Tai Chi Chuan: the art of movement

Abstract:Today’s man no longer seems to know how to move, he is no longer aware of his movement. The quality of listening and that of hearing is also weakening. In this context, Tai Chi Chuan can offer the opportunity to get back in touch with the “real” Body. Its purpose is to promote harmony, knowledge of the limits and potential of one’s body to achieve a state of well-being and health. We generally work in groups, in contact with ourselves and with others. There are no age limits or contraindications.

Keywords:tai-chi, wellness, movement

“He who can unite the outside with the inside can also realize the integral unity of his being” (Yang Cheng Fu).

This statement contains the secret of an ancient discipline of the body, born in China and with martial origins, which has been able to transform its practice and identity into a search for health and awareness.

In Tai Chi Chuan, some fundamental elements of Chinese thought and culture are harmoniously manifested: the value of the body as a unit, the importance of movement and the relationship with nature. It should also be remembered the close link of Tai Chi with Taoist philosophy, especially in reference to the most characteristic and significant aspect of this philosophy: “the integration of opposites”, symbolized by the relationship of the two polarities or energies: Yin and Yang.

It was Yang Cheng Fu (1883-1936), descendant of Yang Lu Chan (founder of a dynasty of Grand Masters and founder of the most famous and accredited style in the world: the “Yang Style”) to intuit the importance and benefits of the discipline in a context other than martial. Around 1930, Cheng Fu developed and codified a sequence of moving positions, “Da Jia” (in English “Great Concatenation”), commonly called “Form” or “Long Form – 108 Movements”. The aim was to make Tai Chi Chuan accessible to people of all ages.

The Tai Chi Form has become, therefore, a psycho-physical exercise characterized by a sequence of slow, harmonious, circular movements. The positions a movement are clear and simple to perform. The structure has been worked out in such a way as to keep the body rooted in gravity, centered, well aligned along the vertical axis, balanced. There is nothing abrupt, exaggerated or rigid.We do not oppose something or someone, even if the movements reproduce the actions of the martial art (parry, repel, hit with a fist, hit with a kick) but we seek the overcoming of tension. Its practice allows you to balance internal energies, to improve alignment and posture, to promote mind-body integration. Its purpose is to promote harmony, knowledge of the limits and potential of one’s body to achieve a state of well-being and health, refine and enrich the quality of one’s movement. It can improve blood circulation, heart rhythm and the functioning of the whole body (including metabolism).

The slow, continuous and coordinated movement helps to loosen the joints and restore muscle tone. When performing the movements of the “Form” in a sequence of perfect unity similar to a dance, the body is like a small universe in continuous movement on itself and in space, with its own rhythm and coordination. In this way a conscious unity of one’s totality is achieved in continuous relationship with the inside and the outside. This “Warrior Dance” or “Moving Meditation” is commonly performed in silence. It is the Body that speaks. Concentration is constant.

We generally work in groups, in contact with ourselves and with others. There are no age limits or contraindications whatsoever. It is aimed at Young and Elderly alike.

Can the use and learning of the Form – Tai Chi, born in a culture and in a social context very different from the Western one and in an era very distant from ours, be current and constitute a stimulus for today’s man? In what area can it affect? How so?

Progress has improved the quality of life but at the same time has made the management of space and time increasingly hectic. In this frenzy, today’s swirling rhythms involve and, at times, upset in such a way as to alter and change the space/time relationship. Those who risk paying the consequences are the body that becomes more and more virtual and less and less real.

Today’s man no longer seems to know how to move or rather no longer has awareness of his movement. He does not measure the actions he performs starting from his real possibilities and his limits (understood as freedom and not as coercion), but tends to trespass into an “activity” motivated by pushes and stimuli, often, much greater than him, which are the fruit more of his mind than of his body. It acts, often and willingly, mechanically, devoid of naturalness, spontaneity and with stereotyped behaviors. It seems to be immersed in a daily and constant contact with a space and a time different from the present one. A virtual reality, this, that is moving him away from himself and that can generate the loss of the sense of the here and now, of the sense of existence (being in time and in the current reality).

Modern man no longer seems to be master of his own action. He is no longer able to stop. The quality of listening and that of hearing is also weakening. More than expressing a free and spontaneous movement, he seems to be a prisoner of his body in his body.

In this context, Tai Chi Chuan can offer the opportunity and constitute a valid opportunity to reconnect and get back in touch with the “real” Body. However, the approach to this learning must also include a broader and more general work on the movement and the laws that govern it. A deep and introspective study. A research that addresses all those elements and aspects of the Body and the Body that moves. A work that opens the doors to the functionality of actions and is a field of knowledge and awareness. It must leverage listening and attention to develop the ability to feel and feel, indispensable prerequisites for achieving change.

A body that learns to take the step as long as the leg, proceeding gradually and slowly. A body capable of slowing down its movement until it stops. To be centered, stable, well connected to the earth. To unite within oneself and free to orient oneself and direct oneself to one’s outside. Aware of existing. In this way thought and action integrate and complement each other within real and no longer virtual boundaries.

A learning centered on the study of movement therefore makes the body aware of being and being in space, allowing it to take note of its physicality and transform it into “Presence”. In this way the activity is carried out in respect of the body and its motor potential, stimulates attention and listening, leverages muscle relaxation and freedom of the joints. It relates to a deep feeling. It allows you to bring out your originality also through the development of creativity. All this to establish a continuously renewed motor relationship with space and achieve effective and functional motor skills.

A training course, in this sense, deals with issues such as statics and dynamics, mobility and immobility, the exploration of free and codified movement, the quality of one’s movement. This requires a methodology essentially divided into two phases. A “propaedeutic” phase, in which the knowledge and study of the fundamental laws that govern movement and space (the axis, weight, center, relationship with gravity, center-limb coordination, orientation in space, body scheme, etc.) is realized. A phase of learning the Form is Tai Chi-108 Movements, through the study of the three Parts (Earth, Man, Sky) and the repeated and constant execution of movement sequences, characterized by the alternative and complementary actions of Yin and Yang.

To conclude, a pedagogy of movement that develops according to the principles of a real discipline of the body, integrating Eastern culture and Western culture, can represent an alternative way to achieve and facilitate the return to the Body.

Source: Aspic


Blandine Calais-Germain,Anatomia del movimento, Vol. 1, ed. L’Arciere.

Blandine Calais-Germain e Anure Lamotte,Anatomia del movimento, Vol. 2, ed. L’Arciere.

Catherine Despeux,Tai ji quan: arte marziale tecnica di lunga vita, ed. Mediterranee.

Jacques Dropsy,Vivere nel proprio corpo. Espressione corporea e rapporti umani, Ottaviano.

Moshe Feldenkrais,Conoscersi attraverso il movimento, Celuc: Milano.

Roger Garaudy (1985),Danzare la vita, Cittadella: Assisi.

Jou Tsung Hwa,Il tao del tai chi chuan, ed. Ubaldini.

James Kou,Tai chi chuan, Luni editrice.

Da Liu,Tai chi chuan e meditazione, ed. Ubaldini.

Grant Muradoff,Tai chi chuan disciplina del movimento per la ricerca del “sé”, ed. Mediterranee, voll. 1, 2, 3.

Alba G.A. Naccari,Persona e movimento. Per una pedagogia dell’incarnazione, Armando editore.

Condividi questo articolo