When there is no more separation between ‘this’ and ‘that’ it is called the still-point of Tao. At the still-point in the centre of the circle one can see the infinite in all things.
Chuang Tsu, Inner Chapters (2, The Equality of All Things)
Tai Chi is about internal strength and is based on very profound Taoist philosophy and wisdom as found in the I Ching and the writings of Lao Tsu and Chuang Tsu. To learn Tai Chi without the philosophy and its history is like learning Tai Chi in black and white rather than in colour. Yin and Yang is the greatest philosophy of all, the beginning of the universe, two opposite particles, which evolve into the 8 Trigrams.
The Way gave birth to unity. Unity gave birth to duality. Duality gave birth to trinity. Trinity gave birth to the myriad creatures.
Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching (42)
Tai Chi is what life is all about. In doing Tai Chi we aim to continuously improve ourselves, maintaining brain creativity and a supple body, just as the universe is forever in motion. To do this we must move in a circular way, with minimum effort, yet maximum return. When you do Tai Chi the flow of energy mirrors that of the universe. The stars and celestial bodies are continuously moving. Human beings need to replicate the perpetual motion of the heavenly bodies in their minds and movement. For the energy to flow properly the knees must be bent and the mind must be with the thought, directing the energy. In Tai Chi, when one part of the body moves the other parts follow. If the body moves in a circular way and the arms spiral and twist, the hands will begin to feel warmer. Energy is conserved and yet the blood is forced to travel a longer distance as a result of the circular and spiral movement.
Human beings are soft and supple when alive and stiff and straight when dead… the trees are soft and fragile when alive, dry and withered when dead
Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching (76)
The secret to Tai Chi is seeking tranquillity in motion, which is represented by the pause between movements and breathing. When we pause we build little moments of calmness and so, as one practises the set they create more and more calmness through the consistent pausing.
Tai Chi is a long-term discipline and once you have learnt it you must keep practising it in order to achieve its benefits and results. By repeating what is good you will get positive results but you must keep practising. Positive actions lead to positive results. With regular practice, Tai Chi develops the self on three capacities (physical, mental and spiritual). Physically it improves your heath. Mentally it gives you peace of mind and clears the head. Spiritually it gives you wisdom of the soul. Without exercising our spiritual capacity our life seems incomplete. Tai Chi is about the body, energy, the mind and the spirit.
The basic requirement of Tai Chi is 36 movements. The 108 moves are made up of 3 sub sets of 36 movements. Heaven (set 1), Human Beings (sets 2 and 3) and Earth (sets 4,5,6).