Tai Chi

Tai Chi at George Mason University

Tai Chi class at George Mason University Dance Department 2010

What is Tai Chi, Tai Chi Chuan, T’ai Chi Ch’üan or Taijiquan — literally “supreme ultimate fist?” Taiji, most commonly known as Tai Chi, T’ai Chi, or Taiji, is an internal Chinese martial art. There are different styles of T’ai Chi Ch’uan, but most schools can trace their development to the system originally taught by the Chen family to the Yang family starting in the early 1800’s.

What is Tai Chi — the Practice

Tai Chi is often promoted and practiced as a martial arts therapy or exercise for the purposes of health and longevity. The movements of Tai Chi are slow and gentle and therefore excellent practice for anyone with physical limitations. The movements can be taken to deeper and more challenging levels offering more strength and flexibility to those who desire more physical challenge as well. Keep in mind that no matter how you choose to practice Tai Chi, it’s base origin is rooted in martial application.

What is Tai Chi — the Style

Tai Chi Chuan is considered a “soft style”, or internal, martial art — an art applied with as much deep relaxation or “softness” in the muscles as possible — to distinguish its theory and application from that of the hard, or external, martial art styles which use a degree of force in the muscles.

What is Tai Chi — the Variations

Variations of Tai Chi’s basic training forms are well known as the slow motion routines that groups of people practice every morning in parks across China and other parts of the world. Traditional Tai Chi training is intended to teach awareness of one’s own balance and what affects it, awareness of the same in others, an appreciation of the practical value in one’s ability to moderate extremes of behavior and attitude at both mental and physical levels, and how this applies to effective self-defense principles.

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