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What is Fan Tai Chi?

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  • Written By: Christine Hudson
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2016
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Tai chi chuan, also known as tai chi, is a form of Chinese martial arts which has been practiced for centuries. As opposed to other martial arts which are practiced for the purpose of fighting, tai chi focuses on internal meditation and defense. Fan tai chi is but one form of tai chi which breaks from the traditional tai chi chuan and further focuses on meditation and the body. As tai chi began to be adopted and changed within holistic movements, less attention was paid to defense and more was given to its potential health benefits through breathing techniques and relaxation. Fan tai chi is very similar to sword tai chi, except that the object used to focus a person's movement and will is not a weapon.

Sometimes spelled “Thai chi," the martial art translates to “Supreme Ultimate Fist." Unlike other martial arts, where the emphasis is on the body and making it tougher, fan tai chi is more about aligning the forces of the body, making it more of an art. Due to this, it has grown in popularity with those looking for a way to meditate through physical movements. During the exercise, movements are designed to align the body and keep it in rhythm with the mind and spirit, which is said to have benefits in physical health and stress relief.

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Some practices of tai chi, such as sword tai chi, do still use weapons. Most of these weapons, however, are used for aesthetics or to focus the practitioner’s will on the object and movements. The fan used in fan tai chi operates much the same way. It is common to see these movements during celebrations or incorporated into a dance.

Although there are those that still follow tai chi chuan for its martial applications, its modern popularity has caused a number of its teachers to focus solely on those aspects that emphasize its health applications. Although competitions are still held, the aesthetics of its movements are emphasized rather than one-on-one matches. This form of martial art has effectively evolved into a personal practice for the betterment of an individual’s health.

There are many fan tai chi teachers around the world, and the martial art's popularity has given rise to many ways of learning. Some classes are available online, while others may be available in the form of digital video disks (DVDs). Those individuals with local classes in their area may wish to receive the one-on-one training offered.

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SteamLouis
Post 5

@WarHawk-- That's very interesing. I never knew that. Of course, that would be impossible now since the fans are just decoration as you said.

I always thought that fans were used just because they looked cool. Well, I did have an idea that they may help promote balance or the color might have an effect on psychology. But it never occurred to me that steel fans were actually used as weapons in the past.

fBoyle
Post 4

@SarahGen-- I'm not an expert on Tai Chi. There may be a difference between the two but they are very similar. You are right that both concentrate on balance, health and relaxation rather than self-defense or battle. Both use slow body movements to promote the body and mind to relax.

Contrary to popular belief, Fan Tai Chi does in fact make the body stronger through stretching. It expands the potential of the muscles. What's also nice about this type of martial art is that it is not high on adrenalin. Adrenalin actually translates into stress, it's a hormone we produce when we need to fight or flight away from something. Fan Tai Chi exercises the body without that rush of adrenalin which is great for people who are already leading tense, stressful lives. I think this is why we are seeing such popularity of this type of Tai Chi in urban areas.

SarahGen
Post 3

Is there a difference between Fan Tai Chi and Taoist Tai Chi? I believe Taoist Tai Chi also focuses on balance and health than defense, am I right?

Warhawk
Post 2

The fans used in fan Tai Chi are used purely for aesthetics or as a means of focusing ones attention on a single object for the joining of mind and body. However in Japan, there were warriors who used fan like objects both as weapons and as shields. Japanese war fans were sometimes used by the Samurai Class of feudal Japan. There were two types, the tessen and the gunbai. The tessen was composed of heavy metals like iron and was made to look like an authentic fan. They were used as a disguised weapon in places where weaponry was prohibited. Some tessen actually opened into a razor sharp blade while others were simply an iron club disguised to look

like a closed fan. The tessen could also be used to ward off arrows and darts as well as be thrown in some cases. There are even accounts of the tessen being used as an aid in swimming. The gunbai was made of lightweight metals and doubled as both a simple arrow shield or as a means of signalling troops.
WildHooper
Post 1

Were the fans used in Tai Chi ever actually used in battle?

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