Translated into English, tai chi roughly translates as: “supreme boxing,” “the root of all motion,” and “optimal fist fighting.” It is considered a martial art, but unlike the most combative styles, tai chi is based on fluidity and circular movements. Tai chi masters say that this gentle dance develops the flexibility of a child, the strength of a lumberjack and, eventually, the wisdom of a sage.
Tai chi embodies the Chinese idea that all life is based on life energy, or qi. Many tai chi forms incorporate movement of the arms as though one is gently holding a big beach ball of chi. Based on the Chinese world view, tai chi divides qi into two equal, opposite and complementary parts, yin and yang. Tai chi incorporates the yin-yang unity of opposites in many ways, for example, during tai chi routines, the weight shifts repeatedly from one leg to the other and the arms move in opposite, yet complementary directions.