TAI JI QUAN (TAI CHI CHUAN)
WHAT IS TAIJIQUAN (TAI CHI CHUAN)
There are many misconceptions concerning what TaiJiQuan (Tai Chi Chuan) ‘is’. Many people seem to think of it as a kind of ‘dance’, shop or limited to being an exercise for people of an elevated age. Many people believe that TaiJiQuan (Tai Chi Chuan) is not a martial art at all, story but just an exercise for relaxation or health. TaiJiQuan (Tai Chi Chuan) Is a martial art. And a highly Effective one. It’s approach to fighting both physically & philosophically is in accordance with Taoist Internal Alchemy. Because of this, treatment like other Internal Chinese martial arts, it has a particularly Soft flavor that people mistake for ineffectiveness.
TaiJiQuan (Tai Chi Chuan) is a time-tested art which gently exercises the body, the flow of vital internal energy, and the mind. It can be used for improved health, longevity, mental vitality, and spiritual development. TaiJiQuan (Tai Chi Chuan) aims at personal well-being. This includes the attainment of grace and balance, the promotion of physical and emotional health, and the development of energy flow.
TAIJIQUAN (TAI CHI CHUAN) AS A METHOD OF REGULATION
Regardless of your personal goals, underlying all of the elements of practice there is a common philosophy of relaxation of the mind and body so the body’s natural energy can flow freely. Taiji Boxing is based on the flow of Energy, not the strenuous actions of bone & muscle. As such it is important to develop a relaxation of the mind and body when facing confrontation. This allows a practitioner to neutralize any attack.
Above, Lisa & Marc perform a Single Hand, Fixed Step, Push Hands Drill. The drill is derived from a technique in the TaiJiQuan (Tai Chi Chuan) Long Form called Single Whip. This is the first of many push hands drills learned, & lends itself towards the very Deepest Knowledge of TaiJiQuan (Tai Chi Chuan); Knowledge of Self & Others.When being pushed, Lisa ‘rolls back’, yielding to the oncoming force from Marc. But, in Taiji, we want there to be “nothing in excess & no deficiency” – Marc is Leaning Forward in Excess of what is required for the technique to be fulfilled. This causes an imbalance both in his posture (which may easily be taken advantage of by Lisa) & in his knowledge of what is ‘necessary & correct’ – even within the confines of this simple exercise. This alludes to a parallel in the rest of Real Living, we should always be aware of our situation, of what is necessary & correct in order to accord ourselves with each & every situation in which we find ourselves. This exercise is an allegory of Life; the means to refine it into a very simply lived, & yet very Comprehensive & Passionate way of living.
INTERNAL ALCHEMY IN TAIJIQUAN (TAI CHI CHUAN)
The union of Meditation, Physical Movement & Spiritual Energy
In TaiJiQuan (Tai Chi Chuan) as in other Internal Chinese Martial Arts, the cultivation of qi (vital internal energy) & its development for application is the main emphasis in its practice; this is the source of power & force in the employment of each technique. In order to bring about such change within oneself, the idea of kung fu, or Time & Effort, is of paramount importance. Consistent practice will allow you to consistently re-investigate your state of being in order to evaluate where you were coming from, where you are, & where you need to go. But this must be done each day. Over & over again. The journey of a thousand miles is not limited to a single step.
Taoists maintaining a monastic existance, living in seclusion, brought to the world the mysteries of Internal Alchemy from their private introspections & exploration of The Tao. They developed their theories & practice from personal observation & experimentation. The promotion of a healthy lifestyle & personal well-being are the fundamental goals of Taoist practice, & the elongation of one’s internal being through a very long life & into the next are the goal of most aspirants of The Tao.It is the ability to ciculate your qi, your vital energy, freely throughout your body by use of your intention that brings about the health benefits of the mind & body. But the powers of the Mind & Soul are not limited simply to this.
The effects that true Taijiquan practice can have on it’s practitioners are vast & deep. Your perceptions become much more enhanced, you are able to see yourself & the world around you in a very different way. Just the physical practice of the solo exercise itself will develop many different aspects such as balance, coordination, relaxation, & meditation – each of these having several levels of depth & development within themselves! The solo practice will bring about an improved vitality, flexibility & an increased spiritual awareness. When your spiritual consciousness opens wide, the all-pervading calmness of the Tao suffuses your being. Situations in life that used to make you nervous or tense seem to no longer have such powerful, negative influences on you. You are able to use ‘the light within’ to dispel the ‘darkness’ that seems to come into your life. The spirit holds many abilities itself that are very rarely tapped by the common person, but they are obtainable with personal guidance from a qualified master.
TAIJIQUAN (TAI CHI CHUAN) AS MARTIAL ART
The movements of TaiJiQuan (Tai Chi Chuan) are deceptively simple & – to the outside observer, ‘ridiculously slow’. Many people who practice TaiJiQuan (Tai Chi Chuan) do so for it’s beneficial effects on one’s health, their spiritual development, inner peace & long life. And of these, most people who have not had experience with TaiJiQuan (Tai Chi Chuan) under a qualified master. They’ve not had the opportunity to understand how the martial applications that are taught to them Enhance & Support the healthful benefits that such a practice promotes. Eventually, students of TaiJiQuan (Tai Chi Chuan) mature & advance to the state where the combative techniques are taught to them by a qualified master. True masters teach in such a way that these techniques themselves explain the actual processes behind the inner work & refinement of ones personal being. Such a person will sit at a tournament surrounded by the friends & family of people competing in the TaiJiQuan (Tai Chi Chuan) division, & while everyone else comments on how graceful & controlled their friends or relatives look-
the knowledgable TaiJiQuan (Tai Chi Chuan) practitioner sees these things & much, much more.
