For thousands of years, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has included movement and mindfulness for maintaining optimal health and achieving high levels of vitality. These interventions, collectively called Qigong, combine dance-like or animal-inspired movements plus breathing and concentration exercises to produce therapeutic benefits. Taijiquan (also: Tai Chi, Taiji) is one type of Qigong system, which incorporates concepts from martial arts as well as Taoist philosophy. In recent years Tai Chi has seen a widespread growth of popularity, due largely to increased research and awareness surrounding its powerful outcomes for wellbeing.
Yang family Tai Chi is named after the founders, Yang Luchan, his son and his grandson, Yang Jianhou and Yang Chengfu. While employed by the Chinese emperor to teach martial arts to the palace guards in the forbidden imperial city, Yang Luchan became famous for his unique “soft” or “internal” style of fighting, which earned him the nickname “Cottonfist”. Yang Chengfu was the first to teach Tai Chi to the general public, demonstrating Tai Chi’s wide-ranging applications, not only in martial arts and health, but also in the domains of spirituality and living a good life.
Tai Chi employs a holistic approach to personal wellbeing. During a one-hour class, a participant is at once getting a workout, opening their joints, calming their mind and preventing disease. Strength, flexibility, balance, relaxation, mental focus, movement efficiency, martial arts, community, and meditation are all areas addressed in the Yang family Tai Chi program.
Unique to Yang family Tai Chi is the reduced focus on muscle tension, instead emphasizing bone density and connective tissue elasticity. Stronger bones yield greater stability and ease of motion. Highly elastic ligaments and tendons help reduce joint injury and integrate multiple-joint kinetic chain movements. Yang family Tai Chi also considers the reaction of the nervous system, calming the impulse fight or flight.
Few exercise systems boast a risk-free guarantee! The gentle, slow method used in Taiji and Qigong is appropriate for nearly anyone, including those with significant limitations. Even the martial drills can be easily modified to a comfortable level of force for each individual.
In addition to being risk-free, the gentleness of Taiji reduces the reliance on motivation and makes it easy to incorporate into other exercise programs. Even on recovery days, simply moving through a comfortable range of motion is the perfect way to prepare for the next bout.
Best of all, Taijiquan is a life-long practice. Continuing to provide physical development and practical insights throughout all life’s years. Taiji is a philosophy of change. Movement is change, and thus the practice is limitless. That is the literal meaning of the name “Taijiquan”. Quan translates to “way”, “form” or “fist”. The word Taiji means “grand ultimate” or “the infinite”. So therefore, Taijiquan is The Way of the Infinite.