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Tai Chi, popular all over the world
    2008-10-28 10:17:01     CRIENGLISH.com

Last week, the 11th International Taijiquan Competition concluded in Handan, one of the originating places of Tai Chi in northern China. Over 2,000 competitors from both home and abroad participated in the competition and tens of thousands of spectators watched. Tai Chi has become more and more popular and is practiced among people from all over the world.

Tai Chi Practitioners Practicing in a Park [Photo source: CRIEnglish]


Chinese martial arts are famous around the world thanks to the spectacular Kung Fu movies made by famous Kung Fu stars such as Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. People usually consider Chinese martial arts as fabulous skills which are effective in combat. However, there is one exception that is very slow and gentle but is ranked number one among all the martial arts C Tai Chi.
Also known as Taijiquan in Chinese, Tai Chi can be literally translated as "supreme ultimate fist". Since the concept of the "supreme ultimate" appears in both Taoist and Confucian Chinese philosophy, Tai Chi theory and practice evolved in agreement with many of the principles of Chinese philosophy. According to Wang Shuanghe, who has been practicing martial arts since the 1960s, Tai Chi is not just a martial art.

"Through practicing Tai Chi, we can get a deeper understanding of China's culture. Tai Chi is only a carrier to express the connotation of our profound culture. The core of Tai Chi is to achieve harmony both physically and mentally, which is very important to one's personal development and the development of society as a whole."

Originally developed as a form of combat, Tai Chi is now widely practiced for the health benefits it provides. In Tai Chi, each movement flows into the next, and the entire body is in constant motion, with the movements performed gently and at uniform speed.

Competitor of the Taijiquan Competition [Photo source: CRIEnglish]

Cui Zhongsan, the fifth generation of Chinese Yang style Taijiquan practitioners, has practiced Tai Chi for over 50 years and says many elements are included within the practice.

"There is a theory in Tai Chi, which says that when one part of the body moves, every other part of the body moves along with it. While practicing it, functions of respiratory, digestive, motive and neural systems can all be improved. So it is a very effective form of aerobics."

Diana Roqua from Portugal, shares a similar view on her practice of Tai Chi.

"It's an internal work of the energy. From outside, you don't see the strength, but inside it's very powerful, and the practitioner can feel it."

For many practitioners, the focus in doing Tai Chi is not martial. It is first and foremost a meditative exercise of the mind. Cui Zhongsan explains that since Tai Chi emphasizes the concentration of thoughts along with deep, relaxed breath, it can help to achieve a calmer mental state.

"The focus of Tai Chi is mainly mental, not physical, so it is a philosophical and mental art. It helps one control movements through his or her thoughts so as to improve intelligence and mental well-being."

Competitor in the Taijiquan Competition [Photo source: CRIEnglish]

During the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Tai Chi was prominently featured and as a result, the graceful movements started to attract more and more interest from the rest of the world. The exercise has now become a trend in many countries. Ugur Osman, who has been practicing Tai Chi for 18 year, runs a martial arts school in London and has taught many students.

"It's quite popular in the UK, especially among older people. People see Tai Chi and recognize it and people enjoy this exercise. It has many benefits; makes me stronger, healthier, intelligent, and it also looks nice."

Many people consider Tai Chi an exercise for older people, but experts say it is actually a sport for all ages. Nelson Barroso, a 20-year Tai Chi practitioner, is a Physical Education teacher in Portugal.

"It's not good for only old people, but for young people it is very good to do this. I teach it in the school, and the students like Tai Chi. In the beginning, they think it's too slow, but after, they say 'oh, this is good for me. Now my legs are strong'. Yes, very nice."

Wang Shuanghe is also promoting Tai Chi to young people in high school.

"From my experience, Tai Chi is really helpful for students' study and their personal development. For example, I used to teach a boy who was not good at study. After practicing Tai Chi with me, he found it easier to focus and thus became more efficient in study. All of his teachers felt incredible about his change. And he believes Tai Chi has helped him become more confident and capable."

It is estimated that Tai Chi has the largest group of practitioners in the world as a form of exercise. To help promote it to more young people, a set of Tai Chi Gymnastics has been developed by experts based on traditional Taijiquan and is now being introduced to some schools and gymnasiums. It is hoped that Tai Chi will become a world-wide practice among all kinds of people.




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