There is an almost infinite number of Tai Chi movements that can be performed, all originally derived from four principal styles that developed over the ages since Chang Sen Feng first drew inspiration from the snake & the crane in the thirteenth century.
From the four major styles viz. Chen, Yang, Sun, Wu have come a vast array of different styles, including one very simplified form devised ‘for the masses’ and propagated by the government in China.
This is the form that is generally performed by large numbers of people morning & evening in town parks and squares throughout China. By and large, however, the Chinese traditionally practice any style of Tai Chi that they choose, modified as necessary to accommodate individual health requirements.
The latest evolution is a style that concentrates on health and philosophy: Tai Chi Qigong Shibashi. The set of eighteen exercises was developed in China about thirty three years ago from these forms by a traditional Chinese medical practitioner, Dr.Lin Hou Sheng. His aim was to teach a simple, repetitive (and therefore easy to learn) set of exercises to his patients to use as a means of enhancing their health and longevity.
Using knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine and incorporating the continual revelations of Western medical science, Grandmaster Gary Khor has modified the movements with aims of:
1.Activating the flow of chi along the meridians.
2.Strengthening the internal Organs
3.Increasing longevity by maintaining the health & vigour of the body & mind.
4.Exercising all joints & muscles.
5.Managing stress by promoting a balanced and relaxed attitude.
6.Preventing occupational diseases such as repetitive strain injury.
7.Promoting postural awareness.
8.Providing the essence and base for many other ‘Internal’ & ‘External’ Martial Arts.
This set of exercises is, therefore, a comprehensive health plan designed to cultivate health and energy in every part of the body. It concentrates in turn carefully graded steps, balancing exertion against relaxation, which is good for reducing stress.
People are used to seeing Tai Chi performed as a continuous flow of movements. Yet, these continuously changing movements prove difficult for beginners to follow. Also, because students are trying to keep up with the form, they often miss out on the essence of the Tai Chi art. One way to avoid this happening is to learn the basics of the art, thereby laying the foundation for the correct practice of Tai Chi.
Simply imitating the form in slow and flowing motion may give you a certain amount of relaxation and exercise for your joints and muscles. However, it does not give you optimum benefit of your Tai Chi which includes correct posture, abdominal breathing and a focused mind to increase your vitality.
These are the three fundamentals of Qigong (spelt as Chi Kung by the ancient Chinese) – the oriental art of energy development.