Chen Taiji dates from China’s dynasties as a formidable martial art of the battlefield. A respected martial artist, Wang Ting Chen, formulated Chen Taiji Chuan (‘Great Ultimate Fist of the Chen Family’) by blending select effective techniques from different styles. No longer useful for battle, contemporary teachings emphasize its health aspects. As Taiji has evolved, its exercise provides a perfect complement to the fast pace of modern living.
In its original form, Taiji has fast and slow movements, with hard and soft energies. Its spiraling action, known as ‘reeling silk’, causes muscles to stretch and strengthen as they expand and contract. While one can spend a lifetime learning and understanding Taiji, initially patience is required to accomplish what may seem unfamiliar or difficult. But just as babies crawl before walking, students of Taiji must grasp the important foundation stage of the art.
Three to six months of weekly lessons facilitate learning of a basic 36-movement Taiji short form. Once memorized, the sequence can be improved with a coach or on one’s own and advancement to a 72- movement (or more) form is possible. Click to see Quicktime movie of Casually Rolling Up the Clothes, Carry Tiger Return to Mountain and Single Whip movements.
Practice is often incorporated into a daily health routine. Anywhere with ample space is suitable, but comfortable clothes and a quiet park is an ideal combination and usually before or after a light meal is best. Taiji awakens the mindful body that will rejuvenate when tired, and relax and calm when tense or stressed.
In today’s world of high speed technology, time for cultivating our health is often not a priority until illness arises. Because we no longer use our bodies to secure daily needs, as in hunting and gathering days, it is easy to take good health for granted. As developed as science and technology are, they will never surpass the amazing abilities of life itself or substitute for taking care of ourselves. While the human body is remarkable and functions well with minimal maintenance, it best sustains itself indefinitely with habitual replenishment. Are you planning to have a lifetime of good health? It takes planning to achieve an objective of good health and Taiji can be an excellent part of that plan.