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Thursday, August 27, 2009

What is Tai Chi?

“A gentle form of exercise played to soft music” or “a martial art used to develop tremendous power and speed derived from internal energy”? These two answers may be given by one and the same person, twenty years apart. Tai Chi can be many things to many people, many things to the same person over time. In fact, Tai Chi is what you make of it. If you resonate with Tai Chi, you will find it becomes your companion for life.

Photo: Qingcheng Mountain: Gate leading from Temple to the Mountain

When I first saw Tai Chi, I was captivated by the graceful yet powerful movements. I was impressed by its external form but, at the same time, sensed the internal structure and power. Was this a form of ballet? Clearly no. Is it a martial art? If yes, where are the heavy blows and kicks? Tai Chi is so deceptive! Like the poetic names of the moves, which contain hidden deadly techniques!
For the first couple of years I read many books on Tai Chi and Qigong, which helped me just scratch the surface. With my growing interest, I soon became immersed in Chinese culture, captivated by traditional Chinese music, reading Chinese novels, probing the ancient Asian soul. I needed to overcome my Western frame of mind, then open to a different view in relation to nature and the world at large, if I was to improve my Tai Chi beyond the stage of performing arm and leg moves. And thus the Gate opened.

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