Tai Chi – What is T’ai Chi Chuan (Taijiquan)?
At a pratical level, Taiji (T’ai Chi in the old Wade-Giles romanization), or more properly, Taijiquan (T’ai Chi Chuan), offers people an efficient system for learning how to listen to/perceive their bodies in order to avoid incorrect weight loading and at the same time to better manage existing tensions. In Taijiquan you learn to develop, coordinate and take maximum advantage of the potential of your body, you mind and your spirit through a training process that consists of slow, fluid and interconnected movements, seeking a harmony that involves the entire body in each movement. This research of harmony in movement and continuous involvement of the whle body during practice renders Taijiquan an excellent form of exercise for evryone at any age; seeing 90 year old, if not older, Masters moving with agility and full of energy gives you a good idea of the type of benefits Taijiquan brings to those who practice it. Unlike yoga and other semi-static psycho-motor exercises seeking mind-body equilibrium, Taijiquan teaches you to do this in movement, allowing you to apply the essons learned in everyday life. Furthermore, it tends to reduce stress levels to the great advantage of body and mind. In fact, Taijiquan is often defined as “meditation in movement” due to its singular approach to the mind-body relationship. Taiji originated in antiquity as a martial art based on the same philosophy that is the root of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). According to this philosophy, before the universe and creation there was a state of non-existence pregnant with all future possibilities called “Wuji”, where “wu” signifies “nothing” or “non” and “ji” signifies “polarity” (therefore, a state of non polarity, or non-existence) usually symbolized by an empty sphere. At the moment any form of effectivity (a thought, a movement, any form of matter or energy, etc.) begins, you pass from a state of non-existence to existence. In that moment, Wuji divides into the primary state of existence called Taiji, represented by the symbol commonly referred to as “Tao” o “Dao” composed of the two opposite yet complimentary forces called Yin e Yang.By adding the character “quan” (“fist” or “martial art”), to the characters “tai” and “ji” we get the name Taijiquan, in other words, the martial art based on the dynamic balance between the forces represented by Yin (shade, substance, looseness, passivity, etc.) and Yang (light, energy, muscular force, aggressivity, ecc.).Scientific research in prestigious universities has revealed that thanks to documented effects Taijiquan can be a valid help in the treatment and prevention of numerous pathologies including cardiovascular, muscular-scheletrical, immunitary and many other pathologies. In particular, the cardiovascular benefits make Taijiquan very useful in the pathologies of this system, while the increase in proprioception renders Taijiquan useful in al those pathologies where balance and the mind-body connection have been compromised, such as in Parkinson’s. As children we learn to walk through experimentation, without ever receiving proper instruction on the correct way to manage our body’s weight in an erect position. When factors arise that obstruct normal deambulation, learning how to walk again, but in a controlled and proper manner starting with the exact perception of our own weight which is developed by practicing Taijiquan can be a valid partial or total solution. In the same way it can help alleviate many of the deambulatory problems associated with advanced age and/or Parkinson’s.Furthermore, the coordination of breathing, concentration and total body movement in a harmonious manner in Taijiquan allows anyone to establish an improved mind-body relationship.
Copyright 2011 Oriental Health Academy