The Supreme Ultimate Exercise

-- by Andy Pau

Tai Chi Tu Na is a unique brand of Tai Chi Chuan where movements are in harmony with breathing. It is a sytem of health improvement, exercise, martial art and moving meditation. Tu Na, 'Breathe the old out (exhale) and the new in (inhale)', is the essence of Tai Chi and is designed to relax body and mind. Hence, the movements must correspond with certain breathing rules. This is why Tai Chi exercises should be performed slowly.

The Forms themselves are a set of beautiful slow controlled movements accompanied by rhythmic breathing. The effect is relaxing, and yet, works all joints, muscles, organs, and other areas of the body.

A Taoist monk named Chang San Feng, about nine hundred years ago, started Tai Chi. Only his name was known because no proper historical record was kept except in legendary or fictitious writings. In the early eighteenth century, Tai Chi was practiced by people living in Chen's Valley, about a hundred miles west of Beijing. Gradually it was spread to other parts of China.

Yang style Tai Chi is the most popular Tai Chi exercise in China today. It was begun and handed down by the late Master Yang Cheng Fu. His student, Master Wu Kuei Ching, who was born in Beijing, was a fervent learner of Yang Style Tai Chi. Later, Master Wu went to Shanghai to teach the Yang Style Tai Chi as his profession. My teacher, master Kwei Mao Shi was a student of Master Wu in Shanghai and brought his style of Tai Chi to Canada in the late sixties.

To practice, you begin by relaxing your entire body. Release all tension in neck, shoulders, elbows, back, and knees. Allow all your muscles to relax and all joints to be flexible. Begin with a natural and comfortable position, which will enable you to maintain a stable centre of gravity. Inhale and exhale with even breath and concentrate on the lower abdomen. Relax your facial muscles and allow your mind to be still, quiet and peaceful. Guide and control the body's movements with gentle thought and breathing. Visualize the form as you do it. Then you will achieve perfect union between what you are thinking and what you are doing.

Tai Chi is the integration of movements with mental tranquility. It has been called The Supreme Ultimate Exercise.