Most of us have seen pictures of people in the park doing the slow, graceful movements of the Tai Chi form. Few, however, understand the full power of this ancient form of exercise, energy healing, and martial art.
A Martial Art and a Meditation
Sometimes referred to as the “Supreme Ultimate Force,” “Great Extremes Boxing,” or the “Grand Ultimate Fist,” Tai Chi Chuan is practiced more in today’s world for its physical and spiritual benefits than for its inherent martial arts techniques. Many Yoga adherents even call it “Moving Yoga” or “Moving Meditation.”
Nevertheless, a true martial art it is, though it takes many years of study to perfect for self-defense purposes.
The annals of history are unclear about the year, or even the century, in which Tai Chi was created. Adding to the confusion, there are five distinct Tai Chi styles, each with its own different practice, and several dozen offshoots within the styles as well. The earliest verifiable mention of Tai Chi is of the Chen style, from the 1600s.
The Internal Art
As an internal martial art, Tai Chi is unparalleled. Considered a “sister art” to Pa Qua Chuan, they share some of the same philosophy and approaches.
Tai Chi can be employed as a meditation to enhance the realization of the unity of all things within the diversion of opposites, such as the well-known concept of “Yin and Yang.” It can increase the practitioner’s flow of life energy and reduce energy blockages, a form of deep energetic medicine. And its practice can, and almost always does, produce a gradual awakening on a level of consciousness that brings the spiritual to the physical.
Tai Chi is practiced by going through a set of predetermined movements, called simply the Tai Chi Form. These movements are designed to provide essential stretches for every muscle, along with internal and external balance work.
Shihan Riddle, founder of Do No Kai Temple, where our Tai Chi Rulers and Tai Chi Daggers are created, frequently tells his students that the study of Tai Chi is best begun around the age of fifty. This is because it takes great patience and perseverance to master.
While the form looks very simple, it is anything but simple. It can, however, be learned and performed by nearly anyone who is mobile, and there also exist various Tai Chi Chair Forms that are accomplished while seated.
Esoteric Tai Chi Practices
- Practices with a partner, such as Toi Sao, or “Push Hands,” a type of physical and energetic sensitivity training.
- Specific Chi Kung sets , which build energy utilizing advanced breathing techniques in combination with stretching exercises.
- Esoteric pursuits such as special meditations combined with Chi Kung breathing techniques.
- Tai Chi weapons training in the Gim, or long sword, the Do, a broadsword, or the Tai Chi Daggers.
- The Tai Chi Ruler Form, an individually practiced method of building energy and focus, balance and strength.
It is quite evident that Tai Chi offers a comprehensive, wide-range approach to the practitioner’s physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. The fact that it has continued to gain in popularity over the long centuries is a testament to its profound efficacy.