Tai Chi Basics

Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan

by Sifu Rick Little

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Tai Chi Chuan is a Martial Art, and quite an effective one if trained properly. The solo forms can be seen as an effort of the masters throughout the history of Tai Chi to record, codify, and pass down specific combat techniques and strategy. Thus the principles of relaxation, correct and well-coordinated posture, breathing, and sensitivity were all a part of the fighting strategy of Tai Chi Chuan. The emphasis on these aspects being “just for health” were, relatively speaking, a latecomer to the tradition of Tai Chi.

Standard features, or characteristics, of most Tai Chi solo forms are:

  • Relaxation: All movements are to be performed with minimum muscle tension. Only enough muscle activity is used to keep the correct posture and execute the desired gesture.
  • Slowness: Tai Chi is about becoming self-aware, the slower you make the movements the more you become aware of the subtle changes within the body as you pass through a gesture. It will also help you become aware of the “inner workings” of Tai Chi. It is also said to facilitate the development of “internal power”, or 內勁 nèijìn.
  • Coordination: Though different styles may have differing philosophies on how this is achieved, the general consensus is that the art of Tai Chi develops a body that is working in harmony with itself.
  • Mindfulness: The Tai Chi form should be practiced with intentful awareness of each phase of the movements. The quieter the mind the better you can be aware of the internal working of Tai Chi and the better you can facilitate the mind, body, and spirit integration.
  • Breathing: Said to be the link that ties everything together, the emphasis is on deep, natural breathing often referred to as “abdominal breathing”. There are many styles who emphasize more sophisticated methods of breathing.

Reviewing this list you can see why Tai Chi has been heralded to deliver so many health benefits.



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