Tai Chi (太极拳) translated means, "supreme ultimate fist", "boundless fist", "great extremes boxing", or simply "the ultimate". The concept of the Taiji ("supreme ultimate") appears in both Taoist and Confucian Chinese philosophy where it represents the fusion or mother of Yin and Yang into a single Ultimate.
The physical techniques of tai chi are characterized by the use of leverage through the joints based on coordination and relaxation, rather than muscular tension, in order to neutralize or initiate attacks. The slow, repetitive work involved in the process of learning how that leverage is generated gently and measurably increases, opens the internal circulation. It primarily involves learning solo routines, known as postures or forms (套路 taolu) and most often characterized by exceedingly slow movements.
Many people practice Tai Chi for health, meditation, and as a form of martial arts. Tai chi's health training concentrates on relieving the physical effects of stress on the body and mind. Focusing the mind solely on the movements of the form purportedly helps to bring about a state of mental calm and clarity. The focus and calmness cultivated by the meditative aspect of tai chi is seen as necessary in maintaining optimum health (in the sense of relieving stress) and in application of the form as a soft style martial art. The ability to use tai chi as a form of self-defense in combat is the test of a student's understanding of the art. Martially speaking, Tai chi is the study of appropriate change in response to outside forces; the study of yielding and "sticking" to an incoming attack rather than attempting to meet it with opposing force.