My introduction to studying and practicing taiji was with Marshal Ho’s group in Bronson Park in 1990. A couple of years later I began studying with Shen, Haimin, the eighth disciple of Fu, Zhongwen, in Alhambra. She currently lives in her hometown of Hangzhou, China, an hour outside of Shanghai on the fast train. I visited and studied with her in both 2007 and 2011 and look forward to doing so once again. I have also participated in workshops by Chen, Xiaowang, 19th Generation Chen Style Grandmaster. More recently I have taken private lessons with Master Jonathan Snowiss in Montclair, California. I am grateful to my Teachers and taiji player friends for our years of practice, learning, and enjoyment together.

     Taijiuan (also know as T’ai Chi-Ch’üan)*, the Art of Supreme Polarity, is an ancient health practice that has evolved over several thousand years of research in China. It is based on the Taoist concept of the interaction of complementary opposites symbolized by the two energetic polarities of yin and yang. They are harmonic complements in a continuous and dynamic interaction. Through practice and dedication, taiji promotes the integration of body, mind, and spirit.

     The principle for taiji practice is a serene heart plus a concentrated mind. This allows the nerve center to rest, improving the ability to coordinate the functions of the various organs of the body. Relaxation of the whole body, deep and natural breathing, slow, smooth, arc like actions that are externally soft and internally vigorous emanating from the waist (dantian), and a training method aimed at conveying one’s inner force to the tips of the limbs by mental exertion-all of these result in harmony of the inner and outer body.

     Integrating ones intention and awareness with physical movements and the natural environment develops a sense of harmony from within that moves outwards. Learning to relax through transitions and changes of the postures develops a broadness, openness, and elasticity of mind and spirit that the practitioner can apply to real life situations.

     Research has shown that taiji reduces anxiety, depression, and chronic pain conditions. It boosts the immune system, improves respiratory function, burns calories, dramatically improves balance, provides cardiovascular benefit, and provides powerful stress management tools.

*There are two commonly used systems of romanization for Chinese words. Most westerners were introduced to the name Taijiquan through the Wade-Giles spelling, T’ai-chi ch’üan. This system is older, tends to be more cumbersome and less internally consistent in representing standard Mandarin pronunciation than the newer pinyin system. For this reason, the pinyin system, which was developed by linguists in China, and has been used as the official romanization system in the People’s Republic of China since 1953, will be used in my materials.

Louis Swaim, translator in:
Fu, Zhongwen, Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan