The oldest of tall the martial arts, tai chi is "the mother of the martial arts. Tai chi was designed to make manifest the I-Ching, or Book of Changes. No one knows who wrote the I Ching, but the ancient book declares that everything in nature houses a yin and yang These two energies are found everywhere in the universe. Originally, the book was used as a meditation tool and to predict the future, but the philosophy was later developed into movement, or tai chi. Tai chaicharges that everything in nature shows the balance of two energies. Tai chi uses the names of animals to describe the movements and their relationship to the universe. A movement like " the crane" reflects the yin, or retreating, or less substantial energy, while "carry the tiger to the mountain" reflects the yang, or strong forceful forward energy. Both nature and the self , like a life force, consist of both energies. Tai chi postures that bringing these two energies in harmony benefits one's health both mentally and physically.
Tai chi originated centuries ago in China to improve endurance, flexibility and balance. The tai chi practitioner understands that human beings are constantly changing and always working through inner conflict. Change is a given in life, tai chi helps you find a balance in that change. It does so by reducing stress, preserving youth and enhancing good health.
Tai chi is an internal martial art, internal because it is based on working inside one's system, the mind and body. With the mind, tai chi controls our thoughts-inside the body it works to control our energy or chi. Tai chi is a top down method. It connects the mind at the top to the body at the bottom. It works simultaneously on the mind, body, thoughts and chi. To practice tai chi, you must become aware of your body or how you move. For someone with a back problem, tai chi helps you, via the postures, to move your body correctly. You cannot practice tai chi without first becoming conscientious of your physical presence. Because most of us use our body incorrectly, tai chi works with warm up exercises to acquaint one with how the body should function in movement. Hip rotation, waist and arm rotations warm the body. Tai chi rotates all the joints in the body. Chinese medicine believes that if the energy is static or blocked in the joints, aging ensues. When the joints open, one feels better, and the aging process is slowed. The tai chi postures rotate all the joints in the body. Tai chi is gentle martial art, and you must practice tai chi to learn it. It is a slow, but a very effective process. Every tai chi move contains elements of yin and yang. This graceful discipline is as much reflective as vigorous. The effect is one of relaxation and pleasure. I think of tai chi as the universe in harmony. As we constantly change and shift, we must learn to balance life-tai chi is the guardian of that balance. It is also a good exercise for the back in that it requires a therapeutic routine, in which the mind and body must move together to maintain that fragile balancing we all strive for.