What is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi is a gentle exercise based on the Chinese concept of Yin and Yang. In Yin and Yang, one can see duality in everything (male/female, light/dark, strong/weak, hard/soft, etc). Tai Chi harmonizes the opposite elements of Yin and Yang through various movements based on martial arts and on animals and birds. These animal and bird movement are influenced by Taoism. In Taoism, there is great admiration and respect on the natural world. It is only natural to see this in some of the movements in Tai Chi. 1
Another important aspect of Tai Chi is the idea of qi (pronounced “Chi”). Qi is the flow of energy throughout the body, which is essential to good health. Through the combination of movements, meditation, and deep breathing, the practice of Tai Chi unblocks the flow of qi. This allows the body, mind, and spirit of a person to become balanced. 2
Sanfeng Zhang, a martial artist, created Tai Chi in the late 16th century in China. Zhang had a dream, in which a snake and a crane battled. He got the idea of Tai Chi from the movements of the two animals. The movements inspired Zhang to develop a graceful, noncombatant style of martial arts, which later became known as Tai Chi. Since then, Tai Chi has been widely practiced by tens of thousands of people in China. It is introduced to the United States in the early 1970s.  Zhang created the “Thirteen Posture” of Tai Chi. 3 Today, Tai Chi is developed into five leading styles – Chen, Yang, Wu/Hao, Wu, and Sun. They all differ from the original “Thirteen Posture”. 4
The difference in the styles of Tai Chi is the speed and pace of performance between the postures and movements. For example, Chen style emphasizes on coiling movements, fast transition between postures of various speed, and an explosive release of power. In contrast, the Yang style has evenly paced moves that flow well in between postures. Today, the five leading styles of Tai Chi are Chen, Yang, Wu/Hao, Wu, and Sun. 5
Tai Chi forms are sequences of individual postures linked with a transition. Forms can have four to one-hundred and eight postures. Sometimes, it can take up to twenty minutes to perform one form. 6 All the forms are based on the same concept of Yin and Yang. In addition, all the forms seek to improve the person’s health, mind, and spirit. 7 Different Tai Chi forms include 24 Posture Forms, 37 Posture Forms, Modern Forms, Competition Forms, and Weapon Forms. Weapon forms include the use of double sword, broadsword, fan, and other tools.
To learn about Tai Chi in Bowne Park and Seward Park, please visit the following links: