Tai Chi

Photo of people practicing tai chi.
Tai chi chuan, commonly referred to as "tai chi," is part of an ancient philosophy expressed through graceful movements.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

When most people describe Tai Chi, they are actually thinking of tai chi chuan. Tai chi chuan, usually referred to as tai chi, is the almost meditative exercise derived from the philosophic principles of Tai Chi. As a result, tai chi chuan is much more than a sport or martial art -- it is a living philosophy expressed in a series of graceful, complementary, and deeply contemplated movements.

Over the course of centuries, the movements of tai chi chuan have become icons that represent specific ideas -- ideas that can be found in ancient texts such as the I Ching and the Tao Te Ching. In other words, to understand tai chi chuan, you must first understand all of the underlying historical and philosophical concepts that give it life.


In the articles below, you will learn about the seminal ideas that structured tai chi. You will notice that the same concepts recur over vast periods of time in many different cultures. They figure prominently in myth and legend; in divination practices; in literature, poetry, painting, and calligraphy; in traditional Chinese medicine; in the esoteric arts of Buddhist and Taoist temples; and, of course, in many martial arts.

And, of course, you will learn about tai chi. The art of tai chi chuan is about achieving balance -- both physically and emotionally. Its practice strengthens you physically and reduces tension, too. Its dancelike movements will help you become flexible, strong, and relaxed all at the same time. Rather than feeling exhausted from a demanding workout, tai chi leaves you energized yet tranquil.

To begin learning about the history and practice of tai chi, see: