다음은 2000년 1월 14일 the Korea Herald 에 소개된 기사입니다.
[Weekender]An ancient exercise for the new millennium, tai
chi chuan takes root in land of taekwondo
Dawn. As a pale sun rises, a group of dreamlike silhouettes
coalesce against the horizon. People of all ages are
moving through a series of slow-motion movements.
The graceful motions contain an intrinsic animal quality.
At one point, the practitioners take the form of a crane with
wings outstretched; at another, the low postures recall a
snake slithering down the limb of a tree.
The activity is one of the most instantly recognizable aspects
of Chinese culture; the setting could be any public park
in any modern city in China, East Asia, or, indeed, the West.
The value of this art in the modern age is becoming widely
known internationally. As mankind enters the new
millenium, despite all the high technology, improved medical
care, and pampered lifestyles, the world is still plagued
by ill health, stress and spiritual emptiness.
Paradoxically, one of the most efficacious means of altering
this imbalance is an Oriental exercise originating from
rural China's pre-industrial past: "tai chi chuan"
(sometimes "tai chi" or "taiji;" and"tae
kuk kwon" in Korean).
Where does it hail from, what does it consist of and what
does it's offer? The origins are unclear. In legend, tai chi
chuan is attributed to Chang San Feng, a mythical Taoist hermit,
but historically, the art has been tentatively traced
back to Chen Village in north central China.
The originator is believed to be Chen Wanting, a Ming Dynasty
warrior who combined the Buddhist martial arts of
the nearby Shaolin Temple with Taoist breathing/meditative
practices known as "qigong" ("kigong"
The art came to prominence when Master Yang Lu-chan traveled
from the Chen Village to Beijing in the early 19th
century, where he took on all comers, earning the nickname
"Yang the Invincible" and establishing a formidable
As an instructor at the imperial palace, Yang's art - originally
termed "soft" or "slippery" boxing - came
attention of Mandarin scholars who established a theoretical
basis for practice. This intellectual grounding was the
ancient philosophy of "yin and yang" ("eum
and yang" in Korean), in which opposites merge to form
The yin-yang symbol is known as the tai chi ("supreme
ultimate"); the addition of the suffix "chuan"
As a fighting style, tai chi relies on yielding and counterattacking:
when the opponent overextends, he has moved
from "yang" to "yin" and is vulnerable.
Relaxation and correct postural alignment allow the tai chi
fighter's body to
act as a spring between the ground and the opponent, receiving
energy and returning it with interest. Over time, as
firearms gradually invalidated traditional fighting techniques,
tai chi chuan's combat values deteriorated.
But the art, with a strong following among China's elite,
was popularized throughout society as an exercise - albeit
one with martial, philosophical and even spiritual undercurrents.
Currently, tai chi has millions of followers, and is
probably the most widely practiced martial art in the world.
Although most people have seen tai chi's solo routines -
a series of linked postures - this is only one aspect. Also
practiced in complete systems are standing meditative poses,
basic stances and stepping, empty hand and weapon
routines, and power building exercises with poles, weights,
medicine balls, etc.
The combative side of the art is explored through the self-defense
applications of the routines, practicing a two-
person sensitivity exercise known as push hands (in which
practitioners attempt to subtly push one another off
balance), and finally, contact sparring with protective equipment.
Some masters also teach semi-secret "nei gong"
(internal training) techniques to facilitate power development
and absorption abilities. However, today, instructors
who teach the full curriculum are extremely rare.
Even so, limited curricula offer subtle but substantial,
benefits. Tai chi is practiced in relaxed but alert slow motion
- "like a tiger stalking it's prey" in the words
of Master George Xu - to ensure detailed postural correctness,
low, rounded poses, and abdominal breathing. According to
writer Ben Fusaro, the art exercises the three "pumps"
of the body: the legs, by the low postures; the diaphragm,
by the low breathing; and the heart, by the rhythmic
The practitioner "roots" into the ground, relaxing
and allowing gravity to compress the body unit into the most
effectively aligned posture: legs bent, chest sunk, shoulders
rounded, chin tucked and spine stretched.
