The Characters for Tai Chi ( Tai Ji ) are as follows:
Tai is usually referred to as great or supreme. Chi can be referred to as ultimate. Together the ideogram has come to mean Supreme Ultimate. Why it is supreme ultimate is hidden inside each character and those characters reveal hidden practices. The first use of the word Tai Chi comes from the I Ching and a reference to the balance of yin and yang. However the hidden meaning reveals Tai Chi as One Centered Person, Between Heaven and Earth, Standing like a Pine Tree, Using the Mouth and the Hands in a Balanced Fashion.
The compound character Tai really means One Centered Person Between Heaven and Earth. The head is in heaven and the body is on earth and the mark in the middle indicates the middle or center of the person, the dan tien. The greatest human achievement is to become a centered and balanced person between heaven and earth. This is why this character means Supreme.
The second character is Ji, or Chi. Early translations thought this character was the Chi or qi energy that permeates the universe. The mistake of this word came about because the ultimate ideal is the balance of the yin and yang energies that emerge from the Wu Chi.
The first upper character on the left is the character for a tree, and in this instance, a pine tree.
This tree character refers to the ability to be as relaxed as a pine tree. The word Fang Soong means to be relaxed as a pine tree and is chanted in meditations like Fang Soong Gong Qigong. It also refers to the Qigong Tai Chi practice To Stand Like a Tree, sometimes also called Standing Like a Stake or Jam Jhong. This practice allows the Tai Chi player to root into the Yin earth energy and the Yang sky energy, always in a relaxed fashion the way a tree actually does in nature. In Tai Chi practice one has to remain constantly relaxed while moving from tension.
The compound character on the right of the character for Ji, or Chi, shows the characters for the hand and mouth contained within two lines and split by a centered line. The mouth character
and the hand character
balanced on each side of each other contained by the top and bottom lines here on earth or within the earth plane. Notice how the mouth and hand characters are contained between a top line and a bottom line. This indicates on earth not in heaven. This is the ultimate a person can be. Having a balanced use of the hand and mouth, here on Earth, using the natural Li or principles inherent within.
The characters Tai Chi or Taiji literally means “ One Centered Person Between Heaven and Earth Who Knows How to Stand Like a Tree, Be Relaxed as a Pine Tree and Uses the Hand and the Mouth in a Balanced Fashion on Earth”. This image is part of our Tai Chi cultivation. It is the ideal to strive for.
Somehow the Tai Chi characters have been misinterpreted in the West to only mean Supreme Ultimate Fist. Because the Tai Chi has always been referred to as the Supreme Ultimate Goal, the translations have been confused over time.
The Chinese word Chuan or Quan usually is used in the word for fist or boxing. It is also used in the word earnest or sincere 拳拳 (Quan Quan) or “ to clasp hands / to put one’s palms together (in obeisance) “ 擎拳合掌 (qíngquánhézhǎng) or “to push up one’s sleeves and bare one’s fists / to be eager to get started “ 捋臂揎拳 (luōbìxuānquán).
If Tai Chi is only seen as a martial art, it is difficult to understand the true meaning of the characters and catch the Li or function of the practice. The Martial Arts view can obscure the Li (function and essence) of Tai Chi as a path towards cultivation of the original self.
By balancing the dualism of Tai Chi in our body and our mind, the actions of dualism come to the front of our consciousness. Tai Chi is therefore a method of recognizing dualism and opens the path for the ultimate return to non-dualism, or the Wu Chi. Chuan is to roll up ones sleeve and get to work earnestly to make that happen as an act of devotion or obeisance.
The balanced awareness that comes from practicing Tai Chi creates A Person Who is Able to be a Centered Person Between Heaven and Earth Who Knows How to Stand Like a Tree, be Relaxed as a Pine Tree and Uses the Hand and the Mouth in a Balanced Fashion. This accomplishment leads to a clear and different way of being.
In order for true seeing to become a reality, there must be an alignment with the original Li source. Tai chi provides that alignment. When this happens, the power of that original source comes forth into our awareness, a power that the ancient Chinese called Te (pronounced DUH).