Learning Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan
What is Tai Chi Chuan?
It is an exercise discipline known throughout the Orient for many centuries. The movements are based mostly on circular motion and flow at a smooth even tempo, making for perfect balance as the weight of the body is shifted from one side to the other. If practised carefully it will bring about a high level of body control. This in turn results in greatly increased powers of mental concentration. To practice the art you need nothing more than the floor space of an average room. Tai Chi Chuan teaches how to conserve and increase your energy flow. For this reason it is suitable for people of all ages. When practised properly, one is less tired at the end of a session than at the beginning. It is indeed a wonderful tonic for the mind and body.
Where did it Begin?
Since 2675 B.C. several forms of martial arts have been practised and highly valued in the Orient. There are many different versions of the history of Tai Chi Chuan. One thing is certain. It developed under the influence of the philosophy of Taoism which over the years evolved into a number of systems of meditation, breathing exercises, and other techniques to maintain health. The story is told that in the twelfth century, a monk called Chang San Feng was sitting at his usual six-hour meditation when he heard strange sounds outside. Looking out the window into the garden below, he noticed a snake with raised head and darting tongue hissing at a crane. The crane then swooped down on the snake and the fight was on. As the snake tried to dart its fangs into the crane's leg, the crane would raise the leg and lower a wing to ward off the attack. After some time when neither creature could make contact with the other, they both tired of the fight and stopped. From this observation, Chang realized that the real wisdom of self-defence lay in knowing how to yield in the face of strength. He then formulated the movements of Tai Chi Chuan based on the battle between the snake and the crane.
Tai Chi Chuan for Health
This is not a system for building up muscles. By perfecting the movements one learns both coordination and relaxation of the entire body. The resulting control leads to a very high degree of physical proficiency. The general level of performance of everything you do is improved. With better breathing and better circulation comes better health.
Tai Chi Chuan for Serenity
Mind and body are indivisible. Control of both is essential so that they may act in harmony. Tai Chi Chuan has been called "meditation in movement". When the movements have been well learned, there is a noticeable increase in one's powers of concentration. This training teaches one to have an open mind. Since a relaxed state is absolutely necessary before you can learn the movements properly, all stress and tension must be left behind.
Tai Chi Chuan for Self-Defence
Lao Tzu, a 4th Century B.C. Chinese philosopher, put the whole thing in a nutshell: "Nothing under heaven is softer or more yielding than water; but when it attacks things that are hard and resistant, there is not one of them that can prevail. That the yielding conquers the resistant and the soft conquers the hard is a fact known by all men, yet utilized by none." Tai Chi Chuan develops the ability to know when the opponent is going to attack. Speed, sensitivity, and flexibility are built up, rather than brute force. If you learn to see danger before it reaches you, it can be neutralized. As the old Tai Chi saying goes, "four ounces can move a thousand pounds".