Tai Chi Chuan (Yang style) is both an ancient and modern discipline.
It is a balanced martial art, incorporating softness and strength, employing precise body mechanics in an ultimately flexible and flowing manner. Challenging to master, yet enjoyable to practice for beginner and expert alike, Tai Chi Chuan is at once an adventure to be explored and a creative reflection of one's inner strength.
Researchers have found that intensive tai chi practice shows some favorable effects on the promotion of balance control, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness, and has shown to reduce the risk of falls. Tai Chi's gentle, low impact movements burn more calories than surfing and nearly as many as downhill skiing.
Tai Chi Chuan translates into “Supreme Ultimate Fist”, and is one of the finest products of Chinese philosophy and culture. Based upon the principles of I-Ching (book of changes) and the philosophy of Yin and Yang (universal opposites), Tai Chi has been practiced for thousands of years as both a martial art and, moreover, a long-proven method of healthful exercise.
There are five major styles of tai chi chuan, each named after the Chinese family from which it originated: (Yang style is the most popular)
- Chen-style (陳氏) of Chen Wangting (1580–1660)
- Yang-style (楊氏) of Yang Lu-ch'an (1799–1872)
- Wu- or Wu/Hao-style (武氏) of Wu Yu-hsiang (1812–1880)
- Wu-style (吳氏) of Wu Ch'uan-yu (1834–1902) and his son Wu Chien-ch'uan (1870–1942)
- Sun-style (孫氏) of Sun Lu-t'ang (1861–1932)
Your mind will lead you through your Tai Chi journey and innately your body will follow, so concentration is the key to success. Additionally, complete relaxation of the body with all movements will aid you in the effortless flow of your Chi. Breathing must come from your stomach and not from your chest to allow for proper rejuvenation and revitalization of your body. When moving during Tai Chi, let your feet move first, and allow your heal to contact the ground before the toes because your feet are for balance and feeling. Finally, Tai Chi should be felt from the tips of the fingers through the entire body to the toes.
Tai Chi is a system of slow, flowing and balanced movements or postures which when practiced correctly is able to manipulate one’s own bio-energy of Chi pronounced CHEE or Qi pronounced KEE.
The order of popularity (in terms of number of practitioners) is Yang, Wu, Chen, Sun, and Wu/Hao. You are learning “Yang style.”
In traditional Chinese culture, Chi is an active principle forming part of any living thing. Chi is frequently translated as "energy flow" or “life Force”. The Chinese believe that there are two main kinds of Chi:
(1) Original Chi or Pre-Birth Chi received from ones parents and present in the body from before birth. Original Chi is limited in quantity.
(2) Post-Birth Chi obtained in various ways from nature, from the heavens, from the earth and from our atmosphere. Some of the ways we get this chi is through breathing, drinking water, and through eating food whose chi has not been destroyed by cooking and processing. Aerobic exercise gives us an increase in this type of Chi from the oxygen in our air. Chi circulates throughout the body as does blood.