Tai Chi - How To Get Started
Updated: May 4
Tai Chi is a Chinese term that means supreme ultimate¹. It is also the name of an ancient Chinese discipline that involves a series of slow, gentle movements and physical postures, a meditative state of mind, and controlled breathing²³⁴. Tai Chi originated as a martial art, but it is now practiced for its health benefits and meditation²⁵. Tai Chi is sometimes described as meditation in motion because it promotes serenity through gentle movements that connect the mind and body⁶.
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There are five main types or styles of Tai Chi that are named after the Chinese families who originated them: Chen, Yang, Wu/Hao, Wu, and Sun²⁴⁶. Each style follows the same premise of combining meditation and martial arts, but there are some slight variations in appearance and training methods¹².
Chen is the oldest and original form of Tai Chi that dates back to the 1600s. It alternates between fast and slow movements with bursts of power and low stances¹².
Yang is the most popular and widely practiced style of Tai Chi around the world. It features smooth, graceful, and continuous movements with a moderate pace and high stances¹².
Wu/Hao is also known as Wu Yu-hsiang style. It is one of the rarest and most refined styles of Tai Chi. It emphasizes small, subtle, and internal movements with a focus on balance and energy flow¹².
Wu is also known as Wu Chien-chuan style. It is derived from the Yang style and has some similarities with it. It features medium-sized movements with a focus on relaxation and softness¹².
Sun is the youngest and most modern style of Tai Chi that was created in the early 20th century. It combines elements from the other four styles and incorporates footwork from another martial art called Bagua. It features lively, agile, and flexible movements with a focus on breathing and mental concentration¹².
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(2) Tai chi - Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tai_chi.
(3) Of All The Tai Chi Styles, Which Types of Tai Chi Are the Best?. https://taichibasics.com/which-tai-chi-style-is-the-best/.
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(6) Tai Chi: What You Need To Know | NCCIH. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/tai-chi-what-you-need-to-know.
How long does it take to learn Tai chi? The answer to this question may vary depending on several factors, such as the style and form of Tai Chi you are learning, the number and length of your sessions, your personal goals and preferences, and your level of practice and dedication¹⁵.
On average, it takes 3-12 months to learn Tai Chi if you attend weekly classes and practice in between until you have the basic movements memorized¹. However, learning Tai Chi is not just about memorizing the moves, but also about developing a deeper understanding of the principles and philosophy behind them. Therefore, it may take longer to master the art and achieve a higher level of skill and proficiency⁵.
Some people may prefer to learn Tai Chi by themselves through online courses or videos. This can be a convenient and flexible option, but it may also require more self-discipline and motivation. It may take 30-40 hours of practice to learn Tai Chi by yourself, but you may miss out on some feedback and guidance from a qualified instructor⁵.
Ultimately, learning Tai Chi is a lifelong journey that can bring you many health benefits and personal satisfaction. You can start with a short or simple form that suits your needs and abilities, and then progress to more advanced or complex forms as you gain more experience and confidence¹²³⁴⁶. The most important thing is to enjoy the process and have fun!
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Tai Chi has many health benefits for people of all ages and fitness levels. Some of the benefits include¹²³⁴⁵:
Reducing stress and anxiety. Tai Chi can help you relax and calm your mind through gentle movements and breathing techniques. It can also improve your mood and mental well-being.
Improving balance and preventing falls. Tai Chi can strengthen your muscles and joints, enhance your posture and coordination, and increase your awareness of your body and surroundings. This can help you avoid losing your balance and falling, especially if you are older or have Parkinson's disease.
Relieving pain and improving function. Tai Chi can ease pain and stiffness in your muscles, joints, and bones. It can also improve your flexibility, mobility, and range of motion. This can help you cope with chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, back pain, and neck pain.
Boosting brain power and memory. Tai Chi can stimulate your brain activity and cognitive function. It can also enhance your attention, concentration, learning, and memory. This can help you prevent or delay cognitive decline and dementia.
Strengthening your immune system and heart health. Tai Chi can improve your blood circulation and lower your blood pressure. It can also boost your immune system and reduce inflammation. This can help you prevent or manage cardiovascular diseases, infections, and autoimmune disorders.