Tai chi developed in China as a very effective martial art, as well as a detailed medical and meditative system. When it is referred to as a marital art it is often called tai chi chuan (grand ultimate fist). In practice you do not have to be a martial arts expert to gain tai chi’s benefits, and the process to become proficient at using tai chi as a martial art is not a quick one.
In China it is recognised that tai chi can be done by anyone; male and female, young and old, strong and weak, healthy or ill. Originally, the practitioners of tai chi became renown within China for their exceptional fighting ability, rather than for the health and energy aspects of tai chi. However, as one tai chi master was fond of saying, “everybody wants to be healthy, only some people want to learn how to fight”