Sinclair Internal Arts Tai chi (taijiquan)

How does tai chi work?


Whether or not you are interested in tai chi as a martial art, the health benefits of tai chi are a result of its history as a martial art.
Balance, flexibility, relaxation, strength, peace of mind, structural alignment and efficiency of movement are of vital importance to advanced martial artists. Tai chi was began as a refinement of martial training by elite (and senior) martial artists. In fact, tai chi seems to have been created and developed by elite military retirees.

Tai chi includes static postures and moving exercises that look more like yoga or dance than typical martial arts exercises. Like dance and yoga, tai chi exercises can be modified to suit any fitness level.
It has been said that, if you can move, you can dance. If you can breathe, you can do tai chi. Just as dance has many levels of difficulty, so does tai chi. For some, increased difficulty means more challenging acrobatics. But for tai chi, increased difficulty also means increased levels of subtlety.

Tai chi Elements

Neigong (aka qigong) : similar to some types of yoga, but using natural and functional postures, stretching, breath work, core training, and integration of mind and body. Cultivating extraordinary power and proprioception.

Forms (choreographed movement): moving meditation designed to teach mechanical efficiency, balance, and coordination. Some schools teach martial applications of the movement. But this is more to help remembers the choreography than to teach self defence.

Tuishou ( "pushing hands"): a set of cooperative, two-person exercises that teaches ways to deal with linear momentum, angular momentum, and kinetic energy. These skills are intended for application in martial art, and can be applied to any sport or physical endeavour.

Strategy, techniques, and methodology: Ways of applying tai chi, not only for martial arts, but in all aspects of life.

Philosophy and science: Interested in further exploration into the nature of the universe and our place in it? Tai chi can be a tool and platform for exploration.

Religion?: No. Your religion is your own business. I've taught clergy and laypeople from just about every major religion, often in the same class, and we've had some great discussions about them over coffee. But tai chi, like any sport, is not a religion unless you make it one. The only dogmas here involve respect for yourself and your classmates, and critical thinking when it comes to the curriculum.

Styles: There are many different styles of tai chi. Each is based on the culture and pathology of the creators. I have learned many different styles, and recommend learning everything you can from the traditional lineages. However, I don't expect my students to mimic me or my teachers. Your goal is not to learn a style. That is just a step on the way to developing your own style.

What style do I teach? I am not as interested in teaching a style as I am in teaching people. But if you need to know, I teach versions of Yang style, Chen style, Sun style, Wu style, and others. And I teach my own style, which is still evolving.