Tai Chi, also known as Shadow Boxing, is one of the major branches of the traditional Chinese martial arts. Its name is derived from the philosophical term, “Tai Chi,” the first known written reference of which appeared in the Book of Changes over 3000 years ago during the Zhou Dynasty (1100-1221 BC). In this book it says that “in all changes exists Tai Chi, which causes the two opposites in everything.” Tai Chi means the ultimate of ultimate, often used to describe the vastness of the universe.
The essential principles of Tai Chi are based on the ancient Chinese philosophy of Taoism, which stresses the natural balance in all things and the need for living in spiritual and physical accord with the patterns of nature. According to this philosophy, everything is composed of two opposite, but entirely complementary, elements of yin and yang, working in a relationship which is in perpetual balance. Tai Chi consists of exercises equally balanced between yin and yang, which is why it is so remarkably effective.
Yin and yang are polar opposites and are found in all things in life. In nature, everything tends toward a natural state of harmony. Likewise, yin and yang are always in total balance. Concepts such as soft, pliant, yielding and feminine are associated with yin, while concepts such as hard, rigid and masculine are associated with yang. Both sides complement each other completely and together form a perfect whole. Things which are perfectly balanced and in harmony are at peace; being at peace leads naturally to longevity. A perfectly harmonized person will show this balance and completeness by his or her tranquility and peacefulness of mind.
It is almost impossible to separate Chinese martial art history from legend. Legends hold interesting and useful messages; thus, I will share some with you (to read in Google Doc form click here History of Tai Chi . This will open in a new tab and take you to my Google Doc files.)