The Internal Art of Tai Chi


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Why Tai Chi?


So why is this particular martial art called “tai chi”?  The origin of the name has a Taoist connection.  When we think of the yin-yang, there’s equal yin as there is yang within a circle.  The yin-yang represents polar opposites such as male/female, light/dark, strong/weak.  Remember that the term “tai chi” translates to be the “extreme ultimate”.  The Taoist call the yin-yang “tai chi” because in nature, the tai chi symbol arises from a disordered state called “wuji”.  However, Nature sorts herself out to yield the extreme poles of yin and yang.   


When we start tai chi, our feet are together and there are no thoughts.  This represents the state of wuji.  Then when we start, we separate our feet and start the intention of movement.  This is the start of tai chi since the yin and yang are being defined by our steps and body movement.



The Yin-Yang (aka. The tai chi diagram)


When we examine the yin-yang, we notice that there is continual transition from yin to yang and vice versa.  If we run any line from the edge of the circle through the center to the opposite side, at no point can we get only yang or only yin.  There will always be a bit of contamination by the other.  This is also represented by the smaller circles within each side.  The significance of these observations for tai chi is that we want to achieve balance.  Whether it is for martial art purposes by neutralizing a strong opponent, or for health with relieving mental stress (yang), the soft movements in tai chi can be used to restore balance. 



Updated August 29, 2011