If you were to walk into a room full 25 Tai Chi instructors or students and ask the question "What is Tai Chi Chuan?", you would get 25 completely different answers. This is because Tai Chi is multi-dimensional and each instructor places emphasis on different aspects of Tai Chi in their teachings. Let’s take a look at a few of the different answers that you might receive if you were to ask this question.
When translated, Tai Chi stands for the "Supreme Ultimate Force". It is a form of martial art that not only teaches how to defend oneself, but also teaches practices how to reach an inner sense of calm and peace. When practicing Tai Chi, you will find that it integrates a variety of slow, choreographed movements that are designed to simulate hand-to-hand combat. Depending on your level of expertise, some of these sequences can be as short as 16 different movements. For more experienced Tai Chi practicers, sequences can reach up to 108 movements or more.
There are several different aspects that are characteristic of all Tai Chi Chuan teachings. Here are a few:
1) Relaxation – While many forms of martial art focus on strong, hard movements, each movement performed in Tai Chi is designed to use a minimum amount of muscle activity. This makes it easier for individuals of all ages to learn, as it only places a small amount of tension on your muscles.
2) Slow movements – Tai Chi is a form of self-defense. But to those who practice Tai Chi, self-defense is not all about punching and kicking – it is about developing a self-awareness. According to Tai Chi masters, the slow movements used within the art help you to become more aware of the subtle changes within your body, allowing you to develop an "internal power".
3) Coordination – There are many different styles of Tai Chi, each of which achieve coordination in different ways. With that said, all Tai Chi Chuan styles reach the same consensus that the art form helps the body to work in harmony with itself.
4) Mindfulness – The art of Tai Chi is performed in such as way that the practicer is aware of each movement they make. The quieter your mind is, the more aware you will be. As such, Tai Chi teaches you to clear your mind and focus on what is put before you.
5) Breathing – Breathing is "the link that ties everything together". In Tai Chi, emphasis is placed on deep and natural breathing (otherwise referred to as "abdominal breathing"). Breathing will help you to become more aware, and will help to release stress and tension, bringing your body and mind to an inner peace.
So, what exactly is “Tai Chi Chuan?” It is a combination of many things, making it difficult to sum up in one short article. If you want to learn what Tai Chi is, the best way to do so is practice it for yourself. If you live in the Los Angeles area and would like to try out Tai Chi, contact TCSociety.com today.