Tai Chi is said to be have been developed by Zhang San Feng, a Taoist monk who believed that martial arts practitioners need not exert physical energy when performing techniques. This style is based on the principle of the soft over the hard and the use of one’s internal energy over external muscle.
This art is often practiced for the purposes of health and longevity (some recent medical studies support its effectiveness here). Tai Chi is considered a soft style martial art, an art applied with a complete relaxation or “softness” in the musculature as possible, to distinguish its theory and application from that of the hard martial art styles which use a degree of tension in the muscles. Tai Chi is well known as one of the slow motion routines that groups of people practice every morning in hundreds of parks across China and, recently, other parts of the world.
The physical techniques of tai chi are characterized by the use of leverage, coordination and relaxation to neutralize or to initiate attacks. The study of tai chi is traditionally broken up into 3 beneficial elements, for health; for serenity; and for self-defense.
In Tai Chi classes one is taught awareness of one’s own balance and what affects it, awareness of the same in others, and appreciation of the practical value in one’s ability to moderate extremes of behaviour and attitude at both mental and physical levels, and how this applies to effective self-defense principles.