Tai-Chi

What is Tai Chi Chuan?

To understand Taiji Quan (Tai-chi-chuan), we should first, understand "Taiji (Tai-chi)" and the theory behind it. According to the Contemporary Chinese Dictionary, Tai-chi translates into "the Supreme Ultimate; the Absolute in ancient Chinese cosmology, presented as the primal source of all created things".

Tai-chi is the theory of yin and yang; a dynamic relationship between two opposing forces, constantly moving in a cycle. It's the interaction of Yin and Yang that creates all things. All things in existence, contain both Yin and Yang at the same time. Yin and Yang, can not exist without each other, and nothing can exist without them both.

According to the above mentioned dictionary, Tai-chi-chuan translates into "Shadow boxing; School of a popular traditional martial art marked for its slow and graceful movements that are designed to attack or counterattack, keep fit, prevent and treat disease".

Tai-chi-chuan is a martial art and a Yangsheng practice based on Tai-chi and Daoist (Taoist) theory. Tai-chi-chuan is like a laboratory, for you to safely experiment with Tai-chi and Taoist theory. It provides you with a strong foundation, for Inner Alchemy practice.

As Zhang Sanfeng put it "Tai-chi-chuan is the foundation of participating in Taoism."

When Zhang Sanfeng created Tai-chi-chuan, it is said that "he was inspired, after witnessing a fight between a snake and a swallow. The swallow was Yang in nature, attacking fiercely; the snake was Yin in nature, yielding to the swallow's attacks. However, the snake could, strike fiercely; and when doing so, the swallow would counter by yielding. The swallow attacking and snake yielding, demonstrated the balance of Yin and Yang in Tai-chi. The snake attacking and the swallow yielding, demonstrated how there is always Yin within Yang and Yang within Yin. Zhang Sanfeng then created Tai-chi-chuan based upon these principles."

In Tai-chi theory, after one force reaches its peak, it starts to turn into its opposite force, as shown by the swirls in the "Yin and Yang symbol" (Tai-chi diagram). The black swirl represents Yin-energy, which by nature is like water; condensing, sinking, inactive, and empty. The white swirl represents Yang-energy, which by nature is like fire; expansive, rising, active and full.
For example, in Tai-chi-chuan when two people practice Push-hands together, pushing is a Yang action and yielding is a Yin action. Or when one person practices Tai-chi-chuan forms, rising is a Yang action and sinking is a Yin action, advancing is a Yang action and retreating is a Yin action.

The two forces of Tai-chi oppose each other, and also compliment one another. It's their coexistence and constant opposition that create and develop life. For example, Yin is the Earth that a plant roots itself in and Yang is the Sun that the plant grows toward. Without either Yin or Yang the plant could not exist.

The theory of Tai-chi is relative and can always be broken down to a finer degree. Yin is always present in Yang and Yang is always present in Yin, as represented in the Tai-chi diagram by small dots of each in its opposite swirl. Tai-chi theory is a fundamental concept in Taoism, where it represents the cycles of the cosmos, non-absolutes and the need for balance.

Out-side of Taoism, Tai-chi-chuan forms are often practiced for their health benefits alone. These benefits include; cardio-fitness, reduced symptoms of A.D.H.D., joint pain relief, stress reduction, anxiety reduction, balance, flexibility and coordination skills, the list goes on and on.

To simply practice the forms by themselves, is just scratching the surface of a much deeper practice, with many more benefits. As Zhang Sanfeng said, "The concepts of Tai-chi need to be understood in order for you to practice Tai-chi-chuan correctly, even if you practices the forms correctly, without understanding the concepts, the practice will be in vain."

In-order to get the full benefits of Tai-chi-chuan you should combine the forms with breathing, Qi practice, push hands and Tai-chi/Taoist theory. Then with a broader understanding of Tai-chi theory and Tai-chi-chuan fundamentals, continue practicing and you'll develop a deeper understanding of life and how the universe works.

With a broader understanding of Tai-chi-chuan, you can then apply your practice to daily life and find balance and harmony with all things. As you practice Tai-chi-chuan you can physically experience the Tai-chi concepts making them real, instead of just ideas. After you have a clearer understanding of Tai-chi theory through practicing Tai-chi-chuan, applying the theory to daily life is only natural. This is participating in Taoism.

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