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             29 January, 2020
 

    
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The Art of Tai Chi

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2010-02-07 05:38:04     
Article by Leslie Glanville

What is the art of T'ai Chi and how is it practiced? T'ai Chi is a Chinese system of boxing exercises and meditative movements that dates back to ancient times. Meaning "supreme ultimate fist," Tai Chi Chuan originated as a form of martial art. But rather than relying on the swift aggressive kicks and power punches that are seen in various other forms, it incorporates slow, thoughtful, nuanced movements to confound attackers and opponents.

It is believed that a monk named Chang Seng Feng was the founder. According to legend, Master Chang once dreamed that a crane and a snake were ensnared in a fight. Regarding the dream as a divine sign, he launched a study of it and developed the 13 postures that comprise T'ai Chi. This early beginning of Tai Chi has developed into the art practiced today.

A few years after Master Chang presented his 13 movements, numerous other masters created their own unique forms. As a result, a variety of styles became popular, with three particular types favored: the Chen, Yang and Wu styles. Of these three, the Yang form became a favorite; meanwhile even more styles continued to emerge and had their own followers.

Is Tai Chi popular today? For the most part, the combat aspect is no longer practiced. Ancient martial arts like these require full-fledged commitment and discipline if the learner is to excel, but nowadays many students take a more casual approach and find it hard to maintain an interest in Kung Fu and other forms of Chinese martial arts. Added to that, it's a reality that Chinese martial arts masters choose only the best students to work with - another factor that has led to the slow demise of the martial art over the past decade or so.

How is Tai Chi regarded in modern times? Interestingly, while it has lost a lot of its appeal as a martial art, many people are practicing it as part of their health and exercise regimen. Many people began registering for classes at dojos, or schools, and as a result the demand for Tai Chi masters escalated. Now there are government-sponsored training centers for the public. It's not uncommon to see groups of Tai Chi practitioners in parks and other quiet spots.

Is there a single definition for Tai Chi? Above all else, it is a martial art, developed in ancient China. That's an indisputable fact. The flowing, gentle moves of T'ai Chi belie the genuine strength and power of this martial art form. The number of moves in a various form range from 24, to 40, to 108, and carrying them out properly demands heightened concentration and physical effort. But these are the elements that have made Tai Chi such an effective exercise workout, as they are similar to strenuous aerobics routines.

The ancient art continues to have an endless number of uses even today. And while it is rarely used for combat purposes, Tai Chi is a widely practiced in a number of other ways and continues to be appreciated.

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