Tai Chi is an exercise that benefits people for all
ages, especially the seniors, who enjoy the soft, flowing movements.
Simplification of Tai Chi Chuan
Tai Chi Chuan first showed its unique advantages over other Chinese martial
arts in the 1953 National Sports Mass Meeting. It has no specific requirements
for space and apparatus. It can be practiced by either men or women and older or
younger practitioners alike.
Before the birth of the modern Tai Chi Chuan, its complexity and its many
different styles prevented it from spreading to the general public. The forms of
traditional Tai Chi Chuan may involve 85 to 100 different movements, which could
take more than 20 minutes to complete. Like Chinese dialects in different
regions, the forms of Tai Chi Chuan also varied significantly.
The most popular and wide-spread styles are: Chen-style Tai Chi Chuan,
Yang-style Tai Chi Chuan, Wu-style Tai Chi Chuan, Wu Yuxiang-style Tai Chi Chuan
and Sun-style Tai Chi Chuan.
To make it easier to be followed by beginners, old Tai Chi master Li Tianyi,
uncle of Li Deyin, along with other masters, developed a simplified and
shortened version of the Tai Chi Chuan in 1956 by dropping repetitious and
difficult movements. It originated from the basic movements of the Yang-style
Tai Chi Chuan. This style had easier movements and actions, which combined
hardness, softness and a natural flow. Practitioners could relax to form
softness, which then transforms into hardness.
The new short form consisted of 24 movements, and this routine could be
performed in four to eight minutes. It was less physically demanding than longer
forms and especially appealed to older beginners who want to improve their
health. Practicing short forms could also lay a sound foundation for learning
longer forms or other styles of Tai Chi Chuan.
Learning to breathe
Tai Chi Chuan is one of the most precious parts in Chinese therapeutic
exercise, for it combines martial arts and qigong (deep breathing exercise).
Deep and regular breathing accompanies the whole process of a Tai Chi Chuan
routine. A participant breathes in through the nose and out through the mouth.
He or she breathes in when pulling back or reaching up, and breathes out when
going forward or reaching down.
The gentle flow between various movements contributes to a state of calmness.
The nervous system can be regulated and strengthened in the process. If
practised properly, every movement of Tai Chi Chuan will be a training of body,
energy and mind, known as jing, qi and shen, the "three treasures" of every