Benefits of Tai Chi
by Zhuo Wenda
Introduction of Tai Chi
Tai Chi is one of Chinese martial art practiced for benefit of both self-defence training and health. It is also believe as internal martial arts. Some training forms of Tai Chi are especially known for being practiced with relatively slow movements. Even though many people know about Tai Chi, not many of them understand the true knowledge, benefits and purpose behind every steps of Tai Chi. The study of Tai Chi such as tai chi chuan, primarily involves three aspects which are health, meditation and martial art.
Benefits of Tai Chi
Tai chi chuan was originally taught as a martial art and longevity exercise. It is known as preventive medicine and wellness exercise, the martial art aspects then took a back stage to it being a health exercise in China. The training of Tai chi chuan concentrates on relieving the physical effects of stress on the body and mind. It is believed that tai chi can delay aging and prolong life, increase flexibility, strengthen muscles and tendons, aid in the treatment of heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, digestive disorders, and many other illnesses. As tai chi movements are slow and deliberate with shifts of body weight from one leg to the other in coordination with upper body movements, it challenges balance which helps improve balance and reduce fall frequency. The obvious example is to compare myself 20s years old girl with my master who is in his 70s and have been practicing tai chi for over 50 years, he is surely performed better in balancing, flexibility, defence, attack and many others.
Tai Chi Meditation is means for deepening awareness and ability to relax your body and soul. Therefore, the focus and calmness cultivated by the meditative aspect of tai chi is necessary in maintaining optimum health. The meditation will help us to explore the nature of opposites and to practise through tai chi’s rhythmic alternation between yin and yang through slow motion movement.
The ability to use tai chi chuan as a form of self-defence in combat is the deep understanding of the art. It is the study of appropriate change in response to outside forces. The use of Tai chi chuan as martial art is quite challenging and requires a great deal of training.
Learning process with Shifu
My interest with tai chi begins when I watched movie about tai chi martial arts. I start to ask my partner if he wants to learn it with me, and of course he agreed. We attended our first class in October 2013, it was unforgettable experience, and the warm-up exercise itself made us aches for almost a week. We were so impressed and curious on how it can help us in our everyday life. I used to have back-pain quite often if I went out for almost whole day and also when I carry heavy things. After first year of tai chi, I realize that my back pain frequency reduce, it still appear when I sit too long or carry heavy stuffs, but not as frequent as it used to. I feel myself so relax, calm and refreshing after tai chi class even though some days I have to go home with pain in my arms or thighs.
Many of my friends who found out I am learning tai chi always give me surprise responses. In their knowledge, tai chi is an exercise meant for old folks. However, I have been sharing with them that tai chi is more than what they see in their everyday life (old folks exercise in the park with slow movement). The slow motion of tai chi is actually the forms that teach me a lot in balancing, it might look simple but the correct form will give us aches and pains especially for beginner. Furthermore, every movement of Tai chi is actually to use as self-defence and also to attack opponents. Shifu always told us the intention is always the crucial part, imagine your rival is attacking you and that is when your alertness turn active. The practises from Shifu give me improvement in term of physical movement, sensitivity and develops chi (life-force energy). As I practice on how to uproot a person with Shifu, I realized that with one simple mistakes, such as the leg open too wide or its position is not right, can create huge different on the pushing force.
In these 2 years, I have been practicing 37-steps of tai chi and trying to understand the meaning of each of the movement. Even though I have not been fully aware of all of them, but I believe with Shifu’s guidance, I will be able to achieve all of them with full understanding.