Ultimate Fist.‘ The notion of ‘supreme ultimate’ is often associated with the Chinese concept of yin-yang, the notion that one can see a dynamic duality (male/female, active/passive, dark/light, forceful/yielding, etc.) in all things. So, it can be thought of as a system of self defense, rooted in the principles of Yin and Yang.

Tai Chi, as it is practiced in the West today, is often thought of as a moving form of yoga and meditation combined. There are a number of so- called forms which consist of a sequence of movements. Many of these movements are  derived from the martial arts (and perhaps even more ancestrally than that, from the natural movements of animals and birds) although the way they are performed in Tai Chi is slowly, softly and gracefully with smooth and even transitions between them.

For many practicioners the focus in doing them is not, first and foremost, martial, but as a meditative exercise for the body. For others the martial aspects of Tai Chi are of considerable interest. In Chinese philosophy and medicine there exists the concept of ‘chi,’ a vital force that animates the body. One aim of Tai Chi is to foster the circulation of this ‘chi‘ within the body.  This enhances health, vitality, and longevity.

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