Tai Chi and Taoism
The philosophy of Tai Chi Ch’uan is based upon Taoist (Daoist) philosophy. Although movements and directions relate to the Five Element Theory it is the Tai Chi symbol of balance change and relationship that best explains Tai Chi Ch’uan.
Taoism looks at life and the environmental effects to study what aids longevity of all living things and how the human organism can benefit from certain practices to help one maintain the proper balance of energy for a healthier life.
Taoism sees rigidity or resistance as a trait that can only lead to poor health and a shorter life. An example is the strong oak that can easily be broken during fierce storms as it tries to resist the great force that comes upon it. This opposed to a young sapling that bends with the forces of nature, not resisting but yielding therefore surviving without damage. Taoism observes water and sees that although it is soft and flowing it can still wear down even the hard rock until it becomes a grain of sand. The water never changes. We also have to learn to yield and flow with life, never wearing down, but still be able to yield and flow through everyday problems and emotions. Water always seeks balance, as does every living thing.
The Tai Chi form is a physical practice of yielding and flowing; a physical practice of being soft on the outside but strong internally.
Balance is depicted by the Tai Chi Symbol, the picture of Yin and Yang and how they relate to each other to be one. The Tai Chi Symbol depicts a constant change while always maintaining a balance. The symbol shows the decrease and increase of opposing energies and how these energies blend to be one and maintain the necessary balance of nature. There is always a little Yin within Yang and a little Yang within Yin to maintain the important connection between both energies although they are opposing.
Environmentally there may develop earthquakes, hurricanes and floods. This is merely nature’s way of returning to a balance.
In the human energy system imbalance can bring on disease and illness, even death. Because of technology there is plenty of damage to nature as well as damage to ourselves. Faster lifestyles, emotional trauma, poor eating habits, and the habit of resistance do plenty of damage to our energy and physical system.
Tai Chi Ch’uan was created with a deep understanding of the importance of balance. The Form mirrors the important aspects of Taoism. Tai Chi principles that are elements of Taoist philosophy include: yielding, softness, centerdness, slowness, balance, suppleness and rootedness. All aspects of the Tai Chi form include these principles. Just look to Yang's 10 important points for proper Tai Chi performance. Following these principles aids the practitioner of Tai Chi to become relaxed, natural and balanced. Just by practicing Tai Chi regularly ones lifestyle almost magically changes for the better.