My Journey into Tai Chi For the past month and a half, once a week I go to my Tai Chi session. I took Tai Chi is a way for me to lightly exercise during my first year in college. In the beginning I found Tai Chi to be a little difficult and at times I was unsure what exactly I was supposed to do. Prior to my weekly sessions, I had no knowledge of martial arts. I’ve never even heard of Tai Chi. Attending all my Tai Chi classes, reading Master C. K Chu’s book Why Tai Chi? Questions & Answers, and my own research on the internet has helped me better understand the martial art.
To understand Tai Chi, you must first know what exactly Tai Chi is. On the first day of class, I went in thinking this would be a class where I would get to learn how to do Kung Fu like I’ve seen Jackie Chan do in his movies. As soon as the class started I learned this was not the case. Tai Chi, an ancient Chinese martial art, uses slow movements and deep breathing. Tai Chi provides self-defense. Most of the martial arts styles people see in movies and read about in comic books are based on external arts. In external arts the person strengths the body from the outside.
This is done through rigorous and tough training. This yang style of martial arts uses force. In a fight, a person who practices yang style thinks he or she can defeat the opponent because they are stronger. There is no room for flexibility. If the martial artist is strong, the martial artist would win. If the opponent is strong, the opponent will win. The weaker one in yang style doesn’t win. Tai Chi is an internal art. It uses yin instead of yang. Yin style of martial arts is to exhaust the opponent and strike when they are weak.
It could also be translated as flow with the opponent, and use the power of the opponent’s attack against them. Tai Chi strives to achieve balance. Steven D. Ehrlich writes in his article “Tai Chi” for the University of Maryland Medical, “Tai chi is based on spiritual and philosophical ideas that advocate a need for balance in the body, mind, and spirit. ” Ehrlich that the purpose of Tai Chi is get balance in the body, mind, and spirit. Tai Chi is an exercise. Unlike body building, where people usually bulk up by lifting weights, Tai Chi promotes the use of the entire body.
Usually when I exercise, which is mostly weight lifting, my arms and legs are sore. After my first day of Tai Chi I was surprised when I woke up the next day and found out that my entire body was sore. Tai Chi. In our bodies, according to Tai Chi, we have something called qi (chee). Qi is a person’s life energy. Qi can become blocked if the body is stiff or rigid and not relaxed. Tai Chi allows the body to relax. The eight principles of Tai Chi allow qi to freely flow throughout the body without getting blocked. Chapter one of Master C. K. Chu’s book Why Tai Chi?
Questions & Answers focuses on what Tai Chi is. Master Chu first explains to us what Tai Chi is. According to Master Chu, Tai Chi is an “ancient Chinese martial arts system… that has both self- defense applications and health benefits” (Chu 7). Tai Chi’s ighting style is to flow with the opponent and using the opponent’s power to counterattack. This applies to the self- defense aspect of Tai Chi, but what are the health benefits? Practicing Tai Chi makes the body so it is more flexible and strong. Practicing Tai Chi helps us relax and that makes it easier for our minds to focus.
Essentially Tai Chi, if practiced daily, can relieve stress and make our minds alert. The origin of the Tai Chi is unknown. Master Chu stated in Tai Chi Chuan Principles & Practice, “the origin is uncertain. by the time the effective of a new system is widely recognized, a few generations have gone y” (Chu 8). Master Chu says that it is hard to determine when exactly a martial arts was created or used first. Martial arts is recognized after it becomes widely known and that can take generations to happen. So the first instance of Tai Chi is unknown like many other martial arts.
It is said that martial arts was created by observing animals. Monk’s observed animals fighting. They observed strong animals and animals won fights even when they were weak. This is why many moves are named after animals, “White Crane Style, Tiger Style, or Praying Mantis Style” (Chu 7). Jackie Chan Adventures, an animated show that xplored the idea of ancient Chinese culture and martial arts, had a character named Hak Foo. He screamed animal names during his action sequences with Jackie Chan. As a kid I never understood why he screamed animal names. Reading about the origins brought back the memory of Hak Foo.
