This is something that just a few martial arts do. Tai chi is likewise based on water's principles of flowing following the path of least resistance. I discuss four phases of studying Tai Chi as a combat art in my book, The Power of Internal Martial Arts and Chi: Combat Secrets of Tai Chi, Bagua, and Hsing-i. They are: understanding, practice, analysis, and application.
In the first stage, you must understand that Tai Chi isn't just gentle exercise but it has serious purpose and can be used in self-defense. Only then will you be able to take it out of the gym and into real life situations where it can be effective.
The second stage is dedicated to practicing Tai Chi daily. This doesn't mean doing heavy sets of exercises but rather focusing on form and quality over quantity. Even though fighting is tai chi's main use, it is important to keep practicing it in order to maintain your skills and not get bored with the routine.
The third stage is devoted to analyzing real fights vs. rehearsed moves in order to find effective strategies that match the reality of crime scenes. This means looking at who is likely to attack you, how they might try to catch you off guard, what their strengths and weaknesses are, etc. Only after identifying potential threats could you decide how to deal with them during an actual encounter.
The last stage is about applying what you have learned.
Tai chi is the most effective martial technique, but how to employ it in combat is a different story. Slow tai chi exercise in the slow form is extremely helpful for increasing health and strength. Many studies have proven that these training approaches are quite beneficial in developing a strong body and mind.
However, in real life situations, you won't have time to practice such long forms. Even if you do, it's not recommended to use your energy at a high level during fights since it decreases over time. Instead, focus on simple movements that would allow you to react quickly to any attack.
The most common way of using tai chi in combat is as a distraction tool. When someone tries to hit you with a weapon, drop down and grab their arm or leg, then get up and walk away. If they try to hit you again, simply block their move and say "wo jin" (no force). They will probably stop trying to hurt you then.
There have been cases when people have used certain tai chi techniques as offensive weapons by deliberately dropping their hands to strike their enemies. However, this is usually not necessary; even without using your hands, you can still distract and injure your opponents with enough simple moves.
While slow motions are characteristic in tai chi, several styles (including the three most popular: Yang, Wu, and Chen) have additional, faster-paced forms. Some traditional schools teach tuishou ("pushing hands") pair exercises and martial applications of various postures (taolu).
The first form that most students learn is called "dajia" (or "alleycat"). This is a generic term for any one of the eight basic forms of tai chi, although it usually refers to the first one taught. The second form that many schools teach is called "xiangju" (or "dragon claw"). This form is similar to dajia but includes some special moves such as swinging arms back and forth like a pendulum or slapping the floor with palms facing up in front of you.
Some schools also teach meng (or "internal skill") and hua (or "external skill") versions of each form. Meng means performing all of the movements without touching the ground while hua means using your body weight to perform some of the movements.
These forms are practiced to sharpen awareness and focus the mind as well as build strength and flexibility. Students learn proper breathing techniques and how to use them to their advantage during combat situations or even just when they feel threatened.
First and foremost, Tai Chi Chuan is a martial art intended for self-defense. Yoga isn't one of them. Chi Kung is included into Tai Chi Chuan, although it is not Tai Chi Chuan. Chi Kung, like Yoga, is a set of motions or exercises undertaken for health purposes. Chi Kung classes, on the other hand, need less flexibility because they are taught standing up.
The ancient Chinese meditative martial art is performed both with and without weapons. It is a "soft martial art," as opposed to karate, which has hardness and breaking tests. Tai Chi forms and stances are performed in flowing motions with breathing exercises.
Tai chi, which was originally designed for self-defense in ancient China, has evolved into an elegant form of exercise that is today utilized for stress reduction and to aid with a range of other health concerns. There are several styles of Tai chi. Each style places a different focus on certain tai chi ideas and approaches. But they all share similar principles regarding body movement, alignment, and psychology.
The earliest evidence of Tai chi dates back to the early 8th century AD when it was included in an encyclopedia of military tactics called "Sun Tzu's Art of War." It is from here that we get our name for this method of martial arts - taijiquan - which means supreme art of war.
In the years that followed, Tai chi began to be used by individual warriors as well as teams of soldiers. It was also used by officials who wanted to be able to defend themselves if needed while performing their duties. As time passed, Tai chi became popular among people not involved in fighting activities such as artists, performers, and teachers. This is because it was able to improve one's balance, muscle strength, and flexibility.
At its core, Tai chi is based on concepts of harmony and unity between yourself and your environment. The movements are designed to be slow and smooth without any sudden stops or jumps. This helps the practitioner maintain his or her center of gravity while focusing on physical and mental awareness.