"Tai Chi", is a mind-body practice that originated in China many centuries ago. A person doing Tai Chi moves his or her body slowly and gently, while breathing deeply and meditating which is why Tai Chi is also called “moving meditation or medicine in motion.”
Many practitioners believe that Tai Chi helps the energy flow throughout the body of a proposed vital energy called Qi which is pronounced "Chi," which means air or power. Tai Chi is a system of physical exercise and a way of moving meditation which has been part of daily life. The Chinese characters for Tai Chi refers to “Supreme Ultimate.” It is also widely accepted that Tai Chi movement patterns were derived from forms for self-defense.
Tai Chi is an art whose slow and gentle movements are embodied vigor and force. One blends meditation and low impact aerobics into a total mind and body through the forms. It helps the individual progress along the path of self-knowledge. From Tai Chi, health and energy are acquired for sustained concentration. Meditation helps develop inner strength, confidence, and personal efficiency.
As a Chinese saying aptly puts it, "Inside Cotton is hidden needle."
Tai Chi is also an art form, an alchemical practice, and a ritual dance. It becomes a personal art when the pattern is thoroughly mastered and remembered. When the thoughts are not directed to anticipating what comes next, there is absorption in the quiet beauty of Tai Chi and the shapes the performer makes in space.
Tai Chi is alchemical because we utilize the elements in the atmosphere to transform ourselves. When we perform Tai Chi, we absorb oxygen and light and convert them to fire and water.
Tai Chi as a system of physical exercise offers benefits similar to those of Hatha Yoga. Performance imparts a sense of well-being and physical stimulation. It improves health.
Tai Chi, when practiced as a form of self defense, is known as Tai Chi Chuan. Chuan is Chinese for "Fist".
Tai Chi teaches us to be yielding, non-resistant, and non-violent. We learn not to meet force with force. If someone might try to commit an act of aggression against you, at that time you must be able to stop it.
Tai Chi is helpful in learning to get out of the way, quickly.
As a Chinese saying puts it, "Four ounces transforms thousand pounds."
Tai Chi is also called Kung Fu. Lately, these words have become popularized, and people believe that Kung Fu means fast fighting movements originated by the Chinese. In fact, the Chinese character for study or work is Kung. The character for person is Fu. The true meaning of Kung Fu is any task that requires time, patience, and study.
When Tai chi is performed, three major components are working together -