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What Are Tai Chi Exercises?

By James Young

Tai Chi Chuan's complete systems include many qigongs and other exercises designed to develop flexible strength and internal energy. This old kung fu practice applies to health and longevity issues equally well as to martial applications.


With roots in even older martial arts and both Taoist and Buddhist meditations, Tai Chi Chuan developed through the work of a long succession of different masters. Each contributed new techniques and new applications of the same fundamental concepts.

Physical Concepts

Tai chi does not depend upon physical strength for effectiveness but does require high levels of skill and special techniques. Though often taught now as a soft skill, in the older forms athletic prowess was an important factor, with equal emphasis on hard and soft abilities.

Energy Training

Whether practiced for health or for fighting, Tai Chi Chuan exercises always focus as much upon the internal energy of chi as upon physical strength. Exercises include visualizations of energy channels, energy points and energy movements that underlie the physical forms.

Stance Training

One of the fundamental exercises in tai chi kung fu, stance training requires stillness, breath control and physical strength. Movements use the special strengths and leverage advantages of basic stances to achieve spectacular results.

Esoteric Knowledge

Applying equally to health practices and fighting, Tai Chi Chuan details the body's vulnerable points and secrets of natural healing. Advanced exercises include beneficial internal massage techniques as well as Dim Mak, the art of striking the body's hidden weaknesses.

Long Form

The tai chi long forms publicly practiced in parks are the most popular of all tai chi exercises. Correct practice depends upon mastery of simpler things, while correct application depends upon knowledge and abilities invisible to the eye.

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