T'ai Chi Ch'uan, literally Supreme Ultimate Fist, is a Chinese martial art rooted in Taoist philosophy of living in harmony with nature and practiced today primarily as an exercise for health. It is an extraordinarily subtle system and is one of the so-called soft style or internal martial arts. T'ai Chi Ch'uan requires relaxed natural movements that integrate the whole body with the mind. T'ai Chi Ch'uan relies on the intrinsic strength of functionally aligned postures, in contrast to muscular strength normally exhibited by hard-style or external martial arts, such as Karate.
There are styles of T'ai Chi Ch'uan (notably the Chen Family Style) that incorporate some fast, explosive movements. In general, however, the Solo Form practice of T'ai Chi Ch'uan is characterized by slow fluid movements. To the unpracticed eye, it might look like slow motion Karate. Acting like a form of moving Yoga, T'ai Chi Ch'uan improves health and well-being. It can be practiced by people of all ages and is frequently cited for the improved health and vigor it gives older practitioners. The body moves slowly in the Solo Form so that the mind can attend to training/correcting the body to the precise configurations required. The principles on which T'ai Chi Ch'uan is based offer a distinctive approach to martial arts, physical fitness, and philosophy of life.