Tai chi is one of the most widely practiced oriental martial arts in the world. It is not only a sport, but it is also considered a true relaxation technique which, being dynamic, gains thousands of followers every year.
Tai chi deepens its roots in yoga and Taoism, blending exercise with philosophy, mysticism and meditation. and with the aim of bringing the user to acquire complete harmony and calm at the level of body, soul and spirit.
This practice is not homogeneous, having different modalities with different movements, rhythms and suitability depending on the age and level of expertise of the practitioner. Then we will see the main types of tai chi.
What is tai chi?
Of all the sports of Asian origin, tai chi is undoubtedly one of the most famous. Considered a martial art and a relaxation technique, tai chi chuan or tai chi when it represents China is more than just a sport.. For the Chinese, it is a means of achieving balance between mind, body and soul in an energetic but not aggressive manner, the literal name of which means “supreme final fist”. Those who practice it claim that it has positive effects on health, reducing stress and improving flexibility.
Its origins are linked to Taoism and Yoga and judging by the way it is performed, it can be considered a kind of dynamic and moving meditation. This is what has surely won it so many followers over the past few decades, being more entertaining than static meditation but not as exhausting as a high intensity sport. Despite its popularity, it was not until December 17, 2020 that UNESCO declared it Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Tai chi is a heterogeneous practice with different modalities based on different principles and with varied therapeutic purposes. It should be mentioned that while it can help the health of those who practice it, this sport is not a medical or psychological treatment, so it does not replace any therapy, however, the degree of well-being that this martial art brings can help those who practice it to be more serene.
Main types of tai chi
The practice of tai chi has five main modalities that vary in its repertoire of movements, postures and exercises that will be recommended depending on the physical condition of the person who will practice it.
1. Tai-chi Chen
Tai Chi Chen is named after the person who created it. Chén Wangting (1580-1660) by Chen Cheniagou assimilated different martial arts techniques, combining them and giving birth to their own version of the sport which they called “pao chui” (“cannon shot”), with roots in the Shaolin martial art which received the same name.
As a result, we have a tai chi modality which consists of five routines with a total of 108 postures which give it great complexity although, if performed correctly, the maximum point of relaxation can be reached in one movement. .
2. Tai-chi Yang
It is inspired by the thought of Yang Lùchán (1799-1872), whose lineage gave birth to three prestigious tai chi schools, and who learned his art from Chen Changxing (1771-1853).
In this tai chi modality it promotes long and calm movements, without changing the rhythm of the breaths or the impulse that is exerted and that is why it is recommended for very novice beginners and the elderly. The way it is hardly practiced has changed over the centuries.
3. Tai-chi Wu
Wu-tai chi is one of the most widely practiced. It has very similar foundations to Yang, but with modifications that have simplified it in its positions and with more fluid movements.. Its name is due to Wu Quanyou (1834-1902), who was the pupil of Yang Lùchán.
During the twentieth century, small changes were made, making it a martial art consisting of 37 movements, ideal for practitioners who did not have the time or patience to learn the long stretches of the more traditional forms. . Thanks to its simplicity, the Tai Chi style is considered the second most practiced modality of this martial art.
4. Tai Chi Hao
It is considered tai chi Hao com a variation of the Wu style in the hands of Hao Yue-ru, a martial arts master who included slow, level jumps in the moves, but kept the quick moves of the original style.
There is also the idea that this technique was originally created by Wu Yuxiang (1812-1880), who had two brothers, Wu Dengqing and Wu Ruqing, both civil servants.
The three brothers became interested in martial arts after learning hanging boxing techniques from the Shaolin monks with their father. All three studied with Yang Lùchán, whose children were taken care of by Wu Yuxiang who would introduce a small structure sequence into the technique.
5. Tai-tx Sol
Sun Lutang (1860-1933) combined the foundations of martial arts known from his time, including Xingyiquan and Baguazhang, with the main movements of tai chi.. As in the other modalities of this martial art, Sun brought his knowledge of the culture of Qi (mystical energy) by working it to, according to him and his beliefs, achieve the balance between body and soul.
This type of tai chi is the most recent and differs from others in that the body acquires a higher position, in addition the point of balance does not fall on one foot but both are placed at an angle of 45º in the goal of achieving movements of greater flexibility and speed. Between movement and movement there is a transition of opening and closing.
The above five modalities are considered to be the most widely practiced and popular tai chi techniques in the world, although they are not the only ones. Among the other variations of tai chi, we have the styles Xin Yi, Wu Dang, Zhaobao Taijiquan, Zheng Zong and Hulei, which like the others share the goal of harmonizing body, mind and soul and bring peace and calm to the one who practices it.
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