What is Tai Chi?
There are two types of martial arts: soft martial arts and hard martial arts. The hard martial arts are kung fu and karate. The soft martial arts are tai chi and ba gua. Tai Chi is a form of exercise that is very gentle, so most people can practice it. Unlike the hard martial arts, Tai Chi is combined with yoga and meditation. It emphasizes relaxation and provides soft and fluid motions instead of physical force. The movements are practiced in a very choreographed flow, which is known as a form. The slow movements require balance and core strength, so it's not as easy as it looks!
Health Benefits of Tai Chi
Tai Chi extremely good for you. It's a holistic system, which means that it benefits the mind, spirit, and the physical body. Practice trains your powers of concentration, improves mental awareness, and teaches you how to control stress. After practicing Tai Chi, you feel alert and refreshed rather than tired like other forms of exercise.
Good breathing techniques mixed with the physical exercise help to improve your balance, flexibility, and posture. They also relax the muscles and nervous system, which in time promotes the act of the internal organs: practitioners claim that tai chi lowers and regulates the heart's blood pressure, improves digestion function, and makes the immune system less susceptible to illness.
History of Tai Chi
Fact and myth are a part of the history of ancient things. It's very difficult to separate most myth from facts that we are presented, especially for the oldest of mediation forms. This is specially true for tai chi. For many centuries practiced in secret; therefore, what was passed on was never revealed fully. But what is for sure known is that it originated in China. Drawing on the philosophy of Taoism, it is related to other healing and martial arts like chi kung and kung fu.
Tai Chi History Time Line
The beginning of tai chi could go back as far as 5,000 years, but the form as we know it today did not become fully known until the 13th century.
2700 B.C The Yellow Emperor, the father of Chinese medicine, practices exercises based on movements of animals.
6th Century A.D. Bodhidharma, founder of Zen Buddhism, teaches mind-body exercises to monks at Shaolin temple in Henan.
13th Century Chang San Feng constructs early system of tai chi, after seeing a snake and crane fighting.
18th Century Chen family of Henan practice tai chi in secret.
1800s Yang Lu-chan learns Chen style. He goes on to develop and teach Yang style.
1880s Chinese emigrants spread tai chi to Singapore.
1930s Cheng Man-ching trains with Yang Chen-fu, grandson ofYang Lu-chan.
1940s Cheng Man-ching simplifies Yang style into short form, now the most widely practiced style in the world.
1949 Cheng Man-ching moves to Taiwan, where he opens a school in Taipei.
1960s Tai chi starts to become popular in the West. Cheng Man-ching opens a school in New York.
What is Chi?
The idea of a universal life force, an ineluctable energy that bathes the universe and flows through all living things. Chi is literally offensive in English. Chi seems to be akin to the well-understood force of electricity in that it flows, it is invisible, and it is present in the body.
Chi is the central idea of Chinese medicine and of the Eastern understanding of the world. It is seen as the vital, animating force that gives life to all things and upon which our mental, physical, and spiritual health depends. The therapeutic practices of acupuncture are based on directing the flow of chi (or qi, as the word is sometimes transcribed) to wherever it is needed. In Japan, chi is called ki, and here too it is manipulated as a way of maintaining good health. Practitioners of Indian yoga also know this energy, which they call prana.
Text: Bailey B
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