T’ai Chi has three primary styles: Wu, Chen and Yang. At Red Lotus School of Movement, we practice Yang style. It has existed roughly 300 years, the foundation of T’ai Chi goes back approximately 3,000 years.
What is T’ai Chi? Loosely translated it means the grand ultimate or supreme ultimate. The visual of T’ai Chi is the well-known Yin/Yang symbol, which represents the opposites of each other. It shows the relationship of Yin & Yang and illustrates interdependence on Yin & Yang. Nothing is totally Yin or totally Yang.
Examples of Yin = moon, woman, intuition, soft
Examples of Yang = sun, man, physical, hard
T’ai Chi is the unity of the physical and metaphysical aspects conjoined together, in a harmonious and balanced fashion. They are in constant movement—we live in a multi-verse that is in constant movement. Our own physical body is in constant movement, it is ever changing. The grand ultimate or supreme is the balance of these two opposites.
When we are standing we’re in movement, when we are in movement there’s stillness. Sometimes it is said, T’ai Chi is meditation in motion, or as the famous Master Cheng Man-ch’ing said, “T’ai Chi is swimming on dry land.”
Harvard Medical School states, “This gentle form of exercise can prevent or ease many ills of aging and could be the perfect activity for the rest of your life.” In fact, they have a whole article on the health benefits of T’ai Chi, click here to read more.
T’ai Chi is a system that brings about the balance of our awareness of our physical and mental bodies. It’s great for everyone because it is low-impact, not aerobic. T’ai Chi is a system of relaxed movement in relationship to the spacial plane and how we move in our gravitational field.
T’ai Chi is a more internal system, where karate is a more external system. In T’ai Chi, we start to learn the advantages of softness, and how it is permeated with strength. The word chi can be translated as internal wind, energy, and life force. When we were born, we were given an x-amount of chi from our mother and our father. As we go through life, we either cultivate this chi or erode it away.
You may be eroding your chi due to lack of sleep, stress, over-extending one’s self, negativity, etc. The practice of T’ai Chi will cultivate your chi.
T’ai Chi is not just about raising your hand, and moving slowly, it’s more about knowing the concepts and metaphysical aspects that support the raising of your hand, then it becomes T’ai Chi. We begin to develop when we find out how to bring the physical and metaphysical aspects together.
It is a slow-process, now this doesn’t mean it’s excruciating, it means to slow down, get off the tread mill of life, so-to-speak. Step outside our normalcy of activities and find stillness within, bringing more clarity and calmness into our everyday life.
So, what’s the best way to know and feel this T’ai Chi? Through direct experience, period. In other words, get yourself to a class, or a Qigong Workshop. [hint, hint] And, if you practice T’ai Chi [presently or have in the past], I would love to hear about your experience, please leave a comment below.