My name is Paul Nathan, a fully qualified Tai Chi Instructor and I have been studying and teaching Tai Chi for over 30 years and would like to share some of my thoughts on the ancient art.
What is Tai Chi
A translation for the words 'Tai Chi' is 'Supreme Ultimate Force'. Tai Chi has three main areas of knowledge, which are Philosophy, Martial Arts and Healing. The connection between these three elements is 'Chi', which is our internal life force. So if you want a sound foundation of what Tai Chi is about, then its the three elements that increases one's chi energy.
Tai Chi as a Philosophy
Tai Chi Philosophy is based on Taoism. It is not a religion in the sense that you are expected to worship a Deity. There is no need for other religions to conflict with Toaist ideas, Toaism deals with understanding the nature of the world around us, using elements such as meditation. The 'Five Elements Theory', is another of many ways of describing the world, using the elements of Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood.
Tai Chi as a Martial Art
In Tai Chi Martial Arts you are unlikely to get injuries, as the type of contact with an opponent would be 'Pushing Hands'. Using Pushing Hands would not be to fight force with force, because in Tai Chi it is always assumed that the person you fight against will be bigger and stronger, which would result in the strongest person winning every time. This is why we use the principle of yielding. If an opponent is using force coming towards you, you should let it come and neutralise or redirect the energy. This gives the impression of effortlessly dealing with an opponent.
Tai Chi as a Healing Art
Tai Chi deals with energy development (Chi) flowing around the internal energy centres or meridians. It is initially practised mainly for its health-giving-benefits, in our society, we generally represent Tai Chi as a 'Stress-Buster'. If you have stress, you may behave in negative ways, such as stooped posture and shallow breathing. When you come to practice Tai Chi in a lesson, garden, yard etc. This automatically takes you out of a stress environment, so during practice you will be more happy, thus making you more relaxed. Tai Chi can make your mind and body more aware and alert, also building focus and concentration, looking for mental and physical harmony.
"If the body is tense, movement is restricted and becomes weak. If the body is relaxed, movement is flowing and becomes strong".