The constant compression and expansion (yang, yin, yang...)
of the legs and spine improve the joints' lubricating
The spirals within the movements resemble the DNA helix;
this form of motion tightens tendons and ligaments.
Abdominal breathing ensures efficient respiration, massages
the internal organs against the spine, and esoterically,
the art is believed to increase the store and flow of "chi"
("ki"in Korean), or bio-energy.
Relaxed and natural postures encourage a relaxed and stress-free
mind. Practicing in a park, preferably near water,
at dawn, when yin changes to yang, ensures the purest air
and the largest number of ions.
Interestingly, the art's principles are now being seriously
studied by scientists and doctors.
Just as high-level Taoist philosophy has been found to share
much common ground with advanced physics, so tai
chi has proved to be a near perfect exercise bio-mechanically,
and it is now used as a rehabilitative physical
therapy in hospitals East and West. For postural and circulatory
problems, stress-related disorders, joint conditions
and general rehabilitation, tai chi offers much.
Although the classic image of the tai chi practitioner may
be the white-bearded master of senior years, the art's
benefits are applicable to people of all ages.
But, like everything of value, it is no simple regimen.
Perseverance and commitment are required if one is to reap
"Tai Chi is like burying a seed: it takes time for
a seed to put down roots, and finally blossom," says
won, a 71-year-old Korean practitioner.
Despite tai chi's benefits, Korea is the one nation in the
Orient where it has little public popularity. Japan alone
over half a million practitioners and several Chinese masters
This is due to various factors: Korea has only had relations
with China over the last decade, there is no substantial
Chinese minority, and the government has energetically promoted
home-grown martial arts, notably taekwondo.
A further consideration may be the Korean national character,
which has a tendency to prefer flash over substance.
The slow motion and subtle moves of tai chi chuan lack the
spectacular attributes of taekwondo or hapkido.
Nevertheless, increasing local interest in alternative health
and traditional exercises - kigong/danjon hoheup,
taekkyun, aromatherapy, foot massage etc - may have a boosting
effect. And a movement is taking root.
Members of Korea's fledgling tai chi community recently
converged on Inchon - not coincidentally, home to one of
Korea's last Chinese communities - for the annual tai chi
exposition and competition.
On the bitterly cold morning of Dec. 19, instructors and
students from Inchon, Taejon and Seoul, of both sexes and
with ages ranging from 11 to 71, gathered to showcase their
Two main sub-systems of tai chi are practiced in Korea.
The most popular is the modern Beijing form, which is practiced
entirely in slow motion with long, extended
movements, and includes techniques from the three major sub-styles
of yai chi (Yang family, Wu family and Chen
The second is the original Chen village style. Unlike more
modern forms, this system features explosive kicks,
stamps and strikes, as well as slow motion coiling, spiraling
To spice up the proceedings, kung fu, hapkido and pa kua,
another Chinese internal martial art which shares the
principles of tai chi, were also demonstrated, as were tai
Tai chi, however, is an art for practitioners, not spectators.
The audience was limited exclusively to enthusiasts.
Seoul instructor Suh Myong-won (see the photo of the man
with a sword on Page 7), 43, says, "Although it was a
small competition, it will contribute to the art's growth."
One encouraging factor is the fact that Korean practitioners
are approaching the art in a practical manner. The hippies,
spiritualists and chi-power fantasists who have plagued
the art in the West, do not currently inhabit Korea's tai
Despite its worldwide popularity and the many well-documented
benefits of practice, it remains unclear whether tai
chi will sink deep roots and blossom in taekwondo's homeland.
One thing, though, is undeniable: Korean parks full of tai
chi practitioners would certainly impart some much-needed
calm to the mornings.
For various systems of tai chi, qigong and pa kua in Inchon,
contact Ahn Cheol-kyun at (032)876-4483 or 011-9728-
5209. For a complete syllabus of traditional chen tai chi
in Southern Seoul, contact Suh Myong-won at (02)592-5911
or 017-208-5911. For various systems of tai chi, qigong and
kung fu in Songtan, coantact Yim Hon-sok at (0333)663-
9967 or 011-9780-3180. Fluent English spoken.
by Andrew Salmon Contributing writer