What is Tai Chi?

Tai Chi Chuan is the embodiment of an ancient human philosophy.  A rigorous course of self-discipline and self-exploration, through which we achieve a deeper understanding of our own mind and body, our relationships with others, and our role within the broader ecosystem.

Yang style is the world’s most popular version of Tai Chi. Its signature characteristics are its upright stance, large postures, and slow and fluid movement.

From past to present

Tai Chi was made famous by Chinese boxers Yang Luchan and Yang Chengfu, who accepted many challenges and won in competition against other styles of martial arts.

Yang Chengfu taught a sequence of movements, the “Tai Chi form,” consisting of 85 postures. Later generations distilled his form into 24 postures, and other simpler variations.

Master Yang also taught a set of partner exercises known as tuishou or “pushing hands.” These gentle drills allow Tai Chi students to develop, apply and improve their skills peacefully and without injury.

All styles of Tai Chi draw inspiration from legendary figures of Chinese history.  These figures include Daoist philosopher Lao Tzu—author of the Tao Te Ching—and Zhang Sanfeng.

See also: The History of Tai Chi in the United States

A modern practice for health

Although its exact origins are inseparable from ancient myth, the benefits of Tai Chi are tangible, relevant, and scientifically validated.*

  • Balance, flexibility, coordination and strength
  • Improved circulation and decreased stress
  • Sensitivity, awareness and patience
  • Enhanced abilities for self-defense
* Reference: Solloway et al. (2014). An evidence map of the effect of Tai Chi on health outcomes. Conditions studied include hypertension, osteoarthritis, depression, COPD, insomnia, self-confidence, fall prevention, and cognitive performance.

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See also: Is Tai Chi Really a Martial Art?