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In China it is known as the Chinese Medicare program for its healthful benefits among the elderly. Yet, small children will be found practicing even the most difficult of T'ai Chi Ch'uan forms.
T'ai Chi Ch'uan requires no special clothing or equipment. It is practiced with loose fitting clothes and comfortable shoes. Most T'ai Chi Ch'uan instruction is based on a series of movements called a form. Learning T'ai Chi Ch'uan is learning the form. It takes about ten to twenty minutes to do a T'ai Chi Ch'uan form.
T'ai Chi Ch'uan is known as an ``internal Kung Fu'' because the skill to fight is not derived from physical strength. The exercises are soft and flowing and will prepare the practitioner for martial arts over an extended period. The health benefits can be seen in weeks or months.
T'ai Chi Ch'uan appears, at first, to be a solo sport because the form is done solo. Over time T'ai Chi Ch'uan evolves into a group activity called push hands where one begins pushing with a partner. Higher level forms are performed with two people who move as one unit much like dancing. Push hands activity at times appears like dancing movements.
T'ai Chi Ch'uan is also referred to as meditation in motion. And part of the study will include breathing deeply and slowly. The initial movements will be intentionally done slowly and drawn out to allow the body and mind to slow down and begin to focus with a new awareness.
T'ai Chi Ch'uan exercises and form movements seem easy at first but take time to assimilate. Many of the form movements are subtle and take a few attempts before they become a flowing, soft art. But remember, a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.
directing the movement from the waist
moving and breathing from the center of the body
flowing as a string of pearls (connecting)
awareness, taking in the circle around you
moving in circles, carrying the ball
stepping back to move forward
straightening the spine
absorbing from the five great springs of the body
one person forms
two person forms