What is Tai Chi.....

Background
For some people Tai Chi is a martial art--a slowed down, graceful way of practicing the art of self-protection. According to most legends, this was Tai Chi's beginnings--back in centuries past when Chinese villagers were not allowed to take up arms or show their ability to fight off the warlords or local gangs that threatened them. But for many of the early practitioners as well as most of us today, Tai Chi is an "internal" martial art. We want to fend off the stresses of modern life, maintain our agility, balance, and overall health, practice mindfulness, and enjoy the mood-lifting experience of practicing these engaging movement forms with others.

The three main styles of Tai Chi are Chen, Yang, and Sun. (Other styles exist but are less well known and less widely practiced.)

Chen combines slow and fast movements and is the most martial appearing of the three. It is also the oldest. Chen 36 and Chen 56 are two versions of this exciting form. Some practitioners like to do the movements of this form very low, but many of us practice a version we call "Elder Chen," which reduces the pressure on the knees and back.

Yang, the most popular form in the world, comes in a variety of formats. The one first introduced into the U.S. was the Long Form (sometimes called Yang 108), but other versions exist, such as Yang 40 Forms and Yang 24 Forms. This last was created at Beijing Sports University in the early 1950s and is very widely taught. Yang's movements are somewhat large, with a lovely flowing quality.

Sun, the youngest of our Tai Chi families, was created by Sun Lu Tang, a martial artist skilled in various forms of qigong and tai chi. He added "agile stepping" and gigong deep breathing to his form. Sun 73 and Sun 93 are the only forms of this style, but Sun 73 is much more widely practiced. It's upright stance and compact format make it very suitable for people of varying abilities.
The Tai Chi Salute-----

The soft fist of the right hand represents the martial arts background of Tai Chi and all the masters and teachers who have passed it along to us.

The fingers of the left hand, held together and placed on top of the fist, represent the people who have gathered to practice tai chi in friendship and mutual support--your class or group.

The thumb of the left hand comes down to rest on the right fist, representing humility. There's always more to learn, and that's part of what makes Tai Chi fun!!