Why T'ai Chi?
Health · Meditation · Self-Defense
T’ai Chi Ch’uan (pronounced TIE-GEE-CHWAN) is an ancient
martial art practiced for health, relaxation, self-defense and
strengthening of the mind and body.
While most martial arts depend on superior strength or speed,
T’ai Chi Ch’uan does not. Skill, technique, sensitivity
and internal development make strength and speed unnecessary.
As a health practice, T’ai Chi Ch’uan exercises every
muscle group for both strength and flexibility. It yields the benefits
of calisthenics in a pleasant, relaxed, and beautifully fluid
Through a series of organized movements and a method of slow,
deep breathing, the T’ai Chi solo form:
- Increases blood and energy circulation to all organs of the
body thereby increasing sensitivity, stamina and vitality.
- Exercises and strengthens all muscle groups in the body in
a relaxed, non-stressful way.
- Circulates vital energy, or Chi, throughout the body producing
a strong, flexible, balanced system.
A “round” of T’ai Chi exercises every muscle
group in the body for both strength and flexibility. By following
the body’s own natural movement patterns, blood circulates
more efficiently to the organs, tissues, and cells, increasing
their vitality. The calm, deep, breathing done in T’ai Chi
increases oxygen intake, which produces aerobic benefits without
unduly stressful workouts. In addition, the vital energy, or Chi
(jee), is drawn into each part of the body, resulting in an energized,
well functioning body, which is the basis of good health.
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The slow, relaxed, continuous flow of the T’ai Chi movements
creates a state of balance and tranquility. As the mind becomes
quiet, as the body becomes light and nimble, a harmony is reached
between mind and body, bringing a feeling of central equilibrium,
confidence and calm.
T’ai Chi Masters believe we then learn how to carry this feeling with us into our daily lives helping us to deal with conflicts in a non-stressful, non-aggressive way.
T’ai Chi utilizes Taoist meditation techniques to promote development of calm within self. These methods are believed to clear the body’s energy and allow the chi to circulate freely. This results in a clear mind and a strong spirit of vitality. One can then feel more in harmony and peace with themselves and others.
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As a self-defense practice, the martial art of T’ai Chi:
- Develops balance
- Does not rely on speed, strength, or muscular force
- Teaches us how to achieve the maximum result with the minimum
use of energy by utilizing ones own sensitivity and making use
of the opponent’s strength against him.
When they see the solo form performed, most people speak of how beautiful it is and how it appears the T’ai Chi practitioners are dancing. However, every posture in the form has a very powerful martial art application. The core self-defense belief in T’ai Chi is “to defend is to attack".
While many martial arts depend upon developing superior strength or speed, T’ai Chi Ch’uan is unique in that it's basis for mastery lies in the development of sensitivity. As sensitivity, technique and strategy are developed the use of brute force becomes unnecessary. Aggressive actions directed toward the practitioner are neutralized and directed away resulting in a non-aggressive, purely defensive martial art. Each posture has a practical application for self-defense which is taught in a non-competitive and non-aggressive manner.
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