What is T'ai Chi?
T’ai Chi Ch’uan, also known as Tai Chi or Tai Ji, is a Chinese form of exercise designed for relaxation, balance, and health. In the West, it is mainly known as a mindful martial arts, or moving meditation. It focuses on slow, smooth movements that cultivate inward focus and free energy flow.
There are several variations as to the definition of the word T’ai Chi Ch’uan, also written as Taiji (tie-jee). But basically T’ai Chi loosely translates to “The Grand Ultimate”. Ch’uan translates to ‘fist’. So combining these you get “The Grand Ultimate Fist”. The concept of T’ai Chi represents the fusion of Yin Yang into a single ultimate, represented by the taijitu symbol , which is rooted in both Taoist and Confucian Chinese philosophy.
Although most people in the West practice T’ai Chi for the peace, inner calm and stress relief, T’ai Chi origins lies in the martial arts. It belongs to the martial arts family called Wushu, which basically means a traditional self-defense activity practiced with or without weapons. The main difference between T’ai Chi’s martial principals and other fighting forms is that it emphasizes the yielding, flowing, and avoidance of conflict. It hardly relies on muscular strength alone, yet T’ai Chi is an extremely effective form of self defense. In combat, a true T’ai Chi master effectively yields to incoming force and is able to flow with the right energy; seldom relying on brute strength.