The 8 Ways of Tai Chi: A Journey to Mindfulness and Balance
Tai chi, an ancient Chinese martial art, has evolved into a practice that offers a range of health benefits, from improving balance to reducing stress. One of the most helpful ways of understanding tai chi is the method known as the “Eight Ways,” a simplified form of tai chi designed for health and relaxation. This makes it especially useful for tai chi beginners and newer students. Here’s what you should know about the Eight Ways.
The Origin and Purpose
The Eight Ways of Tai Chi Chuan™ were passed down from Professor Cheng Man-Ch’ing, who brought tai chi to the West in the 1960s. He taught them to his senior student, Patrick Watson, who later founded the Tai Chi Foundation and taught them to the organization’s teachers. The Eight Ways are a set of tai chi moves from the tai chi form combined with imagery and visualization. They are suitable for anyone new to tai chi and also offer another road inward for existing students towards the embodiment of tai chi principles.
The Eight Ways focus on five key principles:
- Centering. This involves bringing your awareness to your center, which is located in your lower abdomen and is known as the dantian. It serves as the center of movement and awareness.
- Generating and circulating vital energy. Tai chi recognizes that vital energy is all around us. Through practice, we become aware of the generation and circulation of this energy.
- Softening. Through tai chi, our muscles, thoughts, and emotions soften, allowing us to release tension.
- Stability. By connecting with the earth through our feet, we become stable, balanced, and grounded.
- Uprightness. While grounded, we are also attracted towards the heavens, maintaining an upright body posture.
The Eight Ways practice strengthens the legs, increases balance, and informs activities in our daily life. The Ways can be performed at various levels, making them accessible to a wide range of individuals, from those recovering from illness to advanced tai chi practitioners.
The Eight Ways of Tai Chi offer a holistic approach to well-being, focusing on both physical and mental health. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced practitioner, the Eight Ways can deepen your understanding of tai chi and its application to daily life.
Learn the Eight Ways With the Tai Chi Foundation
The Tai Chi Foundation (TCF) is a not-for-profit educational organization that promotes, funds, and teaches programs that enable people to learn the Eight Ways of tai chi chuan and embody its principles. We now offer the complete series of The Eight Ways of Tai Chi Chuan™ as part of our online course offerings. The series is available on demand, so you can learn on your own schedule.
The Tai Chi Foundation’s mission is to improve health, well-being, and awareness through the study, practice, and teaching of tai chi and qigong by an increasing number of people worldwide. Check out our online course offerings. Sign up for our newsletter for updates on upcoming classes and events.
There are over 200 TCF affiliated instructors teaching tai chi classes in 30 cities around the world. Find a class in your area, become a member, and support TCF in making the world a healthier and more mindful place today.
By Oliver Herzfeld
Tai Chi Foundation 2023