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Introduction to TAI CHI CHUAN
Ever since the early 19th century, Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan has been practiced worldwide and continues to be the one of, if not the most, effective and brilliant forms of Chinese martial arts ever to be conceived. Taking the entire body into consideration, Tai Chi Chuan is a comprehensive practice that has been used across the world as exercise, medicine, meditation and self defense.
(*Source: Bronson Park Tai Chi Chuan – the Los Angeles branch of the N.T.C.C.A. (National Tai Chi Chuan Association. http://taichila.com/)
To understand Tai Chi Chuan*
Tai Chi Chuan as a healing art:
Firstly, Tai Chi is more internal activity instead of external body movement. It emphasizes working on Dan-Tian which is your abdominal or core area. The correct internal movement results in the internal organs deep massage that effectively cleanse your body.
Secondly, Tai Chi is a breathing activity. It is a deep breathing exercise that optimizes your lung capacity and oxygenates each cell of your body to keep it healthy. When you inhale, you feel as if you're breathing deep into your bones. When you exhale, you breathe out as if through your skin and hair.
Thirdly, it is a mental activity. Tai Chi is a moving meditation that puts your mind and body in perfect unison. You practice Tai Chi very slowly – the purpose of the slowness is to develop a keen awareness of your body and your movement. Qigong is a name given to a well-known set of breathing and meditation exercises in China. Tai Chi is an advanced Qigong exercise.
Tai Chi focuses on "two big bones areas" in practice:
The first is your pevic bone area that is Dantian (your core area slightly below the navel, the term means “life essence field” or “sea of qi”). Tai Chi is an internal exercise that focuses on this area as a type of deep internal massage – in traditional Chinese medicine and Tai Chi, the Dantian is the seat of one's life energy, and is considered the foundation of rooted standing, breathing, and body awareness, and is also crucial to health and wellbeing.
The second area is your spine. Tai Chi Chuan has specific techniques to work on your spine to keep it healthy and in good shape. One of the key techniques is to “open” your Mingmeng (the small of the back – the word means “life gate” in Chinese). Tai Chi Chuan practitioners train themselves to be their own chiropractors; if your spine is in good shape, you generally enjoy good health.
As a martial art:
Tai Chi Chuan is also a martial art focusing on mental strength and internal physical strength. It emphasizes being calm, alert, and relaxed.
Regarding physical strength, Tai Chi develops two basic martial abilities: one is “rooting,” the other is heightened sensitivity or awareness. Rooting makes you stand firm while heightened sensitivity enables you to respond quickly to neutralize any incoming force.
Tai Chi Chuan used to be called shadow boxing because you play with an imaginary opponent when you do solo practice. Each movement has a martial meaning with each part of your body being trained as a weapon for self-defense.
Besides solo practice, Tai Chi also has two-person drills known as “pushing hands” or tuishou. In these exercises you learn to sense your partner's intention and find his weak points while concealing your intended movements and maintaining your balance.
Tai Chi Ch'uan is also called “culture boxing” because of its richness. By learning Tai Chi, you become familiar with traditional Chinese medicine, philosophy, and the wisdom of China's five thousand year history.
(*Source TAI CHI ACADEMY OF LOS ANGELES. https://www.tai-ji.net)
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