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Tai chi chuan  is part of the Chinese science of chi-gung.

This comprises: meditation, breathing and exercise. I often describe

it as moving yoga. Its aim is to improve and maintain health and it is also

concerned to improve longevity – an obsession of the Taoists. It is a great

stress-buster and it is known to improve confidence and balance.

Tai chi is a ‘martial art’ though this does not mean that practitioners fight

or even that we ‘spar’. It is entirely soft and based on weight shifting and

turning. With practice it is an effective self-defence system. Many people

use tai chi simply as a form of exercise.


The slow, relaxed, flowing movements make tai chi adaptable to many levels of health and fitness. Through this inclusive approach, it has become regarded the world over as an effective way to strengthen mind, body and spirit for young and old alike.


The sequence of movements are what everyone associates with tai chi. These movements, the form, are the core of our practice. The form moves the energy ‘chi’ through our body; it stretches and tones and strengthens our muscles and ligaments. It improves flexibility and balance. 

We practise the Yang style of tai chi. This one of the oldest styles

established by Yang Lu Chan around 200 years ago. He was shown the

principles of tai chi by the Chen family who practised it as a martial art.


There are several styles of tai chi and inumerable variations of the forms. The one we practice is the 108 move form of Yang Sau Cheung. You can see him doing the form in this old film. You can also see a demonstration of how we do the form by clicking here: Part one Part two Part three


At a more advanced level we practice the tai chi sword form (this is one of many weapons froms) Click the picture to see Jo perform. (But make sure that your sound is turned on. She is the singer in the background, by  the way.)


Tai chi is a way to harmonise mind, body and spirit, rebuild core mental and physical strength and learn a strong centred approach to life. Regular practice creates the balance, strength and robustness to enjoy the moment and relax within what seems to be an ever-more complex and demanding world. Studies have found that even moderate amounts of tai chi practice can, amongst other things, reduce blood pressure, increase bone density, increase strength and range of motion in joints, improve immune function, improve many muscle/joint disorders and aid recovery from injury. At more advanced levels the training can be quite vigorous. As you deepen your experience and broaden your skill base your practice can develop into the self defence aspects of the art.


All images and text: Copyright © 2023 John Roper