Chinese Culture: Tai Chi 太极拳
One should not stay still too long, nor should one exhaust oneself by trying to perform impossible tasks. One should learn how to exercise from nature by observing the fact that flowing water never stagnates and a busy door with active hinges never rusts or rots. Why? Because they exercise themselves perpetually and are almost always moving. (Sun Simiao [Sun Ssu-mo] AD 581-682)
Thousands of mostly older people begin their day with a session of taichi (taijiquan) or qigong (exercise to channel qi or energy) in Beijing's parks and other open spaces.
taijiquan - which can translate as "boundless fist" or "supreme ultimate fist" is a soft-style martial art, with obscure historical roots, which became more formalized and widely practicised in 19th century China.
The poses in taichi would seem to be based on the natural and graceful movements of animals and birds.
The practice of this martial art aims to promote the circulation of "chi" or energy around the body, improve concentration, balance and calm the mind for meditation and reflection.
As a means of defence, taichi emphasizes re-directing violent blows aimed at the practitioner and thus tiring and finally subduing the opponent.
Where to practice Tai-chi in Beijing
Various Chinese tour companies also offer a tai chi morning workout in one of Beijing's parks where visitors can learn some of the basic moves.