The Ancient Art Of Tai Chi

What exactly is Tai Chi….

Tai Chi is the ancient chinese tradition that  consists of a sequence of movements. It is originally known as Tai Chi Chuan, properly translated means “Supreme Ultimate Force”. Tai Chi as it is practised in the west today is best considered as a moving form of yoga and meditation combined.

A number of forms have evolved from it’s roots which date back to the scholar and mystic Lao Tsu, an older contemporary of Confucius. He wrote and taught in the 6th century B.C. and authored the seminal work of Taoism, the Tao Te Ching.

As a philosophy, Taoism has many elements but fundamentally it espouses a calm, reflective and mystic view of the world steeped in the beauty and tranquility of nature.

tai chi

tai chi

Tai Chi has always been considered a martial art but….

Martial arts have a long history and over the last few centuries they have transitioned into mainstream in the western world. Although one of the most popular martial arts is Kung Fu, Tai Chi has become very popular in the western world first and foremost as a meditative exercise for the body.

In Chinese philosophy and medicine there exists the concept of ‘chi’ ,a vital force that animates the body. One of the primary aims of Tai Chi is to encourage the circulation of this ‘chi’ within the body, as it was believed this would enhance the health and vitality of the body.

This ‘chi’ circulates in similar patterns to the nervous and vascular system and thus the notion is closely related with that of the practice of a variety of oriental healing arts. Tai Chi is an excellent way to reduce stress on the body. For a great article about Tai Chi and stress click the link.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi

My personal experience with Tai Chi….

I remember when I was in my early twenties and meeting someone who practiced Tai Chi. When I listened to them describe the benefits they experienced I was intrigued and wanted to try it. Many years passed and finally when I was living in Montreal, Canada I decided it was time to find a school for me to train at Tai Chi.

Some people would prefer to buy a Tai Chi video but I like direct experience. I visited several places that taught this but I ended up at a school known as the Taoist Tai Chi Society and observed a class being taught. The attraction was instant. I was not interested in the martial art aspect of Tai Chi; I was interested in the calming meditative aspect.

I began by joining a beginners class 2 times per week . I would practice a few more times per week until the end of this first course. I was hooked. I remember one night walking into a class after experiencing a very bad day and I felt like punching my fist through a wall. By the end of the class I could not even remember what I was angry at.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi

Taking my personal experience to the next level…

After those 4 months of training I wanted more of this feeling I was creating. I joined an intermediate class and started to train 5 days a week, 2 hours a day. It was totally exhilarating . I had never felt anything like this.

A quick note…. there are no grades or belts in Tai Chi. This is why people of all ages and experiences can do a class together. The Taoist Tai Chi set consisted of 108 movements and you would turn in all directions. The benefit of doing it in groups was amazing. The largest group that we performed the set in was over 200. The energy was absolutely electric. I continued my training and actually increased to 7 days a week 2 hours per day for the next 18 months. Tai Chi is powerful, it is smooth and surprisingly demanding physically.

After two years I was approached by the school to become an instructor (of which we were all volunteers). I was honored and accepted and began to teach along with my daily practice. I quickly learned that I was not a teacher but another level of student as your class is a mirror of what you are teaching. Tai Chi transformed my life. I was calmer than ever before, more focused and I felt amazing.

I learned a lot about holistic health as this is the normal approach for the Chinese culture. I also learned about how we in North America are so sensitive and touchy about ourselves. This was made apparent to me in one workshop when Master Moy, who knew little english,came up to me and I asked  what I was doing wrong and he quickly said you are thinking too much and walked away.

It took me a little while to understand what he said.  My initial reaction was personal and his answer was just direct. Little did I first realize how much I would learn about life through Tai Chi. It’s much more than an exercise or a meditation.

Tai Chi

Tai Chi

The learning I experienced from this ancient culture was life changing….

Because Tai Chi movements have their origins in the martial arts, practicing them does have some martial applications. In a two person exercise known as ‘push hands’ Tai Chi principles are developed in terms of being sensitive to and responsive of another person’s ‘chi’ or vital energy.

Long time practitioners of Tai Chi who are so inclined can become very adept at martial arts. Tai Chi is an internal martial art which is having all the force and power come from within.The emphasis in Tai Chi is on being able to channel powerful energy away from one that will dissipate the energy or return the force back on to the direction it is directed from.

I remember having the master align me in one position in push hands and having another person who outweighed me by a lot, push on me and they could not even budge me. I felt nothing as when you align yourself you can channel all their force into the ground.

I saw the master perform healing’s in workshops and literally would demonstrate how he was able to toss people aside with his finger.

Transferring Tai Chi lessons to life…

Most people want to have more control in their lives. People would join Tai Chi to become healthier through exercise. You learned respect for others as there was people between the ages of 20-70 in the same class. You learned humility. Its not about being better or stronger than someone else.

I did take other classes in Qi Gong or Chi Kung which is an actual meditation. I also started to train in Lok Hup. The interesting part was when other people had noticed a great change in me. You can easily see all the valuable life lessons that you can apply to your life both personally and professionally.

These are experiences that I have seen create great shifts in many people’s lives. It is powerful and you all know that power has to be respected. What is truly amazing is when you look at something from one perspective and then you engage yourself and it becomes something completely different. I was not looking at Tai Chi as a culture experience or the holistic lessons. Another example than when you apply yourself 100% you get much more in return.


Tai Chi

Tai Chi


David Thompson

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