T’ai Chi Ch’uan is an ancient form of the pugilistic art often referred to in the West as “shadowboxing.” Originally designed for self defense, T’ai Chi has been refined into a slow, graceful, rhythmic exercise that promotes good health in all – young and old alike.
In practicing T’ai Chi Ch’uan, the mind as well as the body must be relaxed, the limbs and the waist kept flexible. This relaxing movement improves the nervous system and blood circulation, relieving stress. After an initial period of a year or so, a practitioner will feel, while executing the relaxed and continuous movements, a stream of heat circulating out toward every fingertip.
Learning T’ai Chi Ch’uan begins with slow movements called the slow set. For beginners, the gentle twisting of the waist stimulates the internal organs, thus improving their functioning. Advanced students will find that this beneficial effect is accentuated by the slow, deep, and quiet abdominal breathing accompanying the exercise. For the purpose of self defense, the movements become lightning fast. Those who learn T’ai Chi gradually and practice diligently, will eventually, with the instruction of a master, develop a method of self defense.
After performing T’ai Chi, one feels rather than fatigue and exhaustion, a sense of well being. By increasing the free flow of energy or chi to one’s whole being, the balance and harmony between spirit and body are restored. Habitual practice will make the body agile and graceful, the mind alert and serene, and life long and healthy. In practicing this art, the physically weak and chronically ill will discover a therapeutic effect unmatched by other forms of body discipline.