tai chi basics

Tai Chi is an ancient exercise developed in China over 4,000 years ago and means “the grand way of life as taught through movement”. Originally a form of self-defense, Tai Chi is more widely practiced in the United States today for promoting vibrant health and longevity.

This gentle, yet powerful Chinese way of movement teaches one to live in harmony with nature. It is a meditation through movement; practiced with full relaxation of the body and focused mental concentration. Through daily practice, Tai Chi practice reconnects the mind to the body, the conscious to the subconscious, and the individual to their environment. Its flowing, long patterns of movements are best performed slowly and with repetition. With its circular movements, rhythmic breathing, and flowing postures, Tai Chi allows the full potential within each person to blossom.

“Be still as a mountain; move like a great river.” 
Tai Chi Chuan Classics

Tai Chi is an exercise that improves physical fitness in a gentle and almost imperceptible way. It increases heart capacity by increase the work load on the heart in a similar way to swimming. It is also excellent for stress reduction, mental relaxation and improved concentration.

Tai Chi is a form of exercise that invigorates the flow of Qi (vital energy) throughout the body. This increased Qi flow then improves blood circulation.


The Story of How Tai Chi Began

Legend tells us Tai Chi was created in the 14th century by a Taoist monk named Chang San Feng. He had observed a fight between a snake and a crane that lasted several days. The snake’s flexible, circular maneuvering and soft evasive countering of the crane’s ensnaring thrusts was evident. The snake’s looseness and concentration easily enabled it to escape the strikes of the crane’s beak. Eventually, the snake caught the crane by ensnaring it in its coils. This showed Master Chang that a less physically forceful opponent with clever strategy could subdue a hard, strong opponent. Based on his observation, Chang San Feng developed the soft, internal form of Tai Chi which exemplifies circular, relaxed and purposeful spontaneity in the midst of rapid movement when applied for martial arts purposes.

Tai Chi Today

Tai Chi has since become a system of physical exercise and a part of daily life for the Chinese people for centuries. Upon visiting China today, the parks are filled with Tai Chi players of all ages early in the morning throughout the country. This is gradually becoming commonplace in the parks in the United States, especially in our big cities. The flexibility, fluidity and grace exhibited through Tai Chi movements are astounding to watch.

Scientific Testament to the Healing Power of Tai Chi

read about the healing power of Tai Chi

The Tai Chi form taught at Red Bank Acupuncture

The form that Shoshanna teaches at our center is called Kuang Ping Tai Chi, brought to the states by Kuo Lien Ying to Portsmouth Square in San Francisco. This Yang style of Tai Chi originated in the region of the Honan Province in Northern China and has a total of 64 movements. Master Kuo learned and studied this form at a monastery outside of Beijing with Wong for many years. Wong had learned this form while working as a servant to Yang Ban Ho who was the first son of Yang Lu Chan. Legend has it that Wong lived until the ripe age of 123. Shoshanna learned this form beginning in 1974 in the Pan Handle of San Francisco Golden Gate Park - through study with Sifu Bing Gong, who is known as the best student of Kuo Lien Ying.

Recommended reading: Tai Chi Chuan in Theory and Practice by Kuo Lien-Ying

Please note: Any of these recommendations are not to be done in place of allopathic care. It is important to always discuss holistic options such as these with your physician.