Minggu, 30 November 2008

The Chinese characters for Tai Chi Chuan can be translated as the 'Supreme Ultimate Force'. The notion of 'supreme ultimate' is often associated with the Chinese concept of yin-yang, the notion that one can see a dynamic duality (male/female, active/passive, dark/light, forceful/yielding, etc.) in all things. 'Force' (or, more literally, 'fist') can be thought of here as the means or way of achieving this ying-yang, or 'supreme-ultimate' discipline.

Tai Chi, as it is practiced in the west today, can perhaps best be thought of as a moving form of yoga and meditation combined. There are a number of so- called forms (sometimes also called 'sets') which consist of a sequence of movements. Many of these movements are originally derived from the martial arts (and perhaps even more ancestrally than that, from the natural movements of animals and birds) although the way they are performed in Tai Chi is slowly, softly and gracefully with smooth and even transitions between them.
For many practicioners the focus in doing them is not, first and foremost, martial, but as a meditative exercise for the body. For others the combat aspects of Tai Chi are of considerable interest. In Chinese philosophy and medicine there exists the concept of 'chi', a vital force that animates the body. One of the avowed aims of Tai Chi is to foster the circulation of this 'chi' within the body, the belief being that by doing so the health and vitality of the person are enhanced. This 'chi' circulates in patterns that are close related to the nervous and vascular system and thus the notion is closely connected with that of the practice of acupuncture and other oriental healing arts.
Another aim of Tai Chi is to foster a calm and tranquil mind, focused on the precise execution of these exercises. Learning to do them correctly provides a practical avenue for learning about such things as balance, alignment, fine-scale motor control, rhythm of movement, the genesis of movement from the body's vital center, and so on. Thus the practice of Tai Chi can in some measure contribute to being able to better stand, walk, move, run, etc. in other spheres of life as well. Many practitioners notice benefits in terms of correcting poor postural, alignment or movement patterns which can contribute to tension or injury. Furthermore the meditative nature of the exercises is calming and relaxing in and of itself.
Because the Tai Chi movements have their origins in the martial arts, practicing them does have some martial applications. In a two-person exercise called 'push-hands' Tai Chi principles are developed in terms of being sensitive to and responsive of another person's 'chi' or vital energy. It is also an opportunity to employ some of the martial aspects of Tai Chi in a kind of slow-tempo combat. Long-time practitioners of Tai Chi who are so-inclined can become very adept at martial arts. The emphasis in Tai Chi is on being able to channel potentially destructive energy (in the form of a kick or a punch) away from one in a manner that will dissipate the energy or send it in a direction where it is no longer a danger.
The practical exercises of Tai Chi are also situated in a wider philosophical context of Taoism. This is a reflective, mystical Chinese tradition first associated with the scholar and mystic Lao Tsu, an older contemporary of Confucius. He wrote and taught in the province of Honan in the 6th century B.C. and authored the seminal work of Taoism, the Tao Te Ching. As a philosophy, Taoism has many elements but fundamentally it espouses a calm, reflective and mystic view of the world steeped in the beauty and tranquillity of nature.
Tai Chi also has, particularly amongst eastern practitioners, a long connection with the I Ching a Chinese system of divination. There are associations between the 8 basic I Ching trigrams plus the five elements of Chinese alchemy (metal, wood, fire, water and earth) with the thirteen basic postures of Tai Chi created by Chang San-feng. There are also other associations with the full 64 trigrams of the I Ching and other movements in the Tai Chi form.

Tai chi: Improved stress reduction, balance, agility for all
The ancient art of tai chi uses gentle flowing movements to reduce the stress of today's busy lifestyles and improve health. Find out how to get started.
The graceful images of people gliding through dance-like poses as they practice tai chi (TIE-chee) are compelling. Simply watching them is relaxing. Tai chi, in fact, is often described as "meditation in motion" because it promotes serenity through gentle movements — connecting the mind and body.
Originally developed in China as a form of self-defense, tai chi is a graceful form of exercise that has existed for some 2,000 years. Practiced regularly, tai chi can help you reduce stress and enjoy other health benefits.
Understanding tai chi

