The ancient art of Tai Chi has its origins in China, where it has been observed for hundreds of years as a form of exercise and as a method of improving the physical body’s internal energy paths. The individual movements of Tai Chi emphasise correct form and feeling. The deliberately slow and gentle style of Tai Chi further accentuates this point.
Tai Chi encourages flexibility, strength as well as stamina by incorporating all parts of the body in its movements. This is achieved with very little or no impact on the participant’s physical form. By teaching the whole body to move all its components together, Tai Chi provides a pathway to connect the body with the mind, improving the participant’s sense of balance and co-ordination. People with stiff or painful joints find that the art of Tai Chi can assist in improving their ailments.
Tai Chi has its roots as a martial art form, yet the style does not involve self-defence or attacking strikes or movements. Tai Chi concentrates on whole body movement and breathing, paying attention to all the joints and major muscle groupings of the human form, which assists the individual, improves their circulation and chi, or internal energy flows. Chinese medicine promotes chi as being directly involved in the prevention of disease and ill health.
During the movements used in Tai Chi, the body adopts a soft and relaxed state. This posture has been compared to having a piece of string attached to the head with the limbs moving in the style of a puppet. Students of Tai Chi are encouraged to remain focused on every movement and to concentrate on the resulting energy flow. Relaxation and focus provide a free channel for the chi or energy to move freely through the whole body.
Although the body is yielding and enjoying a relaxed state, it is still in a constant flow of movement. Likewise the free flow of energy is constantly moving, assisted by the physical changes of the body’s position. Normal movement in day to day tasks requires minimal energy, but done with a free flowing chi, these actions feel almost weightless.
The ability to use an opponent’s chi against them is learnt by the Tai Chi student. The Tai Chi stylist remains calm and relaxed in the knowledge that the opponent’s energy can be counteracted in this way. There is a minimal amount of physical strength needed in Tai Chi. The Tai Chi student can make their attack after the opponent has become tired from exerting all of their own energy. The opponent is spent and can offer no real defence or counter attack.
Tai Chi is among the most ancient martial arts studied today. Unfortunately it is also quite difficult to source a reputable and skilled teacher. In a similar fashion to some of the other less popular martial arts, such as Tiger Claw and Ninjutsu, it can be extremely difficult to source a school or dojo that offers Tai Chi classes. If you are fortunate enough to locate a teacher or school offering Tai Chi classes then do not hesitate to be involved. Tai Chi has a lot to offer students wishing to learn about improving the body’s energy flow and spiritual health. Tai Chi offers people the chance to learn things about themselves they did not consider possible.
Photo courtesy of Ken Seghers
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what is chi meditation
Even though Tai chi is a physical exercise, it helps the practitioners to focus on their breathing and achieve a meditative state of mind. Visualization is also included, as many scools of Tai chi teach their students to control the flow of chi energy throughout the body by visualizing it. Tai chi is therefore a sort of meditation that can help improve one's mental clarity and well-being as well as reduce the stress levels.
Is tai chi good for arthritis?
The results of one scientific study published in 2004 suggest that Tai chi might be good for treating arthritis. Tai Chi has proven to have significant benefits on the range of motion of the lower extremity, especially ankle range of motion, for people with rheumatoid arthritis. It could help improves the flexibility, balance and strength in this area. In addition, the gentle and graceful movements of tai chi could be a way to relieve some of the pain this condition brings. It is only one of the many alternative therapies for relieving pain which may possibly help you cut back on medications for pain.