What is Tai Chi? The Benefits, The History and The Study

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Compared with some of the harder, rigid and more obviously disciplined martial arts, Tai Chi can be viewed as a soft style.

However, if you study Tai Chi to its full extent, then it becomes obvious that this is not the case.

So, What is Tai Chi?

Tai Chi Chuan is a holistic martial art using internal energy (‘Chi’) for good health, self-development and self-defence.

The initial training focuses on relaxed, slow, flowing movement to assist in realising the soft power of internal energy. Its adaptability makes the study possible for people at all levels of health and fitness.

The constant weight shifts train balance and body awareness, leading to confident ease of movement within the form and in everyday life.

Tai Chi increases oxygen uptake, reduces blood pressure, slows the decline in cardiovascular power and increases bone density.

Because it develops strength and flexibility within the joints, the practise can result in greater leg and knee mobility.

Heightened mood states and improved immune function are all direct results of the reduced stress levels that are achieved both during and after a Tai Chi class.

The History

The founder of the Yang style was Yang Lu-ch’an {1799-1872}, who studied under Ch’en Chang-hsing starting in 1820. Yang became a teacher in his own right, and his subsequent expression of tai chi chuan became known as the Yang style. Yang Lu-ch’an came to prominence as a result of his being hired by the Chinese Imperial family to teach tai chi chuan to the elite Palace Battalion of the Imperial Guards, a position he held until his death.

The Yang Ch’eng-fu form of Yang Style Tai Chi is the most popular of the various styles that comprise Tai Chi in modern times. To emphasise the big movements of his Hand Form, Yang Ch’eng-fu took out the explosive Fa-jing and stamping.

The Study

For beginners, the class structure would normally consist of Zhan Zhuang chi kung {standing meditation} and loosening exercises, followed by the study of the traditional Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan Form.

Whilst, for many people, this basic level of study is sufficient and proves very beneficial to their health and fitness, the true worth of Tai Chi as a martial art only really becomes apparent at the more advanced levels, where studies include:

Single Push Hands, Double Push Hands and Sensitivity – utilising stepping backwards and forwards; Traditional Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan (Crane); Yin Yang Concept and Correction of Yin Yang Concept; Traditional Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan – Spiral Concept; Live step single and double; Small Circle Push Hands; Ta Lu ’2 & 3 steps and Ta Lu Form; Yang Style Sword; Yang Style Broadsword; Threading Nine Pearls System; Substantial and Insubstantial; San Sau; Energy healing.

If you can achieve competence in the advanced aspects of Tai Chi, your ability to defend yourself will be hugely improved.  Learning to harness and utilise your internal energy against an aggressor can be so much more powerful than the more obvious, but more limiting use of the external physical strength of your arms and legs.

Your ability to defend yourself is vastly improved if you can combine your internal energy with your own body weight.

Tai Chi – not just for older people.

Keira Benson’s Study of Tai Chi has had a major contribution to her health and peace of mind.

For more information on tai chi in Southend-on-Sea, visit:

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