Tai Chi

Tai Chi – Techniques, Forms (Ch’uan), etc.

Tai Chi is often seen as a “gentle” martial arts style because many seniors use its slow movements in order to improve their health & balance and to reduce stress. Nevertheless, Tai Chi also has “harder” sub-styles and variations that include vigorous self-defense techniques.

Elements of Tai Chi

Tai Chi Styles

There are five major styles of Tai Chi, each named after the Chinese family from which it originated:

  • Chen-style (陳氏) of Chen Wangting (1580–1660)
  • Yang-style (楊氏) of Yang Lu-ch’an (1799–1872)
  • Wu- or Wu (Hao)-style (武氏) of Wu Yu-hsiang (1812–1880)
  • Wu-style (吳氏) of Wu Ch’uan-yu (1834–1902) and his son Wu Chien-ch’uan (1870–1942)
  • Sun-style (孫氏) of Sun Lu-t’ang (1861–1932)

The most common Tai Chi style found in Western and modern cultures is Yang-style (and Yang-style variants).

History of Tai Chi

According to the American Tai Chi and Qiqong Association, “Tai chi developed in China in about the 12th century A.D. It started as a martial art, or a practice for fighting or self-defense, usually without weapons. Over time, people began to use tai chi for health purposes as well. Many different styles of tai chi, and variations of each style, developed. The term “tai chi” has been translated in various ways, such as “internal martial art,” “supreme ultimate boxing,” “boundless fist,” and “balance of the opposing forces of nature.” While accounts of tai chi’s history often differ, the most consistently important figure is a Taoist monk (and semilegendary figure) in 12th-century China named Chang San-Feng (or Zan Sanfeng). Chang is said to have observed five animals — tiger, dragon, leopard, snake, and crane — and to have concluded that the snake and the crane, through their movements, were the ones most able to overcome strong, unyielding opponents. Chang developed an initial set of exercises that imitated the movements of animals. He also brought flexibility and suppleness in place of strength to the martial arts, as well as some key philosophical concepts.”

Health Benefits of Tai Chi

Given that Tai Chi is generally a low-impact martial arts style, it has been found to offer health benefits to students of all ages, especially seniors. According to the US Government’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Tai Chi may be effective in helping people with arthritis, better balance (fall prevention), improved muscle strength, flexibility, weight loss, stress management, etc.

Video of Tai Chi

References

  1. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Tai Chi, http://nccam.nih.gov/health/taichi, Added – 9/7/13
  2. Supreme Chi Living – An Online Journal by the American Tai Chi and Qiqong Association, Overview of Tai Chi, http://www.americantaichi.net/TaiChiOverview.asp, Added – 9/7/13

Share this page with a friend