Taiji (Tai Chi)
Taiji is an ancient Chinese tradition of movement systems that is associated with philosophy, physiology, psychology, geometry and dynamics. It is the slowest form of martial arts and is meant to improve the internal spirit. It is soothing to the soul and extremely invigorating.
The founder of Taiji was Zhang Sanfeng (Chang San-feng), who was a monk of the Wu Dang (Wu Tang) Monastery and lived in the period from 1391 to 1459. His exercises stressed suppleness and elasticity as opposed to the hardness and force of other martial art styles. Several centuries old, Taiji was originally developed as a form of self-defense, emphasizing strength, balance, flexibility and speed. Tai Chi also differs from other martial arts in that it is based on the Taoist religion and aims to avoid aggressive forces.
Modern Taiji includes many forms — Quan, Sword and Fan. Impacting the mind and body of the practitioners, Taiji is practiced as a meditative exercise made up of a series of forms, or choreographed motions, requiring slow, gentle movement of the arms, legs and torso. Taiji practitioners learn to center their attention on their breathing and body movements so that the exercise strengthens their overall mental and physical awareness. In a sense, Taiji is similar to yoga in that it is also a form of moving meditation, with the goal of achieving stillness through the motion and awareness of breath. To perform Taiji, practitioners have to empty their mind of thoughts and worries in order to achieve harmony. It is a great aid for reducing stress and improving the quality of life.
In China and in communities all over the world, Taiji is practiced by young and old in the early morning hours. It's a great way to bring a new and fresh day!
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