Initially Tai Chi began as a form of Chinese martial art totally different from the one practiced today. After hundreds of years, it gradually evolved to what we know and love as the graceful and smooth movements practiced by today’s Tai Chi masters. In fact, many of these masters are Europeans and not Chinese, although they have a deep devotion and love for this wonderful healing and mystical physical exercise that helps cultivate a total soul, body, and mind connection that increases inner peace, improves balance, tonifies, and rejuvenates.
Some of tai chi’s movements are almost meditative but incredibly strong as only an energetic, smooth, and quiet burst of pure energy can be. According to historians, Tai Chi is qi gong’s 2,500 year old descendant. It is the first Chinese self-defense healing art that helps foster inner peace. Would be attackers can be discerned and dealt with effectively, their threatening actions neutralized by an experienced and alert tai chi master who has knowledge in the use of technique of internal energy. He uses it to divert attacks by drawing just a small amount of his own energy to neutralize an attacker using a larger amount of force.
What is Qi?
The Chinese believe in the existence of life energy in the universe and the body they call Qi (pronounced chee). This Qi is believed to exist on a continuous interaction of five life-giving elements (namely earth, wood, water, metal, and fire). This belief connects all the organs of the body in much the same way as Qi’s five aspects. According to traditional Chinese belief, Qi is the inner bodily energy or life force that circulates within our bodies through energy channels called meridians. When this circulation moves freely and smoothly and qi is balanced due to the correct interface of all the five elements in the body, the body experiences optimum health.
What is Qigong?
Tai chi is believed to have come from Qigong, a discipline that integrates movement, breathing, and mind achieving a balance of peaceful energy that can be applied to fields of self-defense, professional endeavors, and leisure. Similar to Yoga, a very well-known type of holistic health principle and meditative exercise, Qigong has over 3,000 forms apart from the five major traditions that include medical, martial arts, Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism. This ancient Chinese art can be further sub-divided into “hard” and “soft” of which the latter qigong (also known as inner qigong) combines tai chi into one form.
Steven Goldfarb is a board certified and licensed acupuncturist and practitioner of alternative medicine. He is also the founder of Goldfarb Chiropractic and Acupuncture Center in West Orange, NJ.