What's tai-chi quan?
It is most likely that you've noticed, while watching movies about China, people in traditional clothes performing smooth and beautiful moves that look a lot like a dance. That's tai-chi quan.
Let's begin with this: tai-chi is not a dance or a workout. Tai-chi is at the same time the most simple and the most difficult of chinese martial arts. Anyone at any age and physical condition can start practicing tai-chi. Even if you are poorly fit when you start your tai-chi trainings you can still acquire quite a decent physique fairly soon. But to master tai-chi you're going to spend years.
If you are not the type that aims for a short-term goals, if you're up to your trainings for the whole life, if you're looking for a balanced way of life, tai-chi is the thing for you.
Tai-chi quan's techniques
The martial art that is most alike to tai-chi is aikido. The main principle that lies at the basis of tai-chi is avoiding the direct confrontation with your opponent. But, unlike aikido, tai-chi possesses a more rich arsenal.
Tai-chi is based on eight basic techniques:
- Peng / péng / 掤:- Wardoff
- Lu / lǚ / 捋:- Rollback
- Ji / jǐ / 擠:- Press or squeeze
- An / àn / 按:- Push (down)
- Cai / cǎi / 採:- Pluck
- Lie / liè / 挒:- Split
- Zhou / zhǒu / 肘:- Elbow
- Kao / kào / 靠:- Lean or bump
To master the applications of these techniques and to learn how to manifest them in a punch or a deflection, one needs a lot of practice.
By learning the techniques and the basic principle of tai-chi you'll get an advantage even over an opponent who is physically stronger than you. Strength is pointless if it does not meet a resistance. In tai-chi you use your opponent's strength for your own benefit and achieve victory by avoiding a direct resistance.
Health and tai-chi quan
In spite of the fact that tai-chi is a martial art, its world-wide popularity is achieved through its impact on health. Tai-chi technique corresponds to the natural coordination of a human body, that's why it provokes very little stress compared to any other sports. Practicing tai-chi you develop coordination, you learn how to move in the most efficient way with minimal effort, you learn to control your center of gravity and learn to feel the balance. By learning the balance during your trainings you'll get more even-tempered in your everyday life, you'll be able to act more thoughtfully under stress and to make the right decisions. In tai-chi the movement is continuos and practicing the moves requires your constant attention and concentration, this is called “to lead your move”. There are no fast combinations and bursts of adrenalin. Ta-chi cultivates the inner peace and harmony.
By sharpening your tai-chi technique you learn concentration, control over your emotions and you become more even-tempered. Methods of physical training are an essential part of the tai-chi training process because the quality of your moves depend on your physical abilities. Methods of physical training include exercises to improve your stamina, flexibility and coordination. Also qigong is an essential part of the training. You can further read about the advantages of qigong at the corresponding page of our website.
Together all of the above-mentioned aspects make rise to the tai-chi's popularity as a health-building system, but we are positive in our opinion that tai-chi is first of all a martial art, and that the good impact on health is an addition – good as it may be – to this fact. It is your right, of course, to put the priorities in any order you prefer.
What's the difference?
By summarizing, we would like to explain in a bit more difficult terms the main difference between kung-fu and tai-chi. These are two different paths that merge in the end. By learning kung-fu you begin with the form, and then by practicing punches and blocking moves in different variations you sooner or later will get the idea of how these elements work, which in turn will open you for any techniques you like. In tai-chi on the other hand, you start from learning the basic principles of any move, then you practice them, perfecting the application of these principles in action. In other words, you can drive a car and learn of what it's made during the ride, and then learning what it's capable of by using it under different conditions. But you can also start with learning the principles of how does a car work, and then you can use those principles in practice. Both ways are worthy, it is entirely your decision: which one will you choose.