Tai chi movements
Tai chi, sometimes called tai chi chuan, is a noncompetitive, self-paced system of gentle physical exercise and stretching. To do tai chi, you perform a series of postures or movements in a slow, graceful manner. Each posture flows into the next without pausing.
Anyone, regardless of age or physical ability, can practice tai chi. It doesn't take physical prowess. Rather, tai chi emphasizes technique over strength.
Tai chi is used to:
Reduce stress
Increase flexibility
Improve muscle strength and definition
Increase energy, stamina and agility
Increase feelings of well-being
Tai chi has more than 100 possible movements and positions. You can find several that you like and stick with those, or explore the full range. The intensity of tai chi varies somewhat depending on the form or style practiced. Some forms of tai chi are more fast-paced than others, for instance. However, most forms are gentle and suitable for everyone. And they all include rhythmic patterns of movement that are coordinated with breathing.
Although tai chi is generally safe, consider talking with your doctor before starting a new program. This is particularly important if you have any problems with your joints, spine or heart.
Stress reduction and other benefits of tai chi
Like other practices that bring mind and body together, tai chi can reduce stress. During tai chi, you focus on movement and breathing. This combination creates a state of relaxation and calm. Stress, anxiety and tension should melt away as you focus on the present, and the effects may last well after you stop your tai chi session.
Tai chi may also help your overall health, although it's not a substitute for traditional medical care. Tai chi is generally safe for people of all ages and levels of fitness. Older adults may especially find tai chi appealing because the movements are low impact and put minimal stress on muscles and joints. Tai chi may also be helpful if you have arthritis or are recovering from an injury.
Despite its ancient history, tai chi has been studied scientifically only in recent years. And that research is suggesting that tai chi may offer numerous other benefits beyond stress reduction, including:
Reducing anxiety and depression
Improving balance and coordination
Reducing the number of falls
Improving sleep quality, such as staying asleep longer at night and feeling more alert during the day
Slowing bone loss in women after menopause
Lowering blood pressure
Improving cardiovascular fitness
Relieving chronic pain
Improving everyday physical functioning
Learning to do tai chi
Wondering how to get started in tai chi? You don't need any special clothing or equipment to do tai chi. To gain full benefits, however, it may be best to seek guidance from a qualified tai chi instructor.
A tai chi instructor can teach you specific positions and how to regulate your breathing. An instructor also can teach you how to practice tai chi safely, especially if you have injuries, chronic conditions, or balance or coordination problems. Although tai chi is slow and gentle, with virtually no negative side effects, injuries are possible if tai chi isn't done properly. It's possible you could strain yourself or overdo it when first learning. Or if you have balance problems, you could fall during tai chi.
You can find tai chi classes in many communities today. Contact your local senior center, YMCA or YWCA, health club, community education center or wellness facility for help finding qualified instructors.
During tai chi classes, the instructor can give you personal guidance and correct any errors in your style before they become habit. Eventually, you may feel confident enough to do tai chi on your own. But if you like the social element, consider sticking with group classes.
Putting tai chi into practice
To reap the greatest stress reduction benefits from tai chi, consider practicing it regularly. Many people find it helpful to practice tai chi in the same place and at the same time every day to develop a routine. But if your schedule is erratic, do tai chi whenever you have a few minutes.
You can even draw on the soothing concepts of tai chi without performing the actual movements if you get stuck in stressful situations — a traffic jam or a work conflict, for instance.

KONSEP TAI CHIDalam I-Ching ("Kitab Perubahan"), istilah Tai chi berarti "puncak yang agung" dan juga diartikan "kosmos". Dalam karya klasik Wang Zong Yue, "Treatise on Tai chi chuan", disebutkan: "Tai chi lahir dari kehampaan; ia menghasilkan gerak dan ketenangan, dan merupakan induk dari Yin dan Yang. Ketika bergerak, ia memisah; ketika tenang, ia menyatu."
Tai chi tidak bisa dipisahkan dengan prinsip yin dan yang. Konsep Yin dan Yang merujuk pada dua aspek yang berbeda tetapi saling melengkapi. Segala sesuatu di dunia ini selalu mengandung unsur Yin dan Yang. Setiap yin mengandung yang dan setiap yang mengandung yin. Sebagai contoh pada bayi, dia terlihat lemah (yin) tetapi memiliki detak jantung yang kuat (yang). Air terlihat sangat lembut (yin) tetapi mengandung kekuatan yang sangat dahsyat (yang). Demikian juga dengan Tai chi. Yin dan Yang dalam Tai chi diwujudkan dalam empat aspek: bentuk, latihan tenaga, aplikasi, dan teori. Dalam Tai chi, biasanya gerakan sangat lamban, anggun, dan berwibawa, berbeda dengan gerakan dalam Shaolin atau ilmu keras lain. Tetapi dalam penerapannya, Tai chi dilakukan dengan cepat dan bertenaga. Jadi, ada unsur harmoni Yin (lambat dan berwibawa) dan Yang (cepat dan bertenaga). Aspek Yang diwujudkan dalam gerak tangan sirkuler dan eksternal, dan aspek Yin diwujudkan dalam pengaturan pernapasan dan visualisasi. Jika kita hanya mempraktekkan bentuk tetapi tidak mengembangkan tenaga berarti kita hanya mengembangkan unsur Yang dengan mengabaikan Yin. Ketenangan, akal, dan ketrampilan diwakili oleh Yin, dan gerakan, tubuh, dan penerapan diwakili oleh Yang.

