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Tai Chi Chuan...A Brief Perspective

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TAI CHI CHUAN is a holistic and natural approach to health, longevity, meditation, and martial art through body motion. It has a tradition of at least a thousand years of practice, observation and teaching, incorporating the principles of change and relaxation embodied by Lao Tzu, and the I Ching. As Lao Tzu says in the Tao Te Ching:

Bend, and you will be whole,

Curl, and you will be straight.

Keep empty, and you will be filled,

Grow old, and you will gain.

In this verse we see the foundation of Tai Chi Chuan movement: the ability to adapt shape and mind to changing circumstance; to follow the Tao and be enriched.

The movements of Tai Chi Chuan reflect the movements of animals, and incorporate sacred movement of temple tradition. The Tai Chi Chuan postures developed in the Shao-Lin temple boxing styles. Their refinement, according to legend, took place in the Wu-Tang Mountain retreats where a Shao-Lin adept, Chang San-Feng, realized the nature of inner relaxation while watching the interactions of a snake and a crane. He saw the free flow of interior energy allowed the exterior forms to change and adapt; the flexible snake was able to avoid the crane's sharp bill.

In Tai Chi Chuan Theory, a person is born with a life essence and potential, called Ching. Through motion, essence is transformed into the complementary energies of Yin and Yang. The motions of the Tai Chi Chuan movements circulate the Yin and Yang energies through the body. When the Mind, I, realizes and follows the flow of energy, it refines and concentrates it as consciousness spreads with the flow of Chi. In this way, while performing the Tai Chi Chuan movements, the Mind and the Chi work together cultivating each other, leading to the cultivation of a higher faculty, the Shen, or Spirit.

To practice Tai Chi Chuan you need no equipment; not even a lot of space, or time; the sixty posture form takes about ten minutes to perform. As your practice matures, the interaction of breathing, shifting weight, and mental concentration interact to develop new realizations. The result is that practice continually evolves through life, and bestows its benefits through life's changes. In the West today, Tai Chi Chuan's benefits are being documented: increased balance, mobility, reaction time and alertness, as well as improved immunity to some diseases, reduced stress levels, alleviation of hypertension and other ailments.

Beyond the health benefits of Tai Chi Chuan are the general adaptive results that transfer to any other activity, sport, or martial art. The relaxed efficient motions of Tai Chi Chuan carry over into every-day activities and every-day mind. A few minutes of Tai Chi Chuan during a lunch break, or through the day, is a great way to re-energize and relax through the stress of work, hard exercise, or inactivity caused by prolonged sitting.

Sifu Jeff Zauderer