Tai Chi, or taiji is an exercise form developed from Chinese martial arts. It has to be said that the slow and controlled movements are not as easy as they appear and require continuous movement with the knees bent. For those who have any form of mobility limitation, we recommend that they start with Chi Kung, rather than Tai Chi.
Although the accepted history of tai chi dates its beginnings to the time of Chang
San Feng, usually put around the 12th Century, this is by no means certain. From
cave paintings and references in ancient medical texts from China it appears that
exercise systems similar in style to what we know as tai chi were practised for health
much earlier than that -
Today, tai chi has spread far and wide beyond China to reach every corner of the
The earliest 'recognised' style of tai chi is the Chen, from which came Yang, Wu, Hao & Sun. The history is complex and made more so by disputes over the lines of descent and variations between family members.
In COREhealth we focus on the Yang style, which is large, round and flowing in character and has been 'standardised' by the authorities in China. That said, there are many practitioners of traditional variations such as the 'middle' and 'small' frame routines, which progressively move away from the physical and towards the 'energetics' of the exercise. It is an area of great debate and not appropriate to explore here.
Tai chi has both bare hand & weapons forms. Tai chi chuan (chuan meaning 'fist')
is the bare hand version, whereas, for example, tai chi jian forms use the double-
At all levels of skill and experience, there is always more to learn, which is what makes the exercise so fascinating. At every level, however, the practitioner should gain in strength, mobility, flexibility, vitality and general health.