A lot of people don’t know what tai chi is . . . . really is. We’ve all heard a bunch to stuff from different sources, but I think that the best way to know what tai chi is is to do it. I think more people would be more likely to do it if they understood a little more about. I’ve taken it upon myself to to write and talk about what tai chi is in as many of its manifestations as I am aware of—to the limits of my own understanding.
So here is another attempt to give meaning to the term: tai chi, tai ji, taijiquan and all its other spellings. It won’t be my final attempt either. Every time anyone begins a session of tai chi and qigong they enter into a whole new frame of redefining it through its very practice.
I like the term “taiji” because it is the diminutive of “taijiquan” which means supreme ultimate fist or boxing. The “supreme ultimate” part is key for me, because it refers to the supreme ultimate expression of movement itself which applies rather well to our times and to our particular human nature in our particular era. It also applies to all types of martial arts movement, as well.
“Tai Ji” is an internal movement art. I study its internal, which is for most beginners the more esoteric. This is the deep art of movement, with the principles of all movement at its core. Great dancers are doing tai ji. So are great swimmers, singers, runners, and many other types of movement.
But tai ji is available to the average person, as well. Maybe you’re simply working in your garden or taking a stroll. Tai ji applies then. To learn the internal principles of tai ji and apply them in whatever kind of movement you do is not so difficult to do. I should say relearn, or perhaps remember, since all it is is natural movement that was normal to us as infants around the time we learned to walk.
I know many people are considering tai chi as an exercise that might help them age more gracefully. It’s on the list, anyway. I can envision so many people at least living with less chronic pain, which is so prevalent among the Baby Boomers. Pain is something we “learn to live with,” but more of us are doing tai chi and qigong to confront pain, because we are hearing from others who say they are getting out of pain.
At its core, tai chi is an individual expression as much, or more, than it is a group practice. It’s both and it’s truest expression begins and ends with the individual.