Yang Tai Chi: The Graceful Martial Arts Form
Yang Luchan (1799–1872), the founder of Yang Style Tai Chi.
Yang Style Tai Chi
Tai chi chuan (generally known as Tai chi) is one of several forms of Chinese internal martial arts that de-emphasize brute force in favour of softness and roundness. Due to its gentle, flowing movements it is often described by practitioners as meditation in motion or moving meditation. The Chinese characters for Tai chi chuan can be translated into the 'Supreme Ultimate Force' which incorporate the Chinese concept of yin-yang (forces that oppose within the body) while qi (life force).
Tai chi was originally developed as a martial art and a form of self-defense by the ancient Chinese in the 13th Century. Combining deep breathing and relaxation with self-paced gentle stretching movements, it is now practiced worldwide to reduce stress and other health conditions like arthritis, osteoporosis and back pain especially in people over 65 years old. It is also acclaimed to improve sleep and general mobility.
Tai chi has different styles (such as Yang, Wu, Hao and Chen) with its own set of principles and methods mainly in terms of tempo, frame size and movement patterns. Yang Tai Chi is named after its founding father, Yang Lu Chan (1799-1872),who passed on this style through several of his descendants. Derived from the Chen tai chi style, it is the most widely practiced style of Tai Chi with millions of practitioners due to its fluid, slow movements that emphasize relaxation and internal energy.
There are numerous variations of this style in China and at least 20 main types in countries like England and America each originating from the approach of a specific master or from a particular Chinese geographic region. Despite this wide variety, the general principles and structural movements are similar. Yang tai chi comprises 37-postures repeated to the left direction or to the right side to create the 108-move set. In general, it involves graceful, structured, gentle and flowing movements while maintaining its martial arts form. There is also a specific yang style of martial arts which may not appear deadly in movement (‘dance-like’) but are not.
Tai chi in particular has a wide appeal for all ages and fitness levels due to its low impact and the ability to practice it indoors and outdoors without equipment, individually or in a collective group. Although tai chi is a generally safe form of exercise, it is wise not to overdo the practice and to seek medical advice, for instance, if you are pregnant, have back pain or a hernia.
Tai chi aims to foster a relaxed, calm mind and body which can be achieved through precise execution of the exercises. In order to gain the maximum health or traditional benefits of tai chi, it is important that you develop a sense of enemy, breathe naturally, practice preferably in the open and stay relaxed.