- About Tai Chi
- What Is Chen-style Tai Chi?
- Tai Chi Blog
- Further Reading
What Is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi is a fusion of martial arts, health-preserving and restoring exercises, and meditation. You can learn how to connect with your body at a very deep level, and how to coordinate your mind and body in a unique way. The result is a healthier and more relaxed body and mind, and newfound strength and fitness that doesn't depend on slaving away in a gym.
This website provides information on Chen-style Tai Chi practice in Scotland. See also the Links section for further online resources, and the Wikipedia articles, "Tai chi chaun" and "Chen style tai chi chaun".
What Can Tai Chi Do For Me?
There are many different and complementary aspects to Tai Chi practice. What are you looking for?
- Martial Arts Training
- Tai Chi helps you understand how your body works at a deep level. You balance will improve, and your ability to use all your body's power at the same time will increase. You will become more relaxed and better able to respond and blend with the movements of your opponents. In time, the practice leads into pushing hands training and weapons forms, which both build skill and strength in useful and healthy ways. In contrast to some styles, rather than having to give up eventually when you get older, your skill and understanding will only increase, making it a art that can be practised throughout your life.
- Gentle Exercise And Relaxation
- The exercises and form practice in Tai Chi can be as gentle or as vigorous as you please. The core muscles are worked whilst simultaneously promoting relaxation throughout the body, keeping you fit and fluid without getting tired out. Also, Tai Chi is sometimes called "moving meditation", meaning that just practising can have a deeply relaxing effect, helping to combat stress and anxiety. This is explored in further detail in the CTCS blog post, "Meditation In Tai Chi".
- Improved Posture, Reduced Joint And Back Pain
- In Tai Chi, you learn how to hold yourself in a natural fashion, which results in improved posture and in turn this relieves the stress on overworked joints and muscles. As you learn about your postural habits and tendencies, you gradually improve the way in which you hold yourself and the way you use your body. Ultimately, this results in a stronger, more fluid but more relaxed body, and a feeling of effortlessness.
- Relief From Chronic Health Conditions
- Some chronic or long-term health conditions may respond positively
to Tai Chi practice. For example, the British Heart Foundation has approved the practice of Tai Chi in patients recovering from heart
failure, while one study found that Tai Chi helped
"improve diabetes". See also the following;
- "The effect of Tai Chi on health outcomes in patients with chronic conditions: a systematic review" (abstract)
- "Tai Chi Exercise in Patients with Chronic Heart Failure" (see also the references at the end)
What Is Chen-Style Tai Chi?
Chen-family Tai Chi Chuan is the oldest style of Tai Chi (Tàijíquán in Pinyin). It was created at the end of the Ming dynasty in China by a retired general, Chen Wanting. It has been handed down through generations of the Chen family, and until relatively recently could only be found in Chen village, Honan province, or Beijing. Thanks to the efforts of the modern Chen masters, it is now possible to find instruction in Chen-family Tai Chi throughout the world.
What Makes Chen-style Different?
- Chen-style's movements are particularly rounded, flowing and smooth, and emphasise moving the body through its full range of motion. The spirals that are characteristic of Tai Chi movement are particularly evident in Chen-style.
- "Fa Jing"
- While the majority of movements in the Chen forms are slow and flowing, advanced practitioners may choose to test their progress by performing certain movements in the form very quickly, with bursts of focussed energy. The contrast between fast and slow allows for a balanced practice, though these moved are not required, and are discouraged until more advanced stages are reached.
- More Than One Form
- While most styles of Tai Chi contain routines with traditional weapons, most have only a single empty-hand form. Chen-style has several, reflecting its roots as a martial art in China. However, as with all styles of Tai Chi, everything starts with the basic form.
- Hard And Soft Combined
- Many Tai Chi styles or teachers emphasise only softness and yielding. While a great many people require this and benefit from it, it is only one half of Taijiquan. Chen-style remains true to its roots and the principles of the art, and offers students a complete system for self-defence: for the mind, the body and the spirit.
- Unusual Weapon Forms
- Chen-style has a large number of weapon forms, and practises some that are not found in other Tai Chi branches. For example, Guao Dao.
Tai Chi Blog
In the Chen Tai Chi Scotland blog, Rory Hunter discusses what's on his mind Tai Chi-wise, offering help, tips, or discussions of anything and everything to do with Tai Chi.
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Further Reading on Taijiquan and Internal Martial Arts
Tai Chi For Every Body
This book contains all the essential information for the beginning Tai Chi student. It covers the motiviations for practice, the fundamental silk-reeling exercise and the first part of the form. The authors, particularly Eva Koskuba, periodically come to Edinburgh for seminars.
Chen: Living Taijiquan in the Classical Style
This book covers Tai Chi from a variety of angles and in depth, focussing on the Chen-style. Jan Silberstorff became the first Western indoor student and family disciple of Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang in 1993. This book is an excellent translation of the original text in German.
Chen Style: The Source Of Taijiquan
This book gives an excellent account of the history of the Chen-style, and discusses the theoretical underpinnings of many aspects of practice.
Lost T'ai-chi Classics from the Late Ch'ing Dynasty
While there are now many publications of the Tai Chi "Classics", Wile's book examines the historical context of the finding of these documents. It also investigates the transition of Tai Chi from being practiced soley by martial artists to being accepted by the gentry class in Chian. Previously unavailable versions of the classics are included.
Chi Kung: The Way of Energy
This book covers the practice of Zhan Zhuang, or Standing Post, in much detail.
Nei Jia Quan: Internal Martial Arts
This book contains interviews with masters of Tai Chi, Ba Gua Zhang, and Xing Yi Quan, covering their different perspectives on the internal arts.
Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching
This is not so much a translation of Lao Tzu's classic text, but Le Guin's own rendition, drawing together a variety of other translations, her own ideas, and a fresh, every day style of writing. The result is startling and direct, and very refreshing. As the cornerstone of Daoism and a heavy influence on Taijiquan, this is highly recommended.