And his dialogues finally made sense. It is said that Tai Chi was created when a Taoist monk saw a fight between a crane and a snake. Tai Chi was created when the monk saw how the crane and snake bobbed and weaved from their opponent. Tai Chi lets the opponent exhaust their energy by redirecting the opponent’s attacks. Taoism plays a big part in Tai Chi. Tao means the “law of the universe” (Chu 9). The Ancient Chinese wanted to find out the reasons why things happen. Taoism is the name given to this belief of questioning things, to find out the reasons to why something happened.
Humans understand nature by observing it. Taoism is the scientific way of life. It’s the pursuit of knowledge and the betterment of the body. Taoists have a realistic view on life. They believe that life should be lived to the fullest and for the pursuit of happiness. Living life to the fullest is living for as long as the body can live. This is the health aspect of Taoism. In order to live for as long as a body can survive, a person needs to be healthy. Tai Chi helps one achieve the health aspect of Taoism. The four pillars of Tai Chi are Eternal Spring, Meditation, Tai Chi, and Nei Kung.
Meditation and Tai Chi have health benefits that can increase the lifespan. Taoism and Tai Chi are similar. Taoism understands the world by observation. In Tai Chi, one must observe the opponent and decide the best course of action or fighting style. Tai Chi, with its flexibility, allows us to defeat any type of opponent. Taoism has been turned into a religion. Some of the monks who have achieved great things in their lives become immortals in the religion. Master Chu doesn’t believe in Taoism as a religion. I agree with Master Chu. Taoism’s whole idea is to find out about the world by observing it.
Those monks who achieve great things shouldn’t be worshipped life gods; they should be seen as role models. Followers of Taoism should see those monks and try to pursue a similar scientific life of discovering the reasons behind the world. Tai Chi, unlike the external martial arts, is better for the body in the long run. In external martial arts, the body is trained and olded to the peek condition. Now I highly doubt that a person can maintain peek condition for the rest of their life. External martial arts at the beginning strengthens your body but at the end the strength burns away.
Tai Chi on the other hand heals the body. In Tai Chi, the body isn’t pushed to the limit. One of Tai Chi’s main points is improving health. Master Chu believes “Tai Chi is… the highest evolution of martial arts” (Chu 9) because of the healing properties of Tai Chi. He later goes on to say. “Many who study external arts for a long time turn to tai chi for healing” (Chu 9). Tai Chi will remain an important part of the world because of its ability to heal. Martial artists who performed other martial arts turned to Tai Chi at the end because their martial arts has left them burned up.
Tai Chi strengthens the body as well as help the body. Lineage used to play a big role in martial arts. Martial arts was first used as a defense against invaders in a village. Each family had a style of martial arts. A way of fighting that was passed down through the family. In those time people were secretive about their techniques. They didn’t want outsiders to find out about them. Lineage is passing down these secret techniques to the next generation. Usually family members would teach their children and maybe the neighbors, and the cycle went on and on.
Lineage now is not entirely focused on blood ties. The master decides who he wants to teach his teachings to. The master’s disciples are his heirs. Tai Chi, as I stated earlier, has health benefits. Steven D. Ehrlich talks about his health aspects of Tai Chi in his article “Tai Chi. ” Tai Chi’s slow movements uses “all the major muscle groups and joints. ” This means the entire body is getting worked out. The entire body is being strengthened. By practicing Tai Chi, one improves their “balance, agility, strength, flexibility, stamina, muscle tone, and coordination. This part of Tai Chi is extremely important. Tai Chi essentially is used for fighting.
If someone comes at you, Tai Chi allows you to observe your opponent and, using the improvements listed above, stop the opponent. Meditation and deep breathing are also important in Tai Chi. Ehrlich claims mediation can help concentration and reduce anxiety. Deep breathing increases your lung capacity and it helps you become more alert. Overall Tai Chi is an important treasure in this world. Not only oes it help make the body stronger but it also can help rejuvenate.
My experience with Tai Chi has been great. Although it has only been only been a little while since I started Tai Chi, I can feel the qi at my fingertips. According to Sifu Schwindt, that is a good thing. l am excited to see how much I can learn about Tai Chi. Learning self-defense is never a bad idea. And learning Tai Chi is like winning jackpot because it can be used against all types of fighting style dues to its flexible nature. I’m still a little unsure about the health benefits. If I keep practicing, I might see proof of the health benefits myself.