T'ai Chi - Meditation in Motion

Regardless of the weather and the temperature, if you happened to make an early morning visit to any of the parks in China, you would see a large number of people on their way to work stop off at the park to practice T'ai Chi Ch'uan. They go through the T'ai Chi form early in the morning and again later in the afternoon - as regularly and as often as you would brush your teeth or have a bath or shower. For them it is a daily internal cleansing routine - a way of life.

Literally translated, T'ai Chi Ch'uan (or taijiquan - often abbreviated to tai chi or taiji) means "supreme ultimate fist". Legend has it that T'ai Chi originated in China some 5,000 years ago as a self-defence art. The most popular creation story is that of T'ai Chi's (possibly mythical) founder Chang San Feng, a Taoist monk, who is said to have devised the moves after watching a fight between a crane and a snake.

Since its uncertain beginningsT'ai Chi has been developed as an advanced means of combat and self-defence and a number of styles have emerged - each named after the families that developed them. Chen, Wu, Li and Yang (the most popular style worldwide) are some examples.

The art of T'ai Chi is generally practised as a set sequence of distinctive postures connected by slow flowing movements. These postures and movements are designed to increase chi or energy flow along the meridians (invisible energy pathways of the body) and to gently exercise every joint and muscle in the body.

The main reasons for the modern day practice of T'ai Chi are for health, balance and an increased sense of well-being.

Because of its slow, relaxing nature T'ai Chi has been called "meditation in motion" and can be practised by old and young alike regardless of level of fitness or physical dexterity. The degree of physical and mental intensity of T'ai Chi practice can be varied personally by the individual practitioner. It does not require any special equipment or clothing - or much space. Part of the beauty of T'ai Chi is that it, and its benefits, are accessible to all.

A number of people have commented that they would never get up, or walk, again if they tried some of the T'ai Chi moves - such as snake creeps down, below. But by practicing T'ai Chi you slowly build up the strength, flexibility and balance that enables you to tackle the more advanced moves with grace and relative ease.


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18 April 2013, 00:46
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