I even had a friend ask me if it was one of those expensive coffee house drinks; I told him, "No, that drink would be "chai tea.”
A fast growing exercise with about 85 million training it daily internationally (source: http://qialance.com/how-many-people-practice-tai-chi/), there's more than just Asians or old folks making it part of their lives, with or without tea.
Tai Chi, translated, means “grand ultimate fist” and is a self defense, practiced primarily for health, balance and well being, an internal martial art that utilizes Qigong (or “energy cultivation”), a 3,000-year-old Chinese based exercise to develop its slow movements unique to itself. Some call it meditation in motion because of its benefits.
I've been a martial artist for over 45 years, training in karate, kickboxing and judo. Tai Chi was introduced to me in the mid-1970's as an adjunct to my practice. I wasn't impressed then about learning it, since I was young and interested more in learning how to be like the legendary and late Bruce Lee. Little did I know, Bruce Lee's first martial art was Tai Chi that he learned from his father.
After about 20 years of virtually eliminating it from my workouts, I resumed my Qigong and Tai Chi journey when I was diagnosed with hypertension and needed to find ways of off setting the condition. I heard that the internal martial arts was good for you but didn't realize how much until I reintroduced it into my life. I was trained well by my instructor, and it didn't take me long before I reached a strong level of competence. That was about 15 years ago, and I have not turned my back on it since, practicing it each and every morning.
The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi: 12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart, and Sharp Mind (Harvard Health Publications) by Peter Wayne, Md says that there are eight active ingredients that describe the martial art.
- Awareness, Mindfulness, Focused Attention
- Intention, Belief, Expectation
- Dynamic Structural Integration
- Active Relaxation of Mind and Body
- Aerobic Exercise, Musculoskeletal Strengthening, and Flexibility
- Natural, Freer Breathing
- Social Interaction and Community
- Embodied Spirituality, Philosophy, and Ritual
And that the combination of the ingredients above completes a recipe for a full holistic mind and body approach to exercise that reaps tremendous benefits. The book is comprehensive and I recommend any Tai Chi enthusiast to pick it up and read it, if not once, but multiple times. It provides an intellectual perspective that I found astute, insightful and useful.
To help you get an idea some of the differences, I've provided the videos below.
The first video is Ren Guang Yi performing an explosive Cannon Fist Chen style form.