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Tai Chi

Tai chi, also known t’ai chi or taiji, is a Chinese martial art that is practiced due to its defence training and health benefits. People also practice it for a wide range of other reasons; its longevity, since it is a hard and soft martial art and demonstration competitions. For this reason, there are a variety of training forms (both traditional and modern) that exist and which correspond with the aims. Some tai chi’s training forms are particularly known for being practiced at what many people refer to as slow movement.

While most other forms of martial arts require that students wear a uniform during practice, tai chi schools generally do not require a uniform .However, instructors often advocate for loose, comfortable clothing as well as flat-soled shoes.

Оrigin of Tai Chi

Tai chi originated from ancient China and was initially a martial art and a means of self-defense. Later, people started using it for health purposes as well. The origins of materials now identified as Tai Chi are associated with three related but separate traditions.

Оne popular myth says that Tai Chi was developed by a Daoist alchemist called Zhang San Feng and who was reportedly variously born in 960, 1247 and 1279 ad. But Zhang San Feng is said to be the originator of Tai Chi. He is mentioned in the preface to the Tai Chi Chuan classics that were assembled by Wu Yuxiang (1812 – 1880) and his brothers.

Styles of Tai Chi

There are five major styles of Tai chi. These are:

Chen Style

This is the oldest of the traditional styles. Іt is characterized by silk reeling, bursts of power and alternating fast or slow motion and bursts of power.

Yang Style

This is the most popular and widely practised style today. Yang movements are even, slow, gentle, big and large.

Wu Style

This is the second most popular tai chi style. It offers a balance of energizing, focusing movements, with calming and centering.

Sun Style

This is popular for its smooth, flowing movements .it’s footwork is distinct from those of other styles; one foot will advance or retreat and the other follows.

Wu (Hao) Style

This is the fifth of the tai chi styles in terms of popularity. Wu (Hao) is smooth, slow and small, with a high posture.

These styles are named after the Chinese families from which they originated. They have a similar underlying theory but use different approaches in training.

Today, there are numerous new styles, hybrid styles as well as offshoots of the major styles. These include:

Fu Style (created by Fu Chen Sung)

This styleevolved from Yang, Chen and Sun styles and adopts movements of Pa Kua Chang.

Zhaobao Style

Although almost similar to Chen Style, this style has been recognized by western practitioners as a distinct style.

Elements of Tai Chi Training

Tai chi training typically involves five elements.

Taolu – solo hand and weapons forms or routines

Tuishou – response drills

Sanshou – is basically about self defence techniques

Neigong & Qigong – breathing, movement and awareness exercises and meditation

While most people typify tai chi for its slow movements, many of the tai chi styles including Yang and Wu often have secondary forms of faster pace. Some traditional tai chi schools even teach partner exercises called tuishou (“pushing hands”), and the martial applications of the forms or postures of the taolu.

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