Tai Chi is the commonly seen term that is short for Tai Chi Ch’uan or TaiJiquan. Translated it means “The Supreme Ultimate.” It is rooted in martial arts and influenced by the principles of Chinese Medicine and Taoism.
According to mythical lore, a 15th century Taoist priest, Zhang Shanfeng, was observing a crane and snake fighting. While the snake was slow and earthbound, it was every bit the crane’s match. The priest realized that coldness (the snake) could overcome hotness (the crane) and that slowness could overcome fastness. He related what he saw to the Chinese concept of yin (the passive energy of life) and yang (the active energy of life) and of Qi, the life force energy that flows through all living things.
Thus, Tai Chi movements consist of co-existing active/passive elements, including
- and forward/backward.
The slow, intentional movements aid in achieving effective energy flow through the body and balance the yin and yang. The mind directs the Qi in each movement, so the energy is the primary moving force, rather than the muscles. The body learns to relax; the mind learns to focus only on the immediate moment.