What Is T'ai Chi?
An ancient Chinese"soft" martial art form (commonly translated to mean "Grand Ultimate Fist), Tai Chi Chuan is a means of cultivating the qi, or chi, for perceived health benefits and spiritual insights. It consists of a set of soft slow movements, known as a form (much like a Karate Kata) and is considered a form of Chinese Medicine. Tai Chi is accessible to all ages and physical abilities and requires no special equipment. Ideally all you need is loose fitting clothing, soft footwear or bare feet if you wish. This Chinese martial art is the best known of the internal systems. It emphasizes body coordination and inner energy (Chi), rather than muscle power. Chi is developed through mental concentration, deep breathing, relaxing and sinking (very bent knees) of the body.
Most people are familiar with the Tai Chi Form movement. Whenever you see travelogues of China, they include images of people practicing slow, graceful movements usually early in the morning. As with Qigong these slow, external movements help to stimulate the internal organs, by promoting the flow of internal energy called Qi (Chi).
The correct title is T'ai Chi Chuan, an original internal martial art that has been around for about 1000 years and was introduced to the West in the 1920’s from China. Dates of origination are not clear as revolution and rulers destroyed most documentation. The different styles of forms were handed down from generation to generation, not usually being taught outside the individual family circle. There are direct family lineage charts available, but they tend to be somewhat complicated and confusing and can be very controversial. Several original family names do still exist, lending their names to their specific styles, the most popular being the Yang family - the most popular style in the West of which several adaptations are now in existence. The Chen family is said to be the originator of T'ai Chi as we know it today, including Yang Style. The several other most popular forms of T'ai Chi, including Wu, Lee, and Sun families, and can be termed offshoots from the Yang Style.
Both T'ai Chi and Qigong practice the same philosophy and principles of yin and yang. The
definition of the words T'ai Chi also applies to the Yin & Yang symbol.
T'ai = Supreme
Chi = Ultimate
For more information on T'ai Chi, see the list of web resources below::
www.soton.ac.uk/~maa1/chi/menutaichi.htm Information about Tai Chi.
www.chebucto.ns.ca/Philosophy/Taichi/what.html "What is Tai Chi?"
www.chebucto.ns.ca/Philosophy/Taichi/history.html "History of Tai Chi"
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T'ai_Chi_Ch'uan Good overview of Tai Chi, from Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia
http://www.drtaichi.com/ - Ms. Penner has studied (and recommends) the videos of David-Dorian Ross, an American T’ai Chi Champion, whose competitive performances have won him seven US gold medals, two World bronze medals and a World silver medal.
http://www.bodiesinspace.com/?p=7674 Great article on Tai Chi, and there are many more on this website.