What is Taichi? Taichi is a protocol to keep us in good health. Most people recognize Taichi as a simple exercise but in fact, it has several levels. In addition to exercise to our body, it is a mind-body exercise that can also achieve higher-level ends like improving behaviour and enhancing wisdom etc. The above-mentioned practices involve a series of specific methods for practitioners to realize, learn, enlighten and cultivate. In our words, it is an Internal Elixir Study.
Philosophy of Taichi originally derived from a famous book called “Yijing”. Its advocacy provided fertile ground for the development of Chinese culture and meanwhile it became the root of Taoist culture as well. Academically Taoists think that Taichi contains “Yin” and “Yang”. In the process of practising Internal Elixir, when the balance of “Yin” and “Yang” is achieved, it will bring a new life to the practitioners.
"Dual Cultivation of Soul and Body" is the basic theory for practising Internal Elixir. "Soul" refers to our spirit, i.e. the true or virtual spirit and it concerns our spiritual level; “Body” refers to our limbs, internal organs etc. so it concerns our physical level. They are equally important and over attention to either one will mean unbalanced development of oneself, so both must be cultivated simultaneously to give us the best effect.
Internal Elixir practitioners often say: “I am in charge of my physical health and do not leave it to God”. As long as practitioners practise Internal Elixir continuously, they will be able to restore vitality. In the end, they can rebuild themselves, slow down the aging process and prolong life.
Taichi is a martial art of gentle movements. In fact, it is the only exercise that requires complete relaxation of body and mind. It is a very effective exercise for people of any age as well. Last but not the least, practising Taichi can improve: balanced force, limb coordination, leg strength, muscle flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, the immune system, concentration power, sleeping quality, happiness, self-worth and wisdom etc.
In the official website of Harvard University, there is a special report recommends that Taichi is the perfect exercise for mankind. It has significant effects on promoting health.
By practising the Internal Elixir, meridian tangles within our body will be gradually untied; nutritional elements are freely delivered to any part of the body so that you can become healthy and thus prolong life. The Great Grand Master Zhang Sanfeng taught us that, through a combination of mind-body exercises, we can unblock the Small Circulation of “Qi”. However, before that, “Foundation Building” is a prerequisite for learning Internal Elixir. What is the “Foundation Building”? In short, it is a preliminary process to condense the practitioner’s Pre-Birth “Qi”, i.e. the innate vitality, through cultivation, so that the practitioner can reach the realm of Taichi. Unblocking the Small Circulation of “Qi” is the most basic condition for refinery. After unblocking the Small Circulation of “Qi”, there are different phases in advancing to the track of “Tao”: Firstly, through a deep and profound meditation, the practitioner succeeds to consolidate his vital essence (精). Refinery of this vital essence will transform it into an energy flow (氣). As the process continues, energy will accumulate and until the accumulation is substantial enough, it will give rise to a status of spirit nourishment (神). Since the practitioner already got substantial helpful ingredients throughout the process, further refinery will direct him to the realm of “Nothingness" (虛), in which he will finally approach and align with “Tao” (道).
When practising Taichi, you need to keep your spine upright and completely relaxed. During the exercise, the force driving the motion of your limbs is derived from your waist. This motion is similar to the swinging of a silk scarf. As the rhythm starts, it naturally ripples from the centre to the end through its momentum. Therefore, it will save your valuable energy, but achieve the purpose of a healthy exercise. Since practising Taichi will correct our abnormal back posture, accompanied by the mildest frictions to the organs concerned, it helps to activate our recovery mechanism and amend the weaknesses inside the organs automatically. Furthermore, it is helpful to our “Governing Vessel”. “Governing Vessel” includes the spine, spinal cord, blood, qi, bone, autonomic nervous system, all of which are controlling the functions of the human body. According to a number of authoritative medical research papers, regular practice of Taichi can greatly improve immunity, activate self-healing power, and effectively improve and maintain physical and mental health. These papers endorse the merits of practising Taichi from various scientific points of view.
According to historical relics collected by the Wudang Mountain Museum, Great Grand Master Zhang was a real person. He studied and refined in Wudang Mountain in the 14th century around late Yuan Dynasty and early Ming Dynasty, and was the founder of Wudang martial arts. He combined martial arts with Taoist Internal Elixir Meditation to become an authentic Wudang Taichi. Great Grand Master Zhang was not restrained by any religions or different schools of advocation, and he did not advocate the pursuit of martial arts craftsmanship but emphasized on the code of benevolent behaviour, health improvement and prolonging life.
More than 600 years ago, the emperor of Ming Dynasty instructed the building of monasteries in Wudang Mountain with the same high-level design and construction specification as that of the Imperial Palace in the capital Beijing. This reflected a prominent position of the monasteries which also became one of the symbols of Chinese cultural heritage thereafter. Wudang Mountain Taoism is one of the most important schools of Taoism in China.
Wudang Mountain is the birthplace of Wudang martial arts where is well known for its internal martial arts. Wudang martial arts is publicly identified as it has been included in the China's national intangible cultural heritage directory to highlight its prominent status.
Mr. Jin Yong's novels show his understanding and respect to Taoist thought and Wudang culture. He has deep feelings for Wudang Mountain. In his 15 martial arts novels, 5 of them mentioned Wudang martial arts.
2008 Mr. Jin Yong inscribed the plaque for Wudang Academy
Wudang Taichi has a moderate amount of exercise, flexible and variable moves, and requires absolute relaxation of body and mind. In this way, hormone secretion can be normalized, the immune system can be strengthened, and diseases will be effectively prevented.
Although Taichi movements are slow, the rhythmic contraction and relaxation of the muscles induce the capillaries to dilate, which enables the blood to flow smoothly, thereby reducing heart load, lessening cardiovascular obstruction, and has a healthy effect on the human body, especially to the heart.
Movements of most sports are simple, symmetrical and repetitive. Wudang Taichi requires a high level of flexibility and coordination of limbs. The movements are slow but highly balanced so that it requires a lot of mental activity for controlling various muscles. Hence, it strengthens blood circulation in the brain and therefore delays brain degeneration.
When practising Wudang Taichi, the body and mind need to be fully relaxed and focus on the gentle and continuous movements. It will bring tranquillity to the mind so that it will stimulate the body to secrete a variety of hormones that are good for the body and mind by activating brain cells, and as a result to achieve the effect of prolonging life.
Long-term excessive stress can lead to hormonal imbalance, serotonin secretion disorders, and emotional distress. By practising Wudang Taichi, you can easily learn to relax your body and mind, improve your mood, and expand your social life.
When practising Taichi, it is necessary to relax your back and rotate it from side to side, thereby increasing the flexibility of your spine and intervertebral discs, reducing the chance of impingement on the spinal nerves, and maintaining the proper curvature of your spine.
During the practice of Taichi, the force driving the movement of your limbs derived from your waist and it requires many muscles to contract at the same time. It has a significant effect on improving metabolism, and therefore it will consume excessive fat, accelerate visceral blood circulation, effectively awaken stem cells, help to balance hormones and achieve the effects of rejuvenation and body shaping.
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