Tai Chi is both a meditation and martial art. It teaches self-defense while increasing flexibility and strength.
It is also meant to improve the flow of energy, or ‘Qui,’ through the body. It has a variety of physical, mental, and spiritual health benefits to offer. Tai Chi can be a very fulfilling hobby and enhance your very quality of life.
Learn more about it, below!
What is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi is both a meditation and martial art. It’s meant to incorporate the body, the mind, and the spirit. The name Tai Chi is actually short for Tàijí quán. Tàijí means ‘supreme ultimate,’ or ‘cosmos’ (incorporating Yin and Yang), and quán simply means, ‘palm,’ ‘fist,’ or box.’ Many take up Tai Chi for the peace of mind it can offer!
What Are the Benefits of Tai Chi?
So, what are some of the benefits of Tai Chi? There are many! Tai Chi:
- Provides stress relief. The slow movements, precision, and overall discipline that are key to Tai Chi have a very relaxing effect on both the body and the mind. It is immensely peaceful and will promote potentially longevity-enhancing stress relief.
- Makes the immune system stronger. Tai Chi focuses on freeing up energy and helping it to flow. This will give your energy body, including your immune system, a boost.
- Supports the heart. The gentle motion of Tai Chi improves circulation, which consequently supports heart health. The increased energy flow is also very good for the heart.
- Uplifts the spirit. Tai Chi is all about promoting harmony between the mind, body, and soul. It is intended to both elevate the body and uplift the spirit. You will likely experience a sense of light-heartedness, peacefulness, and good cheer!
- Improves balance. Tai Chi is a low-impact way to improve balance, as it takes you through forms that gently put your stabilization muscles and joints to work.
- Improves posture. Tai Chi will improve your posture as it strengthens your back.
- Strengthens the body. In fact, Tai Chi will strengthen the entire body. Through a series of stretches and forms, it puts nearly all of the muscle groups to work.
- Enhances flexibility. Several forms in Tai Chi entail a stretch of some sort. Over time, this can greatly enhance your flexibility (and even mobility).
The 5 Styles of Tai Chi
- Chen. Chen Tai Chi is the source of all of the 5 modern styles of Tai Chi. It was developed by Chen Wangting in 1670. It includes low-level forms, medium-level forms, and high-level forms, based upon how much you can bend your knees and your mobility in general. In this way, it is accessible to many. Chen Tai Chi focuses on interchanging slow forms and fast, powerful ones (which even include strikes, kicks, and jumps).
- Yang. Whereas Chen focuses on swiftness, Chen focuses on exaggerated, wide movements. It is quite expansive and graceful and excellent for flexibility. The style was developed by Yang Lu-ch’an, who then taught it to the Chinese Imperial guards in 1850.
- Wu. Wu style Tai Chi is not as focused as Chen or Yang on remaining in one point. Rather, there are more steps both backward and forward. At the same time, these moves are small and compact. Wu style Tai Chi was developed by a martial cadet, who originally learned from Yang Lu-ch’an and then adapted it himself.
- Sun. Sun style Tai Chi resembles nothing so much as a graceful dance. It was developed by Sun Lutang in the 1900s. He had already mastered two other martial art styles, Xingyiquan and Baguazhang, prior. He incorporated elements of both into his own Sun style of Tai Chi.
- Hao. Hao style Tai Chi is not particularly popular, as it focuses less on physical movement and more on the manipulation of one’s own Qui (energy or life force). It involves high-level techniques and is not generally considered suitable for a beginner!
The History of Tai Chi
The Tai Chi we know was developed by Chen Wangting, in roughly 1670. The style was made from a combination of Quigong and martial art concepts, sometimes known as ‘Chen Style Tai Chi.’ Its roots go even deeper, however.
In fact, Tai Chi stems from ancient Taoism, which embodies yin and yang, light and dark. It’s all about finding balance within these two aspects of the self.
Are There Tai Chi Classes?
There are Tai Chi classes almost everywhere. You can find these on a local street corner or do a search for places nearby.
In an on-site Tai Chi class, you can learn alongside other students and go through the forms together. You can also bring friends of your own. Your teacher will be available for questions, and to offer feedback.
On-site classes are $10-$30 a day, on average, though some can cost as much as $100 a day.
There are also online classes if you prefer not to be around so many people (or if there’s simply nowhere nearby). These typically entail video guides, which you can follow at home or anywhere you’ve got a laptop, PC, or TV.
The price of online classes also varies, but they tend to be a bit more affordable. So, the best kind of classes for you depends on both your personal preferences and your budget.
Is Tai Chi Done Indoors or Outdoors?
Tai Chi can be done indoors or outdoors. Indoors, you will have privacy and quiet. Outdoors, you will have the beauty of nature, sunlight, and fresh air.
This will also depend, of course, on your outside environment, and the weather. For outdoor classes, it is highly recommended to visit somewhere peaceful like a park or forest.
If you’re wondering whether classes are held indoors or outdoors, this really varies, so you’ll have to ask your specific teacher!
Is Tai Chi a Solo or Group Activity?
You can do Tai Chi in a group or by yourself. Some consider it an ideal social activity, with like-minded individuals. Others value their solitude. Or, you can do Thai Chi on your own most of the time, but join a class occasionally.
Can Kids do Tai Chi?
Tai Chi is suitable for all ages, as it is a low-impact activity. It can help anyone improve their health and athleticism, and offer priceless peace of mind and stress relief.
As you can see, Tai Chi is a deeply-rooted martial art form that has a great deal to offer! It will improve your overall well-being, leaving you feeling more energized and stronger. So, what do you think? Do any of the 5 Tai Chi styles catch your eye?