Meditation and Yoga Combined
Tai chi (太极), or taij, is pronounced as ‘tai chee’. It is an ancient form of martial art based on Tao, practiced today more as a meditative exercise. You may see it as a yoga and meditation combined.
The phrase ‘tai chi’ means "ultimate energy", and can be interpreted as Tao itself. The sport is sometime also known as ‘tai chi chuan’, or 'taijiquan', with the word ‘chuan’ or ‘quan’ added to it, which mean fist or martial arts in Chinese.
I have been doing tai chi as a meditative exercise, rather than martial arts.
There are several different schools of tai chi, although the lingo they use is more or less the same. The ultimate aim of the sport is to delicately integrate your physical and mental facilities into oneness.
You may want to take note of the following when taking up tai ji:
1. Taiji is not a dance. The graceful movements are executed not for pure esthetic reasons, but to regulate your chi energy. In the case of martial art exponents, they harness the chi to fight off the enemy.
2. Taijii uses postures and alternating movements to regulate the chi energy. Execute the movement slowly, gracefully and smoothly, so that you can feel and regulate the motion of the chi energy.
3. The qi energy is generated from your postures and movements, rather than breathing. Breathe naturally. Do not control it.
4. Start doing taijiquan by emptying your mind; so that you can focus, relax and regulate the chi energy in the best manner.
Memorizing the Sequences
One of the challenges for learners of taiji is memorizing the sequences.
The movements are elegant, but involve a lot of minute details, which are difficult to remember. Do not be discouraged if this happens to you. It happens to a lot of people. For quite some time, I could do the full sequence only when I had the instructor leading.
With electronic devices easily available today, use the technology to help you. Video recording is an example. Request your instructor to record the sequences in video if possible, so that you can refer to them as and when necessary.
Know the name of each movement. The names are vivid, and sometimes associated with animals and birds, such as ‘Wild Horse parts its Mane’ and ‘White Crane spreads its Wings’. Memorizing the names helps you to see the sequences in discreet units, so that you can focus on one at a time.
Tai chi helps you to foster a calm and tranquil mind. The right execution of the postures and movements helps you to constantly acquire balance, fine-scale motor control, and align to the body's vital center. It doesn't ready matter how many movements you master, it is more important for you to benefit from every movement you execute.
In addition to tai chi, click here to read more about other Tao health tips.
Read more about tai chi for beginners.