What is Tai Chi?

Monday, June 13, 2016
What is Tai Chi?

Tai Chi (Taijiquan in Chinese meaning “Supreme Ultimate Fist”) is literally an internal Chinese Martial Art that has been practiced in China for both its self-defence training and health benefits since the 16th Century.

Although it is a branch of the Chinese Martial Arts (Wushu), today it is predominately practiced for wellbeing including the prevention or improvement of illness and disease, and the stresses and strains of modern living. Taijiquan training usually involves several elements including Neigong (內功; breathing exercises, meditation and internal skills), Taolu (套路; forms training with both weapons and bare-hand), Sanshou (散打; self-defence techniques), and Tuishou (推手; Push Hands). Due to its diverse history, there are a multitude of training forms and practices, both traditional and modern. However, there are seven accepted styles of Tai Chi in the modern lexicon. They are Chen, Yang, Wu, Wu (Hao), Sun, He and Dong Yue. Yang style is the most popular style and the one you are most likely to have seen being practiced for health and wellbeing.

The study of Taijiquan comprises three key aspects:


The slow and gentle movements promote harmony in mind and body, thereby improving mobility, suppleness and mental alertness. There are many positive studies linking the practice of Taijiquan to improvements in sufferers of heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, asthma, stroke, ADHD and depression, to name a few.


The focus and calmness cultivated by the practice of Taijiquan creates a meditative state that reduces stress, thereby leading to improved immune system function and homeostasis in the body. It has also been seen to improve concentration and memory function in many practitioners.

Martial Art

The ability to see Taijiquan as a martial art test’s the practitioner’s self-awareness and self-respect. It leads to improvements in human relationships and an improved response to outside forces.

In summary, with a good taijiquan instructor, you should be able to develop inner quietness, mental focus, physical relaxation, general health improvement, muscular control and self-discipline. The gentle low impact nature of Tai Chi means it is suitable for all age groups and fitness levels. It is the one form of exercise that can be practiced and studied well in to old age.