Tai Chi is difficult to define. Very broadly it is a mind-body (and spiritual) exercise rooted in multiple Asian traditions including martial arts, healing arts, traditional Chinese Medicine, philosophy and spiritual practices. The literal translation of Tai Chi is Supreme Ultimate Boxing. It is best viewed as diverse set of living and evolving practices that have been informed by the insights of a long lineage of devoted practitioners, moulded and shaped over time to changing cultural needs and social landscapes. It is difficult to be precise about its origins but there are claims that it can be traced back as early as the sixth century AD. It is clearer however that it developed over time through styles associated with Chinese families or villages.
Tai Chi has expanded into the West over the last 50 years as the interest in general wellbeing has grown. As interest has grown, research into the benefits of Tai Chi has followed. The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi provides an excellent account of the research that shows what Tai Chi masters have known for centuries, namely, regular practice leads to more vigour and flexibility, better balance and mobility, and a sense of wellbeing. Tai Chi also has a beneficial impact on the health of the heart, bones, nerves and muscles, immune system, and the mind and is particularly beneficial as we age
Extract from the Hall of Happiness, from Cheng Man Ching (New York 1973) whose form or style is the one we follow at the Centre.
Let us fortify ourselves against weakness and learn to be self-reliant, without ever a moment’s lapse. Then our resolution (to practice Tai Chi – my italics) will become the very air we breathe, the world we live in; then we will be as happy as a fish in crystal water. This is the joy that lasts, that we can carry with us to the end of our days. And tell me if you can; what greater happiness can life bestow?