A BRIEF HISTORY OF TAI CHI
Tai Chi Chuan (or Tai Chi) dates back to the year 1247AD in the Wudang mountains of China. The story that ‘s been passed down through generations, a shortened version below reads:
‘In the Wudang Mountains a Taoist monk named Chang San Fen recognised the need for a martial art /means of defence that offered the greatest effect with minimum effort, thereby allowing a warrior to fight effectively but not exhaustively.
It is believed his concept developed after witnessing the futile efforts of a crane trying to catch and kill a snake. While the snake easily managed to avoid each of the crane’s elaborate attacks, the bird soon became exhausted from its efforts. With its opponent weak and vulnerable the snake, having cleverly conserved its energy, was able to strike and kill the bird with ease.
Chang San Fen believed this to be an important lesson of battle and developed the Martial Art form of Tai Chi Chuan in response. Today many of the moves and stances reflect its history as a martial art. (for more please see https://en.wikipedia.org)
THE PRINCIPLES OF TAI CHI
Tai Chi Chuan translates to ‘Supreme, Ultimate Fist’ the Supreme and Ultimate being Yin and Yang. Yin and Yang is the symbol for Tai Chi, showing the importance of a well-
It relies on the union of both our physical and mental attributes. It is the slow, mindful way in which Tai Chi is performed that brings about this bond and a child of 6 can reap the same rewards as an adult of 60 by taking part in the same exercise.
The basic essence of Tai Chi movements have the Taoist principle of being ‘totally in the moment’; not thinking about the last move or the next move, but concentrating purely on where you are right now.
Despite its gentle nature, Tai Chi is an excellent form of intensive exercise and offers many physical benefits including improvements to balance and suppleness, strength and flexibility. It also provides participants with a great range of emotional and psychological benefits by helping with focus and concentration, calmness and mental fortitude.
Qigong (pronounced Chee Gong) is a series of movements designed to cultivate energy in order to improve health and wellbeing.
The 5 Element Qigong exercises in our ‘Chi for Children’ programme relate directly to the five natural Elements, which according to Chinese philosophy are linked to each organ and a colour. EG:
Fire = Heart = Red
Metal = Lungs = White
Water = Kidneys = Black/Dark Blue
Wood = Liver = Green
Earth = Spleen = Yellow
In the Qigong exercises each movement has benefit for internal organ and therefore the part of the body it is related to and when practiced together on a regular basis they can reap great rewards.
Although calm and simple, the movements are actually very powerful and move blood and energy (chi) throughout the body.
Regular training in these exercises may help prevent disease and promote longevity.