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(9 pages total)

Page 6 - Taijiquan (T'ai Chi) Basics

A quick trip to almost any park in China in a metropolitan city at daybreak will uncover acres of Taijiquan practitioners (referred to as "players" in China). Some of these players are highly skilled, but most are beginners struggling to complete the complex set of movements under the watchful eye of their teachers. It is a social and cultural gathering for the elderly, a mild exercise to awaken the young, and a way of promoting and extending life for the "baby boomer" generation.

In the last 20 years, Taijiquan has spread throughout the world, propagated by immigrant populations and the opening of China in the mid 1970s. Despite the lack of respect modern Asian countries such as Taiwan and Japan developed for other traditional disciplines such as Qigong and herbal remedies, Taijiquan and Acupuncture have kept the respect of the general public. Of course, now all of these traditional disciplines are regaining their respect and public interest as they gradually become supported by modern scientific studies.

Although practiced by men and women of all ages and economic status, Taijiquan has always attracted students of philosophy, art, and those concerned with personal development. Unfortunately, like other exercise programs, many people begin to study Taijiquan, but few study long enough or hard enough to really understand or to even benefit from the practice of the miraculous system of exercise and healthcare.

United States

In the United States, both the West coast and the East coast communities have strong followings of Taijiquan players. While many Americans learn from non-Asian teachers, the strongholds of the art still reside in large metropolitan areas where the Chinese immigrants are plentiful. Up until the 1970s, the major style in the United States was a modified Yang style taught by Professor Chen ManCheng, who immigrated to New York City from Taiwan.

In the past 30 years, the "opening" of China has brought the five major styles of mainland China to Americans, and has moved Taijiquan from the Kung Fu studios to health gyms, community colleges, retirement homes, and even hospitals.

One can even find brief performances of Taijiquan in many American movies and TV commercials. A majority of Americans have heard the term "Tai Chi", and know that it is an exercise that "old" people in China do each morning. It is unfortunate that many will never know its many benefits and its long and colorful history.

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