Top ten things you will never know until you learn Taiji
by Dr Tan Soo Jiuan
Number 1: Taiji is NOT just for the old and retired people. Indeed, the younger you are when you start to learn taiji, the better you are in making those intricate taiji movements which require nimble joints and limbs, not to mention the ability to memorize the various movements.
Number 2: Taiji is NOT all about slow movements and does give you a good workout. The movements may be slow but they certainly need strong concentration, proper breathing, and subtle workout of the limbs and joints. You will be surprised how “drenched with perspiration you can get after just 15 minutes of a proper taiji session.
Number 3: Taiji is NOT only for those who know the Chinese language. Of course it helps if you know some Chinese characters to appreciate what the taiji steps mean in Chinese but there are many bilingual instructors around (like our instructor Mr. Rennie Chong) who can teach taiji in English. How else do you explain why there are so many Caucasians around the world who can practice taiji?
Number 4: Taiji is NOT slow and boring. Of course Taiji is slow and boring if you compare it to other forms of exercise like jogging and tennis. Taiji is not slow but graceful, it is not boring but contains many different movements which require a lot of concentration and precision. There are variations of the taiji movement as in taiji fan (太極扇) and taiji sword (太極劍) which are certainly not slow and boring.
Number 5: Taiji does NOT require you to buy any special equipment or outfit. All you need is a set of comfortable clothes and shoes to practice in.
Number 6: Taiji does NOT require a special time and place for practice. Once you have learned the basic steps, you can practice them in any place and at any time of the day. In fact, you can even practice it sitting down when you are confined to your seat on the airplane!
Number 7: Taiji does NOT require you to have company. It is a sport that can be practiced alone or with a group. It can even be a family sport!
Number 8: Taiji is NOT an expensive sport to learn. Apart from professional instructors who conduct personal or group classes, many community centres offer taiji courses for a small fee which is not expensive.
Number 9: Taiji is NOT just an exercise! It helps to strengthen your core muscles, make your joints and limbs nimble, regulate your breathing, improve your circulation, and is also a great stress reliever.
Number 10: Taiji is NOT for the faint-hearted. It may take years of conscientious practice to appreciate and enjoy all the physical and mental benefits of Taiji, but it is worth it as the rewards are lifelong!