What is Tai Chi?

The full name for Tai Chi is Tau Chi Chuan. Tai means “great” or “large” and Chi means “biggest” or “most ultimate.” The two words combined translate into “the Supreme Ultimate.” Chuan means “fist” or “boxing” and so Tai Chi Chuan is translated into the “Supreme Ultimate Fist.”

Tai Chi has evolved from a long lineage of practitioners and has been adapted to several human needs over time. At one point in the 1700s in China it was a secret that was passed on by word of mouth and used for self-defense. In the 1800s it became a fighting art that was used to train the military and by the mid-1800s it became a public technique for “personal development and longevity exercises.” By the time the 1900s rolled around it became a national Chinese treasure that was shared with the world as a national sport and performing art.

Today in the United States, there is a shift towards a holistic view of health which seeks to complement Western medicine with Eastern practices. Several scientific studies have examined the benefits of Tai Chi for ailments like Parkinson’s disease, heart disease and problems associated with aging like loss of muscle mass, impaired balance and reduced cognitive function. This has led to the incorporation of Tai Chi classes at hospitals, clinics and fitness centers.

There are 5 major styles of Tai Chi:

  • Chen-style
  • Yang-style
  • Wu- or Wu(Hao)-style of Wu Yu-hsiang
  • Wu-style of Wu Ch’uan-yu
  • Sun-style

The different styles of Tai Chi share many core principles but differ in the way they express them. Each style consists of a number of forms and movements and may be done with bare hands or with weapons such as swords. Some forms have as few as 8 movements while others have upwards of 100.

Tai Chi is an amalgam of martial arts, the healing arts and philosophy. Most people today practice it for health reasons and enjoy its meditative properties. It is often referred to as “moving meditation” and is praised for integrating the mind, body and spirit.

The Tai Chi for Strength and Balance form (TCSB) is derived from Traditional Sun Style Tai Chi. It specializes in the exact movement patterns required for safe and stable locomotion. Safe and stable locomotion are they key to maintaining independence and a better quality in life as we get older.

If you would like to remain independent and really enjoy your life, you should consider the TCSB form. It will help you stabilize your core, connect your mind and body as well as promote a healthy gait cycle. These benefits will improve your strength and balance, which will help prevent falls.

For a free handout on TCSB or to purchase a copy of the TCSB video, please visit our store.


Wayne, Peter, and Mark Fuerst. The Harvard medical school guide to tai chi: 12 weeks to a healthy body, strong heart, and sharp mind. Boston: Shambhala, 2013. Print.

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