Tai Chi, for the Inner Tranquility

Tai chi or Taiji Quan is an art and a science. It is the art of Chinese shadow-boxing, rhythmic and fluid, conveying a sense of inner tranquility. It is a science of control of physical and mental functions that improves the health and outlook of the practitioner. Exercising, stretching and clearing the whole body at its deepest levels, it is a combination of martial arts, artistry, preventive medicine and meditation. 

Taiji as a term is older than the martial art, referring to the movement between the forces of Yin (negative, receptive, structural) and Yang (positive, active, formless essence.) The flux between these two energies is the basis for matter and existence in ancient Chinese philosophy as well as in Buddhist philosophy. This is the meaning of Taiji which was used to describe Taiji Quan because the art stresses the development of mastery over change between yin and yang forces within the body and martial arts applications. This attainment of union with the universal principle of Dao at high levels results in higher state of consciousness and even spiritual realization in Buddhist and Daoist practice. Neigong is one path in this journey.

Taiji Quan is one of the three main arts (Taiji Quan, Xingyiquan, and Baguazhang) that fall into what is known as Nei Gong; internal art.

Internal arts focus on the internal invisible facility of the human body. Those consist of mind intention, cultivation and circulation of Qi, breath, and use of small muscles as well as vital organs. These internal elements operate together with gross physical facilities to create a complete art based on harmony of these working elements. Internal art does not mean that the art is completely internal, but that it focuses on the development of the internal aspect.

Techniques for practice of Taiji are essentially the same no matter what style you study. The practitioner will focus on individual practice of the forms, push hands and dual combat techniques. Posture is extremely important with emphasis on being rounded and relaxed with even weight distribution. Movement should be slow, flowing and light and the practitioner needs to be firmly rooted so as to never lose the centre of balance. The whole body should move as one.

Taiji Quan is practiced by lots of people in China. Now as in the past it serves as a do-it-yourself health insurance program. There are many different approaches to take towards study and practice. Those that want to practice for health or cultural study only can practice a low impact Qi cultivation course. However, to truly study Taiji Quan as a martial art requires pain, diligence and exhaustion at times.

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