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Tai Chi Chuan History

In Eastern philosophy and medicine there exists the concept of ‘chi’, a vital force that animates the body. One of the aims of Tai Chi is to foster the circulation of chi throughout the body, the belief being that by doing so the health and vitality of the person are enhanced.

Another aim of Tai Chi is to foster a calm and tranquil mind. The mind concentrates on the precise execution of a sequence of movements, thus dropping attention from the concerns of everyday life. Tai Chi has been referred to as a meditation in motion.


Tai Chi is a Chinese form of exercise/meditation/martial art. The practice is based on movements that can be traced to over 2,000 years ago. The Chinese characters for Tai Chi Chuan can be translated as “Supreme Ultimate Fist’. 

Though most people practice Tai Chi for health, the movements are derived from the martial arts; from what we in the west refer to as Kung Fu. Ancestrally, the movements are said to arise from observing and copying the movements of animals, birds and other natural phenomena.

The emphasis in Tai Chi is on channeling potentially destructive energy away from oneself in a manner that will dissipate the energy or send it in a direction where it is no longer a danger. Tai Chi movements are performed slowly, softly and gracefully with smooth and even transitions.

Tai Chi is associated with the Daoist concepts of yin and yang, the notion that there is a dynamic duality in all things. Examples are: male/female, dark/light, active/passive, forceful/yielding. The Tai Chi forms are designed to move from yin to yang and back again, gathering and moving energy around the body. The following symbol is used to represent this duality of movement.