What is Tai Chi?
The first reliable accounts of Tai Chi date back to Chen Wangting, a 16th century Royal Guard of the Chen village in Wenxian County, Henan Province. Tai Chi has evolved and developed over the centuries, spawning many variations and styles.
Tai Chi was originally developed for martial purposes and remains an effective martial art. Chen Wangting assimilated the ancient philosophical techniques of Daoyin and Tuna into his martial art routines. These techniques, together with the use of clarity of consciousness, developed into the Chen Style.
The martial art has evolved over the years into an effective means of alleviating stress and anxiety and cultivating health. It can also be used as a form of 'meditation in motion' which promotes serenity and inner peace.
Amongst the many styles of Tai Chi, the Yang form emerged from the original Chen style and the Wu style developed from the Yang.
Wu style of Tai Chi taught in our classes is a ‘small frame’ form
of Tai Chi. It is particularly good for beginners with limited
flexibility and range of movement. It also provides an interesting
counterpoint for advanced practitioners by developing power through
sophisticated internal movement.
The term Qigong (Qi Gong, Chi Kung) is made up of two Chinese words. Qi is pronounced chee and is usually translated to mean the life force or vital energy that flows through all things in the universe. Gong means 'work' as in development over a period of time, or cultivation.
The documented history of Qigong goes back approximately 2,500 years and older terms for Qigong include Nei Gong (inner work) and Yang Shen (nurturing life). It includes not only healing exercises and meditations but also any practices that contribute to physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual balance.
Qigong are exercises that combine physical postures, breathing techniques and focused intention. Some Qigong are specifically medical in purpose, either for prevention or cure. Other Qigong are used as part of martial arts systems or support for sporting performance. Some Qigong are exercises that could be considered as forms of whole body mindfulness or as pre-meditation exercises.
We teach a number of different Qigong/Nei Gong sets, each designed for different purposes but all of which work on the whole mind and body in order to cultivate physical, mental and emotional balance.
The value of Tai Chi and Qi Gong in the modern world
Tai Chi and Qi Gong/Nei Gong contain much insight into the unification of mind and body for practical purposes. These gentle forms of unified mind/body exercise develop and maintain physical, mental and emotional balance.
The strength, flexibility, and balance developed is particularly good for enhancing relaxation and reducing stress. It can help alleviate the problems caused by current and previous injuries and has the reputation of reducing the symptoms of many forms of illness.
Tai Chi is an effective martial art, and can be taught and learned for this purpose. More frequently in the modern world it is employed as a way to enhance sporting performance, moving meditation, a health exercise and a form of moving mindfulness which can be transferred into day to day activities. Qi Gong can be developed as meditations or means for promoting health. The activities of Qi Gong and Tai Chi are highly synergistic, with shared principles and much in common. The practise of Tai Chi and Qi Gong together enhances their individual effects.
Tai Chi and Qi Gong are not just an antidote for those with stressful city lives, but a means by which the negative influence of day to day stresses and historic injuries or illness can be reduced.
The practices of Tai Chi and Qi Gong are also fascinating in their own right and provide much insight into the workings of the human mind and body.