The Practice of Tai Chi Chuan: Health, Meditation & Martial Art

By S.A. Abraham

In Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan, we learn that “Your mind controls your body [movements, actions, muscles], and in turn, you control your mind [thoughts, intentions, decisions].”

Tai chi chuan is an exercise discipline and an internal Chinese martial art, practiced for its health benefits, its meditative qualities, and for its defence training.

The 3 main aspects of tai chi chuan (Health, Meditation & Martial Art) enable the regular practitioner to gain balance and control over both the body and the mind so that they function and work in balance and harmony.

Having practiced Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan for 8 years now with dedicated and warm instructors who have become like a second family to me, I have (although I should attend more classes and practice more) benefited greatly from my practice; and from the instruction, guidance and the encouragement of the Academy’s many instructors.

These men and women are Tournament winning instructors who have devotedly practiced Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan for more than 15, 20, and 30 years.

From personal experience, I can relate that I have seen much progress and great benefits from my practice of tai chi chuan, (which similar to yoga), helps to maintain flexibility through the joints, to sharpen and focus the mind; to align the spine, to strengthen bones and muscles, to boost circulation, to fortify the immune system, and to regulate breathing.

With regular practice, the calmness cultivated by the meditative aspect of tai chi chuan relieves the physical effects of stress on the body and mind, thereby helping to maintain overall balance and harmony.

According to Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan by Master Wu Kung Cho, (aka The Gold Book);

-   “Tai Chi Chuan not only prevents disease, but it is an effective treatment for existing illness. Preventing disease and prolonging life, [it] nourishes one’s vitality…
-   [It] is a Taoist practice emphasizing cultivation of martial ethics…Never harbour violent intentions that could cause the opponent [harm]…The methodology (of Push Hands application) follows the Tai Chi principle of movement and stillness…
-   Applications use the principles of psychology and physics. Softness overcomes hardness…

It is therefore written in the classic Taoist philosophy of the Tao Te Ching, (written over 2,500 years ago by Lao Tzu) that; "The soft and the pliable will defeat the hard and strong."

Master Wu Kung Cho continues his instructions inWu Style Tai Chi Chuan (published by The International Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan Federation);

-   During contact with your opponent, seize the opportunity and defeat the opponent by borrowing his force. [Merely change the direction of his force. The opponent defeats himself, toppled by his own force.] This is to out-wit, (not out-muscle/force) the opponent.”
-   “…When fire is abundant, it will overcome water, when water is abundant, it will overcome fire…Always remember that arrogance brings loss, humility invites gain.”
-   “By practicing and refining, you will gradually become more and more subtle, eventually reaching sublime levels and spiritual clarity…You will attain the ultimate stage of courageousness and fearlessness.”  

At the same time, various studies and systematic reviews of data on the effects of practicing tai chi chuan have found that regular practice can significantly increase psychological well-being by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, and can also enhance good moods.

Long term practice of tai chi chuan helps to calm the emotions and to improve overall balance and health in mind, body and spirit. Improved physical balance, stability and flexibility also reduce the risk of slips and falls on icy ground in winter, on stairs, and on uneven ground (generally for everyone and particularly for the elderly).

From The Gold Book, (and from other authorities on the philosophy and practice of tai chi chuan), we learn that long term practice can enhance health by strengthening the functioning of our internal organs, by improving circulation, by boosting our immune system, and with the benefits of chi-kung (qigong) breathing exercises.

Chi-Kung which refers to co-ordinated movement breathing exercises, and also described as “life-energy cultivation methods”, are practiced mainly for healing and meditation.

The regular practice of tai chi chuan therefore improves health, prevents disease, cultivates healing energy, improves combat skills, calms the emotions, focuses and develops the mind. Ultimately, “At the highest level, it aims to cultivate a more moderate and peaceful way of being.” 



- Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan  by Master Wu Kung Cho, (aka The Gold Book). Text 1980, Published 2006, Canada by The International Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan Federation.
- Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu.


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