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What is Tai Chi?

As a means of keeping fit, preventing and curing diseases it has been practiced for hundreds of years.   Its prime purpose is to promote health in a slow relaxed manner, without jarring and hurting one's body. The movements are slow, with great emphasis on posture and balance.  The six major characteristics which are the goal of taichi practice are:  circular, calm, relaxed, continuous, intent, and energy.
     The exercise requires a high degree of conc
entration, with the mind free of distractions. Breathing is natural, and its performance is in rhythmic harmony with body movements.
     Originally developed as a martial art, the movements of Tai Chi were quickly recognized as being
beneficial to the body. The major emphasis of Tai Chi today is on its health benefits, although it may still be used as a system of self-defense after years of training and practice.
     Tai Chi makes an ideal complement to sports or other physical training.

What are the health benefits of practicing Tai Chi?

  • Stimulates the mind, improving concentration, focus and coordination, Chinese characters for Taijiquan
  • Increases levels of fitness and muscle tone,
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Keep the joints flexible,
  • Enhances circulation
  • Improves the function of the internal organs,
  • Enhances the function of the central nervous system,
  • Promotes a general sense of well-being.

Am I too old/young to learn Tai Chi?

There is generally no age limit with Tai Chi - both young and old can practice the art. 

What equipment do I need to practice Tai Chi?

As no sports equipment, uniform or special grounds are required, Tai Chi can be done at any time and in any place. All you need is a small amount of open space, some loose, comfortable clothing and some flat-soled shoes that won't slip off during your practice. If possible, make sure that the sole of your shoe is flexible - some running shoes are too stiff for Tai Chi practice.  I personally recommend the soft canvas wushu shoes which can be ordered online @

The Mysterious History of Tai Chi

Chinese characters for Taijiquan

The term "Tai Chi" is an accepted English equivalent of the Chinese word "Taijiquan" (Tijqun), where "Tai" means "grand" or "supreme", "ji" means "ultimate" and "quan" means "fist" or "boxing" .

 Although still vague, it is accepted that the philosophy of Tai Chi (Taoism) originated in 600BC . Historians, although unsure, say that the movements of taichi as we know now, was created in the late Ming Dynasty around 1368-1644 by a monk named Chang Shang fong.  Today there are five main styles of Tai Chi: Chen, Yang, Wu, Sun and Woo. Each style is named for the family which traditionally created the style. Although each of the five styles has characteristics of its own, the essence of all are the same. The most popular style in China today is Yang style.

Is Tai Chi Easy?

Tai Chi is generally not easy for the beginning student. While it is not physically hard or strenuous, remembering the movements and coordinating the mind with the body can be challenging. Like most art, to do it well takes a lot of physical practice and intellectual study to understand the movements and gain the maximum health benefit from the exercise.
     If you have little time to devote to your practice, but you are looking for relaxation and a pleasant, meditative feeling,  Chi Gong (Rooting Pine Energy Work) is recommended- it is easy to learn and can provide relaxation benefits
to the student immediately.

Chinese characters for TaijiquanChinese characters for Taijiquan


Last Modified: 02.19.05    Copyright 2000-2001 by Leda Elliott. All rights reserved.  Silhouette Photos by Liz Linder.   photos by Jim Madden