Home About Tai Chi

What is Tai Chi

1. What is Tai Ji?


First of all Tai Ji is just a word for a very old idea, and actually it is very simple. The idea states the reality of all that exists in the universe as we can know and experience it. Tai Ji is the word the Chinese have given to explain that all things must and can only, exist with a complement... Nothing is a singularity.

To explain this we talk about POSITIVE/NEGATIVE, IN/OUT, UP/DOWN, RIGHT/WRONG, HOT/COLD and so on. But a more graphic example could be something as simple as writing the number 2 on a piece of paper, and darkening it in.
It seems simple enough to write the number, but how many of us realize that by drawing the number we also established its complement? If we now "cut out" the darkened number 2 from the piece of paper and highlight the paper that remains, it becomes immediately obvious that when we drew the number on the paper, we created a "foreground/background" complement.

The word Tai Ji is the phrase used to encompass this reality of our universe. A tree cannot fall, without the ground to catch it. A bird cannot fly without the air to hold it. The human body cannot move without the human spirit to animate it. This is the truth of our universe. We live an existence in duality, we live with both this and that.

2. How do the 5 Elements relate to Tai Ji?


The 5 Element symbol system is a very compressed graphic display of immense understanding. As stated above, the universe as we can know it, is the product of complementary duality. Over millennia of observation, the Chinese became aware that the interaction of the pairs of complements followed definite patterns.

The complements for the most part "APPEARED" as opposites, I.E. YES/NO, PLEASURE/PAIN, LOVE/HATE. Yet they also realized that the word opposite contained the idea that the two parts were in conflict with each other, and this definitely was not the case. But the "appearance" of opposition disguised the true nature of the relationship between the two parts. It seems they concluded that this was a "SIGN" of intelligence.

Another pattern is that between two complements that appear as opposites, there is always a middle. This was a very keen observation, because it acknowledged that the middle always exists even as the two parts wax and wane in relation to one another. Modern science has reached the same conclusion. We have observed that when one of a bonded pair of particles becomes inflated in size, the other particle complements its mate by becoming smaller and denser. This is how the middle (OR BALANCE POINT) is always maintained. Again, very intelligent.

It was probably from their observations of "THE MIDDLE" that the Chinese realized they were watching a method of operation... not merely a law. I say this because their observations came from nature. Whereas laws, like instincts, are very rigid, methods such as balance are very flexible and are exhibited across the board in both the plant and animal kingdoms. With this awareness, they set about to observe how things, with their complements, came into creation. This is what the 5 Elements system is. It is an explanation of how the universe was created through Tai Ji.

And it is the method to employ in order to create phenomena in harmony (OR BALANCE) with the universe. The observations here are again quite keen, because what they focused on was the relationships between things that appeared in opposition, and out of this they founded a system of understanding that explained the world.




Everything in Tai Ji Chuan depends on NEGATIVE/POSITIVE. But NEGATIVE/POSITIVE of what? This is what is so hard to explain. In Tai Ji Chuan the objective of our practice is learning to coordinate the body so that, at will, one can use NEGATIVE/POSITIVE movement to defeat a stronger opponent.

This is accomplished by first relaxing the body (POSITIVE) and the mind (NEGATIVE). Then by paying attention to the movement of the breath (POSITIVE) with the mind (NEGATIVE). Next, coordinating the breath (NEGATIVE) with the movement of the body parts (POSITIVE). Followed by linking (NEGATIVE) the various movements (POSITIVE) together. Once this is done. Each movement (POSITIVE) must obtain fullness (NEGATIVE) by looking for the circles. When you have fullness (POSITIVE) that can be observed, there is centerline (NEGATIVE).

Now begins the work in Tai JI Chuan. When there is centerline (NEGATIVE) there is circumference (POSITIVE) PENG. With circumference PENG (POSITIVE) there is stabilization (NEGATIVE). Having stabilization (POSITIVE), one can now push off the ground or borrow the power of the earth (NEGATIVE). When you push of the ground (POSITIVE) and maintain centerline (NEGATIVE) you create spiral power. The presence of spiral power (NEGATIVE) creates STICKINESS/GIN YIN JING (POSITIVE). This stickiness (POSITIVE) allows you to link (NEGATIVE) with the opponent.

The self defense aspect of tai Ji Chuan is in operation at this point. From linking (POSITIVE) with the opponent one can TIN JING/LISTEN (NEGATIVE). Careful listening (NEGATIVE) allows us to follow (POSITIVE) the other's intention. The following (POSITIVE) allows his movement to be dissolved (NEGATIVE). With the movement dissolved (POSITIVE), the NA/LOCK (NEGATIVE) of the opponents Ji is applied. Having locked (POSITIVE) the body, one now applies CHOI/TILTED (NEGATIVE) and destroys his centerline. With the opponent's centerline destroyed and the body tilted (NEGATIVE), one can FA (POSITIVE), apply force.

This is how the principle of NEGATIVE/POSITIVE manifests itself in TAI JI CHUAN.