The exact beginnings of Tai Chi cannot be traced back to a particular person or year; rather, the art developed over the course of 2,500 years. The earliest form of this exercise dates back during the reign of King Gou Jian of Yue (an area consisting of present day Shanghai, northern Zhejiang and southern Jiangsu) from 496 - 465 B.C. During this period, records mention an art called Nei Chia, which emphasized body movements, breathing and posture to harmonize a body's internal and physical energy. Over the ensuring centuries, Nei Chia continued to evolve, eventually branching out to create a number of different art forms. One of these art forms was Tai Chi.
There are two theories as to who was the first person to practice Tai Chi. The first theory contends that a man named Chang-San Feng developed Tai Chi over 600 years ago on China's Wu-Tang mountain. The second theory argues that Chen Wan-Ting was the first person to practice the art around the year 1540. According to this version of events, Ting kept the practice a closely guarded secret among himself and his followers. The second explanation is generally the more accepted of the two theories by researchers.
Tai chi is believed to have been kept isolated to Ting's village until the end of the eighteenth century, when a student named Yang spread the practice all across mainland China. As the art began to gain followers through the country, five schools began to emerge as the most popular teachers of the art. These schools were known as Wu, Chen, Yang, Sun and Wu/Hao. The Wu school developed its exercises between 1812 and 1880, whereas the Sun style was developed between 1861 and 1932. Tai Chi was finally introduced to the West in the 1960s and 1970s.
Purpose of Tai Chi
The purpose of Tai chi is fairly simple to understand. According to traditional Chinese belief, a form of external energy called Qi runs throughout the body. Inside the body are also forces known as Yin and Yang, which much be evenly balanced with each other to maintain good health. When Qi cannot reach certain areas of the body, the Yin and Yang forces will be thrown off kilter, and the afflicted body parts will fall ill with disease. The art form was designed to strengthen Qi, allowing it to flow undisrupted through the practitioner. When Qi is able travel freely through the body, the harmony between the Yin and Yang forces will be restored.
Tai Chi has a number of proven benefits for both your mental and physical health. Researchers have found that it can help treat the following afflictions:
• Joint Stiffness
• Muscle Tension
• Poor Posture
Tai Chi has rich history, and can prove especially useful for improving your health and overall well-being. By learning and practicing this ancient art, you can take meaningful steps toward developing bodily strength and acquiring peace of mind.