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Why move slowly in Tai Chi Chuan? Is it really a martial art?

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The reason why the form in Tai Chi Chuan is performed slowly, is because one of the main principles of the martial art is being light and sensitive. Regardless of the style, the form is performed slowly to facilitate the loosening of the tendons, ligaments and sinews. The joints need to be agile and supple, now this is not an easy task as one learns that they are holding tension in their body.

Now its harder to achieve being light and sensitive when you move fast, the slow form allows you to re-align your body structure. Once this becomes second nature, then the structure is maintained when moving fast, because at the end of the day fights are not slow.

Now the principles of re-aligning and loosening or achieving this agility or suppleness is what has health benefits. In addition, it is the harmony of the body and mind that also make Tai Chi Chuan a lethal martial art.

Like most things, a select few, know the true way of this martial art as an effective form of combat and even in the age of information, a few are willing to guide their students on this martial art’s true functions. Also to add, a few people are willing to go through the arduous training, to achieve this high level of skill.

The movements are generated when one “sinks the chi” and few people know what that means. The sinking refers to releasing the tension that is held by the body. Unbeknownst to us is that we hold up tension, we do this by having our chest’s out for example. In Tai Chi Chuan principles one must “sink the chest” this means slightly drop the sternum, allowing the breath to sink below the navel. This involves other adjustments same as you would do in Zhan Zhuang.

By allowing the sinking motions of all the joints in the body to the ground, there is a reactionary force coming up. The thrust from the ground that spirals up as the tension that is released spirals down. Yin and Yang working together and thus Taiji.

The post was written by Narcisse Sadi, a qualified 1st Duan Instructor in Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan (Cheng Man Ching lineage) and Health Qi Gong. He is a Tudi (officially recognised student) of Dr Jeff Lan (residing in Cape Town) who runs the Kim Loong Kwoon-

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