Tai Chi is based on Qigong and martial art techniques from thousands of years ago. Yang style Tai Chi is the most common but in recent years, Sun style has become better known in the western world. It is also easiest to learn regarding its physicality. Tai Chi is also known as Shadow Boxing. Its name is derived from the philosophical term Tai Chi which first appeared in the Book of Changes over 3000 years ago. In this book it says 'in all changes exist Tai Chi, which causes the two opposites in everything.' Tai Chi means the ultimate of the ultimate and is often used to describe the vastness of the universe.
The essential principles of Tai Chi are based on the ancient philosophy of Taoism, which stresses the natural balance in all things and the need for living in spiritual and physical accord with the patterns of nature. According to this philosophy, everything is composed of two opposite, but entirely complementary elements...the yin and yang....both working in a relationship which is in perpetual balance. It is this balance that makes Tai Chi so effective. Chen is the oldest and Sun is the youngest of the five major Tai Chi styles. Sun style is the form of Tai Chi little Quigley will study, at least to start with.
The creator of Sun style Tai Chi, Sun Lu-tang, was about 50 years old when he developed this new system and was already a well-know expert of two other internal styles. Sun style, while being new, also embraces these other to styles as well. Sun style has a higher stance, less kicking and punching which makes it perfect for older practitioners, as well as those looking for a milder form of exercise. And while it may not be as spectacular in its outward appearance, once a practitioner passes through the surface it is easy to get hooked by its depth.
Using the mind to direct the movements, both the Chen and Sun styles emphasize Tai Chi as an internal art with the conscious mind (yi) directing the Qi (energy), and the Qi to control the internal force (jin), and the internal force to move the body. Tai Chi's inner power is elastic and spiral. With Tai Chi, the body posture is upright without being tense, the chin is slightly tucked in, and the crown of the head is gently pushed upward, loosing all the joints.
Tai Chi strengthens both the body and the mind and is considered to be a healthy form of exercise. To be efficient in martial arts, one must be strong to deliver force, and be able to absorb incoming force. The head needs to be clear to concentrate. Being strong with a clear head is something I think would benefit most frogs, and humans, in today's world. I am so excited to attend this demonstration on Saturday that I am thinking seriously of taking up Tai Chi, alongside my little brother.
Whatever your plans are for this first fall weekend, I hope it includes some time outside and, perhaps, a little physical and mental exercise. Now, I'm off to get a head start on practicing my Sun Salutation.