What is Tai chi? Tai chi is a martial art that is practiced for both self-defense and the sake of better health. It was originally developed in China during the Song dynasty and has been passed down from generation to generation. If you are interested in learning Tai chi, this article can help you get started. Tai chi is often translated as “the supreme ultimate”. It is an internal martial art that allows the body to cultivate itself into a stronger, healthier state.
This section provides information about Tai Chi in relation to its origins, how it’s practiced, and what kind of benefits can be gained through it. Tai chi is a Chinese martial art that traces its roots to the Song dynasty in China. It is primarily practiced for improving mental and physical health. Athletes, actors, musicians, and business executives rely on Tai chi to improve their performance. It also helps people with osteoporosis and arthritis. The movements of the body during Tai chi help strengthen the muscles as well as regulate blood pressure and circulation of oxygen in the body.
Tai chi is a form of moving meditation that focuses on mindfulness and deep breathing. Practitioners often meditate at night or before they go to bed so they can sleep better afterward. Tai chi is practiced in many different forms including Yang and Wu styles. The movements of the Tai chi are very slow and gentle. They’re not only meant to be graceful but also good for the body.
There are two major types of Tai chi – Yang and Wu
Yang style: The Yang style was developed by Yang Lu-ch’an (1799-1872) in the late 1800s. It emphasizes physical postures, deep breathing, and slow movements. This style is more popular in the west than it is in China.
Wu style: The Wu style was developed by Wu Yuxiang (1812-1880) during the Qing dynasty. It emphasizes kicks, hard palm strikes, fast motion, and sharp techniques with weapons. This move is more popular in China than it is in the West.
Tai Chi Beginner Routine:
There are several different tai chi routines. The one taught in most Western schools is called the beginner’s routine. There are 24 basic movements in this routine. When combined, they trace the shape of a circle. The movements emphasize overall body relaxation and awareness of breathing. The beginner routine consists of 24 movements (form) and takes about 15 minutes to complete. Below is a description of each movement.
Step 1 (Yong Quan): Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, and toes slightly turned out. Begin with arms at your sides. Look straight ahead.
Step 2 (Tou Bu): Inhale deeply, bend your knees slightly, and shift your weight to the balls of your feet (about ¼ or ½ of your body weight). Brace Your abs and hollow out the chest.
Step 3: Exhale: Shift your weight backwards so that 90% of your weight is on the heels. Press down on toes and raise up on the ball of the foot so that you are standing fully erect with body weight distributed evenly between heel and ball of the foot.
Step 4 (Hai Bu): Keeping the heels of your feet firmly on the ground, bend knees further, and lower your hips by pushing down with the balls of your feet. Try to press the top of the thigh bones along with pubic bone downward. The more you lower your knees, the deeper you will have to push down with your toes to keep from falling forward. Shift body weight to front leg (stance leg).
Step 5 (Hui Bu): Exhale: shift back up to the original position by pushing on the ball of the foot. You can tap down on toes as you shift up if it is difficult for your balance at this point.
Step 6 (Jin Bu): Inhale: Bring your weight forward to near center between heels and balls of the foot. Keep knees soft. Do not push with the balls of your feet.
Step 7 (An Chi): As you exhale, press down on toes and sink hips toward the ground while keeping knees soft (about 6 inches from the ground). Shift weight to front leg (stance leg) and bring feet together. Beginners should keep level with hips at all times so knees never go past toes.
Step 8 (Tui Bu): Inhale: shift weight back to heels while keeping knees bent, and separate your feet by taking one step backward with your left foot.
Step 9 (Tou Bu): Exhale: shift weight to balls of feet (about ¼ or ½ of your body weight) and bring feet together.
Step 10 (Yong Quan): Inhale: stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes slightly turned out, and arms hanging loosely at sides. Look straight ahead. This is the beginning posture of the routine.
Step 11: Exhale: Shift hips forward without leaning torso forward (so you don’t fall). You can bend forward slightly if you feel uncomfortable keeping your back straight at this point.
Step 12 (Tou Bu): Inhale deeply, bend your knees slightly, and shift weight onto the balls of your feet (about ¼ or ½ of your body weight). Brace your abs and hollow out the chest.
Step 13 (Yong Quan): Exhale: Shift forward more into a lunge as you bend your knees deeply. Keep your back straight.
Step 14: Inhale: Shift back to Yong Quan by pressing down with balls of the feet and pushing on toes, then shifting weight onto heels. Steps 1 – 13 are repeated once to make up the first half cycle of 24 movements.
Step 15: Inhale: Take a small step forward with your left foot. Keep the right foot in place.
Step 16 (Tou Bu): Exhale: shift weight to ball of left foot, shift body weight onto ball of right foot (about ¼ or ½ of your body weight). Brace your abs, and hollow out your chest.
Step 17 (Hai Bu): Inhale: bend knees, lower hips, and push down on right foot so that it is flat on the ground. Shift body weight to the front leg (stance leg). You can tap down on toes as you shift up if it is difficult for balance at this point.
Step 18: Exhale: push down on the ball of right foot, shift weight to left foot, and bring it forward.
Step 19 (Jin Bu): Inhale: Stand erect with body weight evenly distributed between heel and ball of the foot. Keep knees soft. Do not push with toes.
Step 20 (Tou Bu): Inhale: shift weight back to heels and keep knees soft without pushing with toes. You can also take a small step backward by shifting your weight to the balls of your feet and taking a small step forward with the other leg if you don’t feel uncomfortable moving from the front to the back leg in one movement.
Step 21 (Jin Bu): Exhale: shift weight to heels, stand erect with body weight evenly distributed between heel and ball of the foot. Keep knees soft. Do not push with toes.
Step 22 (Tou Bu): Inhale: shift bodyweight back to heels, bend knees and lower hips by pushing down on balls of feet, then shift body weight onto heels.
Step 23 (Hui Bu): Exhale: Shift back up to the original position by pushing on the ball of the foot and shifting body weight onto heels. You can tap down on toes as you shift up if it is difficult for your balance at this point.
Step 24 (Yong Quan): Inhale: shift weight forward to near center between heels and balls of the foot. Keep knees soft. Do not push with the balls of your feet.
Step 25: Exhale: press down on toes and sink hips toward the ground while keeping knees soft (about 6 inches from the ground). Shift weight to front leg (stance leg) and bring feet together. Beginners should keep level with hips at all times so knees never go past toes.
Finally, one full cycle of 24 movements is completed, and it ends with the final step.
In conclusion, this posture series is a slow, 24-movement routine meant to help relax and open your hips and lower back. It does not target any specific muscles, but it provides a stable foundation for the rest of your flexibility routine.
The goal of this series is not to get you as flexible as possible in a short period of time, but to stretch the connective tissues and muscles that support your body where you need them most. The movements are designed to promote hip flexibility and the ability to keep the hips open while standing. It is difficult to do so, but not impossible. Experienced practitioners have said that this series gives them more mobility than they were expecting from such a simple set of movements.
You can do each step in order or skip around as needed based on your needs and level of flexibility. However, if you feel like you are losing mobility with one step, try another one before taking a break until your flexibility returns.