What is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi and Qigong are separate systems of widely practised Chinese therapeutic movements or exercises, the origins of which date back to before 1100BC and the Shaolin Temples in China. Both are part of the Internal Martial Arts, which remained shrouded in secrecy behind the Great Wall of China, passed down from one generation to the next until the twentieth Century when Tai Chi became more widely taught in the west.
Tai Chi and Qigong have close links with Traditional Chinese Medicine, as both are based on the core values of balance and harmony that are essential for a long healthy life, physically, mentally and emotionally. The smooth movements of Tai Chi and Qigong direct Chi through the meridians of the body, which are also the focus areas of Traditional Chinese Medicine, including Acupuncture, Massage and Meditation.
Tai Chi translates as highest or ultimate, Chi, or Qi, means life force energy with Gong as practice or training. Tai Chi and Qigong are both similar in appearance, as a combination of fluid movements and meditation, slow breathing and balanced postures; which in turn create a deeper breathing rhythm and improved metabolism and blood circulation, thereby reducing stress levels and raising energy, or Chi levels.
Tai Chi and Qigong movements are based on rhythmical spiralling, circling and gentle cycles, with fluid and uniform movements co-ordinating and mobilising all the joints, ligaments and muscles in the body. As it is non-impact, it is suitable for all levels of fitness and health, gently working the whole body, massaging the internal organs whilst exercising the mind, with the repetition of gentle and soporific movements.
With regular practice Tai Chi and Qigong create enhanced physical, mental and emotional well-being and practitioners can feel immediate health benefits. On a physical level the body becomes suppler, increasing the range of movements,
improving co-ordination, promoting good posture and balance; mentally it can help to improve concentration, clearing and focusing the mind; and emotionally it helps us to become calmer, relaxed and with a more positive outlook on life.
The best way to prevent disease and disharmony in the body is to restore and maintain a healthy balance in all human energy systems. Tai Chi and Qigong provides us with keys to do just that.
The diagram shows the origins of tai chi and martial arts from the melting pots of the Shaolin Temples. Click to enlarge.