Welcome to the new Tai Chi Central.
This site has seen several changes since 2004. Efforts are ongoing to improve this site and make it as useful as possible to teachers and students of all styles. It is supported primarily by its membership.
- those who practice for health, fitness, and relaxation
- those who practise it as a martial art.
To do so may be to express a limited view of health, of martial arts, and of tai chi.
The art itself addresses universal concerns for health, wisdom, fitness, harmony, community, empowerment, self defence, personal transformation, enlightenment, athleticism, sport, philosophy, relaxation, strength, balance, and peace of mind.
Everyone can benefit from some level of tai chi practice. To categorize it in a limited way might imply that it is only for the elderly and infirm, or only for competitive martial artists. Senior citizens, elite athletes, martial artists, energetic children, adults of all backgrounds, contemplatives of all religions, philosophers, healers, soldiers, artists, leaders, followers… All find value in the practice and many find it an indispensable part of their lives.
The correct name of the art is “Tai Chi Chuan” or “Taijiquan” (pinyin spelling). Understanding the meaning of the name will shed some light on the reason for the universal appeal of the art. “Chuan” or “quan” translates as “fist” although it can mean “exercise”, “work”, “martial routine”or “martial style.” “Tai chi” or “Taiji” is a philosophical concept that addresses the duality (yin & yang) that defines the phenomenal universe. (Can’t get much more universal than that.)
Tai chi chuan, then, is an exercise and martial art based on an understanding of the fundamental nature of our existence. It addresses the mutual interdependence of relative opposites: up and down, hot and cold, hard and soft, yes and no, existent and non-existent, me and “not me”, aggressive and passive, masculine and feminine, etc.
The power of understanding the balance of nature, and the ability to manifest this understanding in physical action, makes the art of tai chi chuan of great and lasting value to the world and the people in it.
Tai Chi Community
I have attended several tai chi conferences, seminars, and competitions over the years. In so doing I have had the great pleasure of interacting with people who practise balance as an art form. It is amazing how much fun such people can have. One might think that becoming profoundly aware of one’s centre and learning to adapt to the slightest imbalance or perturbation might make a tai chi expert particularly reserved or even boring. It seems that the opposite is often the case.
It seems that when one is able to find balance easily, one can stray from the centre much more freely. So, while some tai chi gatherings are mellow and contemplative affairs, I have found that no group enjoys themselves more easily than tai chi folks.
Conflict takes on a different meaning in tai chi circles as well, whether in committee or in competition. You might be shocked to learn that tai chi competitions even exist, since tai chi is supposed to be non-confrontational, after all. But being non-confrontational is not the same as being passive or non-engaging. There are, in fact, several types of tai chi competitions – including but not limited to:
- routines that are scored by judges,
- restricted-step and free-stepping tuishou (pushing hands)
- sanshou (free hands)
- and even weapon sparring
It was while attending one of these competitions with my students that the unique character of tai chi became very apparent. One of my students was a 2nd degree black belt in another martial art before he began learning tai chi, and he had attended several martial arts tournaments over the years. He was impressed (dare I say “dumbfounded”) when he noticed competitors giving each other valuable advice in advance of their events. These competitors were from different countries, and different lineages. They had no affiliation whatsoever before they met. Yet here they were giving away their secrets right before confronting each other on the mat. The sharing continued over the next few days. At night, the hotel lobbies and conference rooms were occupied by ad-hoc gatherings of sleep-deprived martial artists from several countries. The were openly sharing knowledge, “playing taiji”, and occasionally acting out scenes from a Monty Python movie with tai chi swords and those cylindrical hotel ash cans.
Now, we once again move with the times and adapt to the constantly changing reality. This new format for TaiChiCentral.com is the most promising yet. I have high hopes that it will be able to adapt and change with us as we work to promote and strengthen the diverse community of tai chi players around the world.
Event listings will still be edited manually by an administrator. School owners and instructors can submit information about events such as seminars, grand openings, celebrations, conferences, competitions etc. Events that are relevant to a global audience will be posted in the event calendar.
Other features planned for this site are a blog, seminar list, instructional videos, reference videos, articles, newsletters, lineage chart, advice for schools and teachers, and more.