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What is Tai Chi?

T’ai Chi Ch’uan (also written “taiji” or “taijiquan”) means “supreme ultimate boxing or fist.” It is an ancient Chinese exercise that was developed more than 700 years ago by Chinese martial artists. 

Tai Chi can be practiced by people of all ages and most physical conditions. It strengthens the mind and body with minimal stress to the joints. It also improves body awareness, postural alignment, coordination, strength, and flexibility. Regular Tai Chi practice helps develop healthy breathing patterns and relaxation skills. It can also lower blood pressure and promotes emotional well-being.

Tai Chi originated in China around the 13th century AD. Its founder, Chang San Feng, inspired by a graceful crane and supple coiling snake in battle, devised a system of self-defense based not on brute force, but on the power of flow and returning energy. In the mid-1800s, Master Yan Lu Shan became the first outsider to learn Tai Chi and taught this advanced self-defense method to his men. Tai Chi soon became popular in martial arts circles and branched into 3 main styles, each named after its founder: Yang, Chen, and Wu.


In the 1930s Master Yang Cheng Fu's student, Cheng Man Ch'ing, shortened and simplified the form to make it accessible as a health exercise. Around the late ‘60s, Grand Master Cheng Man Ch’ing moved to New York and was one of the first to teach Tai Chi openly to non-Chinese students. Since then, Masters Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo and William C. C. Chen and other students of Cheng Man Ch’ing have taught Tai Chi to thousands of people across the US and Europe, making this version of Yang Style Tai Chi one of the most popular forms worldwide. Tricia Yu, who created the Tai Chi Fundamentals® Program, is a Cheng Man Ch’ing lineage Yang Style instructor certified by both Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo and William C.C. Chen, with whom she studied for decades. Her program has been taught to several people throughout America.

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