Tai Chi is a martial art steeped in a thousand year old Chinese philosophy. It is now practised for its positive effects on health and well-being. It is characterised by slow, graceful movements which combine both body movement and mental intention.
The word ‘Tai Chi’ has been defined as 'Supreme Ultimate’ as well as ‘Unlimited Energy'. This particular energy is ‘YuanQi’ or vital energy. The cultivation and movement of Qi around the body is common to most Chinese martial arts, Qigong and health arts. It is what enables the body and mind to deeply relax and a natural self to emerge.
It is a common perception that Tai Chi is practised only by the elderly. It is true that the Chinese describe Tai Chi as a ‘longevity practice’ and there is an ever increasing amount of research confirming its value for this age group. Yet Tai Chi can be of benefit to anyone who feels the effects of modern day stress. It has been demonstrated to have a positive effect on chronic painful conditions such as fibromyalgia, arthritus and digestive problems. The Harvard Medical School has reviewed the medical research on Tai Chi and concluded that it:
Reduces stress and tension – its slow, deep breathing creates a sense of peace and also improves lung function.
Strengthens the muscular-skeletal system – numerous studies conclude that Tai Chi not only improves balance and posture but also increases bone density.
Reduces aches and pains – Tai Chi’s slow gentle movements increases joint flexibility and pain free movement.
Strengthens the heart – Tai Chi has a moderate aerobic effect which aids the movement of blood and Qi around the body and helps regulate the nervous system.
Sharpens the mind – learning new skills and a sequence of movements requires concentration and awareness.
Tai Chi is taught either as a health art or a martial art or both. How do you tell? If termed ‘Tai Chi’ generally it is practised as a health art, a moving meditation. ‘Tai Chi Ch’uan’ or ‘Tai Chi Fist’ is taught as a martial art. Yet they are both share the same foundation:
the generation and movement of Qi around the body and
the expression of Qi for martial, artistic or therapeutic ends.
You can practice Tai Chi at home or anywhere. In a class you practice with others harmonising your movements, breathing together, creating a feeling of being part of something bigger. Moving like the sea. Ebbing and Flowing.
Tai Chi can be suprisingly demanding but because the movements are both relaxed and natural it can safely be practised by everyone. If you have any concerns about whether it is right for you contact both the teacher and/or your doctor.
Who can practice Tai Chi?
Dr Shen Hongxun - Lightening Across the Back.
Master Shen Jin - Diagonal Flying
What do you need?
My classes require no special equipment other than comfortable clothes and shoes. A willingness to try Tai Chi always helps.
All together now - Push