It was originally designed for the battlefield buttoday it is seen primarily as a form of physical exercise or gentle gymnastics. El Tai-Chi, under its Chinese name Taijiquan, It was inscribed in mid-December by UNESCO on its list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, a new international recognition of Chinese civilization after calligraphy (2009), Beijing opera (2010) and acupuncture (2010).
Tai-Chi is a martial art that has existed for centuries. It was originally designed for the battlefield, but today it is mainly considered as a form of physical exercise or gentle gymnastics. It is practiced by countless people of all ages in China, especially on the streets or in parks, where they can be seen chaining slow and fast movements to keep their body and mind in shape.
A Tai-Chi teacher gently grabs his student, before roughly sending him to the ground. Like the two of them, the Chinese are proud of the World Heritage inscription of this martial art.
“It is very gratifying that our culture can help people around the world to be in better shape”he told the agency AFP Wang Zhanjun, 47, in his training room on the outskirts of Tiananmen Square in Beijing. “I’m very happy”, He underlined, along with his four students, this imposing man with a shaved head, Tai-Chi multi-medalist, who taught his techniques to actor Jet Li, star of action films.
Tai-Chi consists of performing a series of solo movements or combat gestures against an opponent. It is considered that improves posture, strengthens the body and increases flexibility of the joints. Tai-Chi “makes its practitioners more handsome and its practitioners more beautiful,” Wang Zhanjun smiled. A benefit, according to him, due to sports practice, but also to the fact that he can better manage his breathing and thus increase the oxygen content of the blood.
A feudal art Tai-Chi suffered during the Cultural Revolution, when the masters were persecuted, accused of propagating a “feudal” art. Once this period had passed, it was necessary to revive the discipline and retrain teachers and practitioners. “In the years 1980-1990, my father, a master of the discipline, traveled to Japan, Europe and especially France to popularize Tai-Chi,” explained Wang Zhanjun.
In this regard, he added: “The work of the previous generation is paying off, as many foreigners now go the other way and come to China to learn.” Tai-Chi is not a uniform discipline. It has several “schools”, often identified by the name of a clan and whose practices differ. In the west, the yang style, with its slow, circular gestures, it is generally the most popular. The One With Chen School, practiced by Wang Zhanjun, includes more dynamic movements, more marked by the fighting part of Tai-Chi.
To these can be added the use of weapons such as swords, clubs or daggers. Many Tai-Chi competitions are organized but, at the moment, perhaps due to the difficulty of unifying its different styles, it is not recognized as an Olympic discipline. However, it could be useful against Covid-19, said Wang Zhanjun.
“The practice of Tai-Chi allows us to strengthen our physical constitution, our immunity and our cardiopulmonary capacity,” he said. and concluded: “Obviously it is beneficial for the fight against covid-19”.