T’ai Chi Ch'uan is classed as an internal martial art yet movements are soft and yielding and rely as much on the development of internal energy or chi as they do on physical technique.
Because the movements are practiced in a slow, focused manner this calms the chatter of the mind and focuses attention so that the movements become like a moving meditation. The body remains relaxed yet energised and the joints open, that is to say for instance that the knees stay unlocked and the elbows and wrists bent, through out the entire movement range.
This mode of moving encourages better circulation, lowers blood pressure and increases the lymph flow around the body and has proven health benefits.
T’ai Chi consists of a series of postures, all of which have martial applications, if you wish to learn them, which are strung together like a rope of pearls to form one continuous flowing pattern of movements. The movements alternate between collecting or gathering energy and expanding and emitting energy, the constant interplay between yin and yang.
The study of T’ai Chi leads to greater self awareness, better concentration, greater balance and grace and better co-ordination. Increased mind / body connection is also encouraged and a growing recognition of the life force or chi.
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Chi Kung Exercises
Chi Kung or Qigong, as it is also spelled, consists of a variety of exercises designed to increase the flow of chi or life force in the body. The exercises are usually performed slowly with an enphasis on the breath. Unlike yoga, which tends to have more static postures, chi kung exercises are frequently performed with precise movements that open and relax the body, increase body awareness and activate acupuncture meridians to improve health.
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Video of Sun and Yang Style T'ai Chi Ch'uan and some morning T'ai Chi broadsword practice