What is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi (or Taiji, Taijiquan) is a slow moving exercise system which developed from Chinese martial arts. It is often referred to as 'moving meditation' and you may have seen people practice Tai Chi in parks, or in groups at training halls, gyms or festivals. Tai Chi offers exceptional health benefits with minimal risk of injury. For this reason it has become the exercise system of choice which an increasing number of professionals refer clients to, for the maintenance of health and wellbeing. Unlike some sports or exercises, Tai Chi is suitable for people of all ages and physical ability.
A Brief History of Tai Chi
The gentle art of Tai Chi evolved from the chaos of war and martial conflict. Such contradiction and extremities, suitingly symbolised by the Yin Yang symbol, represents the basic philosophy of all Chinese martial arts. Tai Chi is also known as ‘Tai Chi Chuan’, ‘Shadow Boxing’, ‘Taiji’ and ‘Taijiquan’.
The beginnings of Tai Chi have long been a topic of debate. Popular belief has the birth of Tai Chi as early as the 8th century, while many attribute a Taoist priest Zhang Shan Feng as the founder of Tai Chi in the 15th century. Research done in the 1930s by martial arts Master and historian Tang Hao and others suggests that Tai Chi originated in the 1660s, and was developed by Chen Wang Ting of the Henan province in China. Chen was the chief of civil troops defending Wen County in the Henan province. He was skilled in martial arts, and his techniques were passed from generation to generation. Over time, his form of martial arts developed into many different styles, characterised by the people who learned and spread the skill.
These findings are supported by evidence gathered in 2007 by a team of martial arts experts, historians and folklore experts commissioned by the Chinese Folklore Association in 2007. This team performed extensive research and analysis, and concluded that Wen County is the birthplace of Tai Chi.
The 5 mainstream styles of Tai Chi are Chen, Yang, Wu, Woo and Sun. Most beginner Tai Chi classes will introduce you to Yang style Tai Chi because of its relatively simple principles, movements and posture, which makes it a great first step for beginners. Due to its long history, many styles of Tai Chi have evolved. No matter which style of Tai Chi people practise, one thing is certain – we can all benefit from the regular practice of this marvellous exercise system.
The Health Benefits of Tai Chi
The long term benefits of Tai Chi are well documented, researched & proven by universities and health organisations around the world. Because of this, a rising number of health professionals are recognising the unique benefits of Tai Chi, and advising their clients to use this exercise system to improve both their physical and mental health.
Many studies indicate that Tai Chi improves muscle tone, strength, fitness, joint flexibility, balance and co-ordination. Its deep breathing exercises promote the increase of oxygen in the blood and its circulation to vital organs. At the same time, posture is improved. In effect, this assists in increasing energy level and internal health. Common conditions which can benefit from Tai Chi practice include chronic pain, back pain, arthritis, heart disease and high blood pressure. Practicing Tai Chi calms the mind, promotes relaxation and counteracts the effects of stress. Tai Chi is a complete exercise system, addressing mind, body and spirit. It is suitable for people of all ages.
Different Styles of Tai Chi
The different styles of Tai Chi are characterised by their principles, movements and application. To give you an idea, let’s have a look at the characteristics of the 5 major styles:
Chen – The original style of Tai Chi. Movements emphasise softness with hardness. Movements are obviously circular with much spiralling. The body leads the hands, and the waist is the axis. Chen style Tai Chi is more suitable for advanced practitioners, and is a deceivingly powerful martial art.
Yang – Movements are larger and more extended. The posture is upright and full. The pace is gentle, slow and continuous, with connections between movements gentle and coherent. The force of movements is internal with tenderness and fierceness. Yang is very popular with Tai Chi beginners.
Wu – Movements and postures are compact and simple. The momentum is delicate and centred with awareness; the process of movement is consistent and rhythmic with many closings and openings. The pace is comfortable, and the mind’s focus is beyond the movements. Hands are kept upward. Each hand is concerned with movements of its own side of the body.
Woo – Movements are moderately wide, compact and balanced; the momentum is elegant and refined, delicate and agile. Connection between movements is fine and smooth, natural and relaxed; the speed is constant and continuous without intervals in between. There is an emphasis on softness.
Sun – Movements are compact. This style is characterised by a high and upright posture and lively footwork. Sun style is the youngest of the 5 major styles of Tai Chi.
What will I learn at TaiChi KungFu Institute?
Tai Chi offers a lifetime of rewards and health benefits - there's no hurry, and we encourage you to savour every learning opportunity. Our Tai Chi training program is structured to cater for all levels as follows:
Tai Chi Beginners
Beginners to Tai Chi need special attention, and the best solution is to do the Power of Tai Chi program. The program will quickly increase Qi (bio-energy), improve existing health conditions and develop correct Tai Chi techniques and posture. This system is developed by Master Shao with his unparalleld expertise in Chinese Medicine and martial arts. The Power of Tai Chi program delivers the health benefits of Tai Chi faster and more effectively, than traditional Tai Chi. The program includes, but is not limited to:
- Tai Chi foundation exercises
- Tai Chi short form
- Qigong exercises
- Tai Chi Wand
Tai Chi Intermediate to Advanced Levels
Many advanced level Tai Chi students continue to practice Power of Tai Chi for the excellent health benefits, and combine or move on to traditional Tai Chi forms for recreation or competition. We teach a variety of traditional forms, and each year different forms are selected to best complement the interest and health benefits of each class group. The traditional forms we teach include:
(Click on link to see video)
- 32 Sword
- 42 Sword
- Yang 40
Learning and Practicing Tai Chi
Your Tai Chi teacher will play a very important role in guiding you. It is not just about learning a set of movements.
A good teacher will show you the foundations and how to train properly to gain maximum benefits. That is why all our instructors are carefully selected and fully qualified to teach Master Shao's internationally acclaimed Power of Tai Chi programs.
Our instructors are accredited by the Australian Sports Commission, have been technically qualified through the grading system equivalent to the International Wushu Federation standards, and fully covered by insurance.
TKI Instructors perform Tai Chi 8 at Crown Lunar Festival