Tai Ji forms are fluid, choreographed movement sequences that explore the philosophical principles of Tai Ji. This is a sophisticated and mindful movement practice that embodies principles of martial arts, the physiology of traditional medicine, and the deep insight of Chinese philosophy.
Physically, this practice trains efficient body mechanics, proprioceptive awareness (the ability to sense your position in space), coordination, and general fitness. Internally it develops interoception (sensory awareness inside of your body), emotional clarity, breath control, and overall heightened awareness of one’s self and their environment.
Included in this curriculum are Tai Ji weapon sequences, including straight sword, sabre, and spear. Each weapon has unique characteristics that develop different skill sets and benefits.
Standing meditation (Zhan Zhuang) is another component of this practice. Standing meditation is the practice of standing in fixed postures for long periods of time, typically up to one hour. In terms of physical benefits, this practice builds a strong and stable body structure. Internally it cultivates numerous benefits, including patience, discipline, and interoceptive awareness.
Tai Ji is sometimes referred to as a ‘moving meditation’. With the right emphasis, there is strong potential for this practice to maintain and/or rehabilitate your health. To take full advantage of these benefits, specific aspects of practice need to be emphasized. This approach dives deeper into the physiology of traditional Chinese medicine, the Daoist tradition of Internal Alchemic Cultivation (Nei Dan), as well as incorporates other health oriented arts like Qi Gong or Dao Yin.
Qi Gong, Yang Sheng, or Dao Yin, are practices aimed at improving physical, mental, and emotional adaptability to stress. These are easy to practice and suitable for anybody at any level and in any state of health. They are especially useful for chronic health and rehabilitation issues that have left someone weak and unable to partake in normal physical activity.
Historically, Tai Ji has also been practiced as a martial art. This training process emphasizes two person drills, applications, combat strategy, and power generation. As well, other unique and challenging kinds of meditation and internal practices aid in the development of relevant and subtle skills.
Included in this Tai Ji martial art practice, are fundamental movements based on the martial arts of Form Mind Boxing (Xing Yi Quan), Heart-Mind Six Harmonies Fist (Xin Yi Liu He Quan) and Great Achievement Boxing (Da Cheng Quan). These martial arts have similar fundamentals and origins. The practice in generally consists of simple, repetitive, strikes, and primarily focuses on unique body positioning, angles of attack, and explosive striking force. These forms can be physically demanding, and serve as a good foundation for martial art practice or general movement fitness.
Tai Ji philosophy is very ancient, and heavily influenced the development of most Eastern cultures. The word Tai Ji symbolizes the movements of life, nature, time, and space. It interprets the continuous and rhythmic ebb and flow of change.
It can’t be overstated how a good overall academic understanding of classical Chinese philosophy can improve all aspects of ones Tai Ji practice. It provides the tools needed grow beyond simply a physical practice. Integrating the philosophical principles of Tai Ji into practice is complicated, and requires a significant amount of time, effort, and contemplation.
Interested in Training?
Training of this syllabus is only offered privately, in seminars, or in workshops, with access to some online support materials. In most cases, one or two sessions per month are enough to maintain a developing practice, assuming of course you’re self-motivated enough to practice regularly on your own. There’s a significant amount of material to be covered involved in these practices, both physical and academic. As a whole, training includes various foundation practices, solo sequences, partner drills, traditional weapons, internal meditative practices, as well as relevant history, philosophy, medical theory, and martial art principles. For those with limited time or specific interest/goals, training can emphasize desired areas of focus.
Practicing TaiJi two-person drills in Long Hu Shan, China
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