III. Supreme Ultimate Fist (Tai ji quan)
|The typical circular and coherent movements in Tai Chi are held to be derived from the yin yang diagram or Tai Chi symbol.
The Chinese characters for "Tai Chi" literally mean "supreme ultimate", which is a Taoist concept referring to the co-substantial union of yin yang, a state of mutual existence and dynamic equilibrium of all things.
The Supreme Ultimate Fist (Tai ji quan) also known as Tai Chi Chuan, Tai Chi, or Tai Ji, was originally a Chinese martial art. It evolved from physical and breathing exercises in ancient times, and had developed a unique style by the end of the Ming dynasty (AD 1368-1644). The practice is characterized by graceful, slow and rhythmical movements. They are designed to impart powerful physical skills and to stimulate the flow of energy within the body with the ultimate goal of improved mind-body connection. It can be performed in the "empty-hand" forms, weapon forms, pushing-hand forms, fighting forms and free-form sparring.
Many Tai Chi styles and variations of styles have been passed down through the generations. The major schools are named after the families that founded them, such as Yang, Wu, Sun, Chen and Wudang. Each has its own forms in postures and moves, and may involve complicated sequences. With reference to the different forms, the State Committee of Sports in China combined the essence of the various schools and devised the 24-sequence (which takes about 4 to 6 minutes to complete) and the 48-sequence forms in order to promote its practice for health promotion. These two forms can be consider introductory courses for beginners.
Studies have showed that long-term Tai Chi practice promotes balance control, joint flexibility, and general physical fitness as well as reducing the risk of falls in the elderly. Other benefits include improving cardiovascular and respiratory function, and reducing pain, stress and anxiety in healthy individuals. The gentle, low impact movements actually burn more calories than some vigorous exercises.
Pictures of 24-sequence Tai Chi: Part I, Part II & Part III.