What is Tai Chi (T'ai Chi)?

Have you asked yourself "what is Tai Chi?"

(the spelling "T'ai Chi" is more official while many many people search for "Tai Chi" so it will be referred to as both throughout so that people looking for information find it regardless)

In order to really benefit from T’ai Chi (Tai Chi) there is a need to understand its historical presence as well as the philosophy itself. You can read indepthly about the subject with this book: The Essence of T’ai Chi. Here we will look into explaining Tai Chi from the viewpoint of a western member of society and not from the viewpoint of a scholar or master who may be too close to the subject to explain it simply enough for a beginner to understand. This viewpoint also serves an academic purpose in providing another point of reference for an individual to understand how T’ai Chi is perceived and practiced in the West.

This is a life practice, a way of living, that developed with the very predominant Eastern Ideal of Universal Existence. You can refer to it a few ways to get a more complete picture: the Universal Consciousness, Great Eternal, the “greatest” or “ultimate” existence. The idea is that the human mind and spirit is of unlimited potential and only confined momentarily or temporarily to a body/physical form. Many different schools of Eastern thought speak of this “oneness” when the body disappears.

T’ai chi is a bit different though than just a philosophy in that it also focuses on the physical, the form we exist in right now and carry with us from day to day. It strove to find a way of living and practice that could be shared and participated in my all member of society that would encourage a continual growth toward the “ultimate.” This is when a person becomes enlightened.

Now this practice carries more of an oral tradition in the sense that not a large amount of writing appears explaining its development but was passed down from person to person, the forms being taught by a master to the pupil(s). The very nature of not having a written down discipline is that it is a living and evolving practice. As more people participate and bring in their viewpoint the forms and movements take on new meaning to the society.

The beauty is that the practice itself, around the ideal of tai chi energy, enhances all areas of your life as well. So that not only will you get closer to the “ultimate” but the journey there will be more fluid and enjoyable.

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