The traditional Chinese art of Tai Chi is a system of movements and breathing techniques used to promote physical health and mental well-being. The movements take on many variations in daily practice throughout China as a form of exercise and active meditation. Tai Chi practitioners often use objects, such as fans or swords, to help them concentrate and develop balance. This is a pretty common occurrence for us here in China – both old folks and young can be seen in park, performing these concentrated moves.
The images in this post provide a good glimpse at the practice of Tai Chi. The Tai Chi sword dance requires deep concentration to focus on each movement, so participants usually take a moment to settle their breathing and align their posture before beginning the dance. Following the subtle flow and peaceful sounds of the music, they move their body slowly, remaining calm while tensing and releasing their muscles to promote circulation and flexibility. The music is usually a traditional piece of tranquil Chinese instrumental music. The tune we heard in the parks while we watched this Tai Chi dance painted the picture of a beautiful evening night, with people quietly sitting in a boat enjoying the moon, the smell of flowers, and the peaceful sounds of night on the water. Watching Tai Chi is very calming and the dancers reflect this environment.