The various strikes, pushes, blocks, kicks, redirective maneuvers, evasive techniques, spiral throws, joint locks & separations; This is the fighting, the Quan, of Tai Ji Quan. This is the Grand Ultimate Fist or Boxing.
Many styles of boxing tend to lend their abilities to people who are aggressive & loud-mouthed, while Internal Arts generally are practiced by people who are quite calm & almost continuously meditative in their awareness of the world around them. The very nature of its training, with emphasis on gracefulness, gentleness, and harmonious energy flow, is intrinsic to the development of mental freshness and cosmic harmony. ‘Traditionally’, Taoists are known for their love of freedom, disregard of mundane trifles, and penchant for joviality. A TaiJiQuan (Tai Chi Chuan) master, while confident of his martial skills, is soft-spoken, humble, tolerant, and at peace with himself and with others.
TaijiQuan is better than other forms of exercise in promoting health and fitness. In swimming, jogging, and karate, for example, the fitness acquired diminishes as one grows old, but in Taiji Quan it is enhanced. This is because Taiji Quan is more than physical exercise; it develops the inner faculties of essence, vital energy, and the mind. Taiji Quan is also effective for relieving and preventing illnesses like hypertension, arthritis, asthma, insomnia, migraine, depression, and nervousness. If practiced properly, it can prevent or relieve knee injury, lower back pain, & most lower-limb joint disorders.
By health, we mean not only being free from illness, but an ability to sleep soundly, to work energetically, to think clearly, and to be calm yet alert. By fitness, we mean not just the physical strength to do heavy work, but the ability to react quickly, to endure hard work, and to concentrate for a long time without mental fatigue.
TAIJIQUAN (TAI CHI CHUAN) AS MOVEMENT MEDITATION
MEDITATION FOR HEALTH
TaiJi is a mind-body practice that originated in China as a martial art. Although a martial art, as in the case of all Chinese Internal Martial Arts, the fusion of Qi Gong (Energy Skill) exercises and martial techniques being expressed through the medium of Taoist philosophy allows practitioners to receive many health benefits regardless of whether they are interested in the martial aspects or not. First and foremost of these benefits, is an increased awareness of, and increased flow of, Qi within the human body.
The meditative awareness brought about by keeping the mind calm, introspective, and calm following the softness and evenly continual movements of the form allows the mind to concentrate on what’s going on within the body, as well as without.
Practitioners of Qi Gong are taught breath control as the foundation of all techniques. This acts as a foundation for the mind’s movements within the practice of the Qi Gong techniques. This also yields the immediate benefits of the controlled expulsion of respiratory toxins such as CO2 while increasing the amount of O2 and other nutrients being taken into the system. With a much greater amount of oxygen in the system, the mind and body both become calm and quiet which is an obvious benefit in today’s society. Beginners immeditaly notice these changes occuring, and even recognizing that you’re taking steps to improve your health can act as an aid throughout the entire process.
INTERNAL ORGAN MASSAGE
The muscles of the chest cavity expand and contract acting as a method of massaging the internal organs. This massage also helps the digestive system work much better.
STRENGTH FLEXIBILITY COORDINATION
More outward physical benefits are obvious as well. It doesn’t take long to notice an increase in balance, muscle strength, flexibilty, and hand eye coordination. The amount of aerobic activity is also completely under your control, so you’re able to cater your exercise to your personal goals and interests.
It goes without saying that untill you’ve attempted to do Anything, perform any physical activity in slow motion, you have no idea how beneficial such practice can be! This type of movement creates a highly refined sense of motor skill/response activity, and when using any method of self defense (especially Internal martial arts and the premises upon which it’s methods and techniques are predicated) balance is a baseline necessity.
LIST OF DIRECT BENEFITS OF TAIJI PRACTICE
-Improved muscular strength occurs immediately as a side effect of having to control your body through the range of motion exercises, and the stabilization necessary cannot be overstated.
-The reduction of physical stress that exercise produces, combined with the mindset and mental exercises that Taoist Meditation teach are absolutely fantastic for reducing mental and emotional stress! Even persons who do not think of themselves as ‘stressed out’ have always noted that their ability to enter good, restful sleep improved greatly.
-Mental, Spiritual, and Emotional Bliss. Practice combined with the study of Taoism brings a person to a state of internal balance between mind and spirit which manifests outward.
-TaiJi offers relief from general pain and stiffness. Arthritis is best managed by movement of the joints, and the slow and even movement of TaiJi is Ideal for this purpose.
-For persons who may be turned off by the environment, or work required for more physically demanding forms of exercise, but are still looking for a way to maintain a balanced state of health. Because you are standing upright and changing postures constantly, it is an excellent body-weight exercise!
-Because the stepping is so controlled, one leg is always on the floor at all times, making it a low-impact exercise.
-Even though it is a slow-motion form of exercise, it is exercise nonetheless and it is very effective at fighting osteoperosis by strengthening the bones.