Tai Chi, or its full name T’ai Chi Ch’uan is a Chinese internal martial art that is believed to have been invented in the 12th century by the Daoist monk Zhang Sanfeng. However, it is far more than a martial art, embodying elements of Daoist and Confucian philosophy in order to cultivate agility, health and mental and physical balance.
Tai Chi developed into multiple branches, or families of Tai Chi. The style of T’ai Chi Ch’uan that we teach was devised by 20th century Tai Chi master Cheng Man-ch’ing, who condensed the Yang ‘long-form’ that he learnt from early 20th century master Yang Chengfu.
The ‘form’, or sequence of movements, takes around 10-12 minutes to complete. In the understanding of traditional Chinese medicine, these movements aid the circulation of vital energy, or Qi, around your body. As well as supporting your health it can calm and centre your mind. From a western medical perspective the exercise is considered an aid to improving balance, bone density and lowering blood pressure through gentle, low impact movement.
Students can progress from learning the form, to partner work called push hands, and further to learning the sword form and fencing.
Beyond its value for mental and physical health, it is an all-encompassing art form through which to cultivate ones spirit and learn to fully engage with life in a calm, responsive and joyful way.
There is no upper or lower age limit for learning Tai Chi.