Tai Chi Chuan is a highly sophisticated internal art in which the mind plays a vital role in controlling the body. The key to success in Tai Chi Chuan is relaxation & concentration which is achieved through a series of healthful exercises and the Tai Chi Chuan forms. The Tai Chi Chuan forms contain slow, continuous, and graceful movements designed to facilitate the flow of Chi. Chi is the concept which is the foundation of Tai Chi Chuan. Chi is defined as internal energy developed through deep breathing and directed by the mind through focused concentration. Postures are taken directly from the forms sped up and applied as self-defense techniques. The smooth ballet-like elegance of Tai Chi Chuan does not readily reveal the fact that beneath the slow flowing external forms lies one of the fastest, most effective fighting systems in the world.
Longevity has always been an important goal of Tai Chi Chuan and that is why the art contains exercises designed for optimum health, The relaxed, gentle movements of the Tai Chi Chuan forms help to quiet and calm the nervous system while keeping the body erect and well postured. In the circulatory system, the blood is refreshed and revitalized due to the large intake of oxygen through deep breathing. This deep breathing causes the diaphragm to move which, in turn exerts gentle pressure upon the stomach and other organs in that region. This abdominal pressure aids in the digestive process by stimulating activity in the intestines and also helps the liver to eliminate impure blood. The veins respond to this internal massage by transferring more blood up to the heart, thereby assisting it in pumping blood and helping the blood to circulate. The properly oxygenated blood then circulates efficiently throughout the body while cleansing all the internal organs, loosening the joints, refreshing the skin and clearing the system of end products resulting from improper metabolism. Tai Chi Chuan, when practiced regularly, can be beneficial part of a long and healthy life.
Great strength is not needed for great power in Tai Chi Chuan self-defense. An attacker may have massive power but in Tai Chi Chuan, one will not receive the force head-on. Instead, students learn to neutralize or redirect the force against the opponent. Redirection involves the parrying of a blow while using a circular motion. The force of the blow is then circled back toward the attacker, sending him/her off-balance in a sideways or backward direction. Neutralizing is usually accomplished by withdrawing from the attack which causes the opponent to be drawn off-balance in a forward direction. At this point, the Tai Chi Chuan student will add to the opponent's momentum by pulling him further off-balance. Through this yielding defense, the opponent is maneuvered into a position of vulnerability to attack.
All attacks in the art of Tai Chi Chuan utilize the combined strength of the entire body rather than just the force of the attacking limb. The power of Tai Chi Chuan is rooted in the feet, develops into the leg, is directed by the waist and functions through the fingers. A blow propelled by the entire body of even a small person can easily exceed what a large persons' body can withstand. The principle combined body strength is applied to a variety of tactics: throwing punches and kicks simultaneously, launching the entire body into an opponent, pulling into an outwardly moving fist, etc.
Weapon forms are taught to the advanced Tai Chi Chuan practitioner beginning with the Tai Chi Chuan sword.
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