PEMAHAMAN YANG SALAH TENTANG TAI CHI Selama ini ada pemahaman umum yang salah mengenai Tai chi. Pertama, orang memahami bahwa berlatih tai chi adalah melakukan gerakan "tarian" tai chi yang lembut dan indah dipandang. Aspek penting yang dilupakan adalah jikung. Orang malah memandang jikung adalah latihan untuk kesehatan, yang terpisah dari tai chi. Berlatih tai chi tidak bisa dipisahkan dari berlatih jikung karena jikung merupakan aspek inti dari tai chi. Berlatih tai chi tanpa berlatih jikung hanya akan mendapat sedikit sekali manfaat (baca: dari pada tidak olah raga sama sekali). Gerakan lembut tai chi hanyalah kulit semata, tetapi isinya ada pada jikung. Berlatih jikung ibarat kita mengisi energi (sehingga latihan tai chi disebut latihan tenaga dalam). Inilah rahasianya mengapa para master tai chi bisa begitu hebat bela dirinya.Kedua, orang berlatih Tai chi hanya ditujukan untuk kesehatan. Sejarah lahirnya Tai chi adalah untuk beladiri. Dalam legenda, suatu hari Zhang San Feng menyaksikan pertarungan antara seekor ular dan bangau. Pertarungan tersebut memberi inspirasi untuk merubah gaya Shaolinnya yang keras menjadi gaya yang lebih lunak. Gaya ini yang kemudian berkembang menjadi berbagai aliran tai chi yang sekarang ini. Orang yang berlatih Tai chi hanya untuk kesehatan tanpa memikirkan aspek beladirinya akan kehilangan esensinya, tetapi orang yang berlatih Tai chi untuk beladiri pasti akan mendapatkan aspek kesehatannya. Dalam Tai chi harus selalu ada keseimbangan antara Yin (aspek beladiri) dan Yang (aspek kesehatan).Ketiga, latihan tai chi bukanlah obat bagi suatu penyakit. Pemaham ini yang umumnya menyebabkan seseorang yang berlatih karena menderita penyakit tertentu akan berhenti berlatih karena tidak segera mendapatkan kesembuhan penyakitnya. Tetapi berlatih tai chi secara teratur bisa membantu untuk mempercepat penyembuhan dari penyakit. Perlu dipahami, misalnya penderita asma, dia menderita penyakit tersebut sudah bertahun-tahun. Sudah tentu dia tidak akan sembuh hanya dengan berlatih selama satu-dua bulan saja. Tetapi dari pengalaman, biasanya mereka mulai merasa enak setelah berlatih selama sekitar satu bulan.

Latihan tai chi Pro Patria merupakan ilmu yang sudah turun-temurun diwarisi dari para pendekar terdahulu. Latihannya meliputi jikung dan tai chi chuan. Latihan jikung menjadi dasarnya, sedangkan latihan tai chi merupakan aplikasi beladirinya (Walau demikian, orang yang berlatih tai chi hanya untuk kesehatan tetap bisa berlatih, dengan mengurangi porsi latihan untuk beladirinya).
Latihan jikung di Pro Patria sendiri sangat banyak dan beragam, tetapi secara garis besar (berdasar tingkat "keras"-nya) bisa dikelompokkan menjadi 3, yaitu: jikung lunak, jikung menengah, dan jikung "keras". Pengelompokkan ini hanya untuk memudahkan untuk kelompok mana latihan jikung tersebut diberikan. Misalnya, jikung lunak lebih ditujukan untuk orang pemula (belum pernah berlatih) atau orang tua. Tetapi bukan berarti jikung keras tidak bisa untuk orang tua atau pemula. Dengan sedikit perubahan bentuk, latihan tersebut bisa diterapkan untuk semua orang. Dan sebaliknya, belum tentu orang yang sudah sering berlatih bisa dengan mudah berlatih jikung lunak. Karena setiap latihan jikung mempunyai tingkat kesulitan dan tantangan sendiri-sendiri.
Latihan tai chi Pro Patria yang lebih dikembangkan adalah tai chi gaya Yang. Latihannya dibagi menjadi beberapa tingkatan: tingkat dasar, menengah, dan tingkat lanjut.
· Materi tingkat dasar yaitu wu shing chuan atau tai chi panca unsur. Gerakan tai chi panca unsur meliputi lima gerakan utama tai chi yang meliputi: gerakan unsur logam (Lo Shi Yao Pu), unsur air (Tan Pien), unsur kayu (San Thong Pi'), unsur api (Yu Teng Ciau), dan unsur tanah (Lan Jie Hwe), ditambah dua gerakan penghubung (Ye Ma Fen Cung dan Co Sia Se Tu' Li').
Gambar 1: Potongan Gerakan Tai Chi Wu Shing Chuan

Materi tai chi tingkat menengah yaitu tai chi gaya Yang yang disederhanakan atau lebih dikenal dengan tai chi 24 jurus. Materi ini yang diberikan karena sudah mencakup semua aspek gerakan beladiri tai chi.

Materi tai chi tingkat lanjut meliputi latihan tui shou atau tangan melekat dan aplikasi beladiri berpasangan. Aplikasi berpasangan ini meliputi latihan dengan sasaran benda mati, untuk melatih pelepasan/ledakan energi, dan berpasangan dengan lawan (sparring), untuk melatih teknik beladirinya.