Originating from Ancient China, Tai Chi is a renowned martial art developed by Chen Wangting around the year 1670. Even though it’s a form of martial art, Tai Chi does not necessarily have attacking movements.
Instead, it’s a practice that exercises your mind and body. Unlike other martial arts, it’s not a competitive sport either. In fact, people practice it for health and spiritual reasons.
Each and every one of us has life energy, otherwise known as “Chi” or “Qi.” According to the Tai Chi for Health Institute, one of the main purposes of Tai Chi is to help our life energy flow better throughout our entire being.
Our life energy is a powerful thing, and with constant practice, one will be able to reap the many benefits of this exercise.
It may sound simple, but Tai Chi is actually a complex kind of exercise. Despite the fact that it deals with gentle movements, it also deals with forces – both in nature and within ourselves. It is undoubtedly a calming activity, but it strengthens you on the inside.
Like a tree, a person will become full of life and strength on the inside, while remaining calm on the outside. As mentioned previously, Tai Chi doesn’t involve any aggressive or striking movements. This is because it’s more about yielding.
However, one simply doesn’t yield – it’s about taking the force of an attacker, for example, and using it against them. Tai Chi practitioners believe that one shouldn’t fight brute force with brute force, as this will only lead to the injury of both parties. Patience and waiting are key.
For instance, one has to wait until the attacker gets tired before changing the flow of the force. One of the lessons a Tai Chi martial artist learns is balance and harmony, and how important these two are.
All the living creatures in this planet are thought of as equal. Because of that fact, a practitioner will be able to view everyone and everything in a kinder, more respectful perspective.
There are three popular types of Tai Chi, and these are the Wu, Yang and the Tai Chih Chi. Both the Wu and the Yang types have two forms: the shorter form, and the longer, traditional form. For Wu, the shorter form has 24-36 movements.
On the other hand, the traditional form is comprised of 100 movements. This Wu style is gentle and doesn’t require one to bend the knees too much. As a result, it’s an ideal style for beginners to learn, as it doesn’t demand as much as the other styles.
For the Yang style, there are 24 movements in the shorter form, while there are 108 movements in the traditional form. This style may be difficult for some people, as it’s mostly composed of bending one’s knees.
Last but not the least, the Tai Chih Chi style only has one form, and it has only 20 movements. The stance of this one is high, and the practitioner doesn’t get to shift the weight between the two legs.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that one style is better than the other, though. All have their differences and their perks. However, all in all, they help guide the practitioner and have soft, graceful and flowing movements.
All the movements involved in Tai Chi directly affect the Qi. Since it’s a life force found within all living beings, it’s not something that can be seen without the help of Kirlian photography. However, it’s something that can be felt.
All kinds of cultures have similar beliefs in an energy that permeates the living. This energy is what supposedly gives a body or a vessel life and movement. For instance, in Japan it’s known as Ki, while it’s Prana in India.
To put it simply, the human body has a complex set of energy systems that intertwine with each other. When these energy systems are functioning the right way, then that becomes a basis on a person’s health as well.
This life energy flows through a person’s body and it’s a necessity in order for a body to work as it should. Qi can be found everywhere – in the air, environment, sun, food, etc.
Tai Chi helps in restoring the amount of Qi a person has in their body. That is one of the many reasons why this ancient art is still being practiced by many people all over the world.
Tai Chi happens internally, meaning on the inside of one’s body. In time, a practitioner of Tai Chi will begin to feel strengthened muscles, improved flexibility and immunity, and so much more.
In fact, Chinese medicine believes that our Qi has something to do about whether a person gets sick easily or not. Even though most people describe it as a soft practice, it’s actually as fat-burning as other forms of exercise, if not more.
As a matter of fact, just one hour of Tai Chi allows one to burn more calories than, let’s say, an hour of surfing. Besides those that have been mentioned, other benefits include:
According to the Mayo Clinic, it’s best to routinely do Tai Chi in order to continually feel the benefits. In other words, doing Tai Chi at the same time and place every day is ideal. However, this may not be possible for everyone, especially those with fluctuating schedules.
If that is the case, practicing Tai Chi at any time of the day would still be beneficial.
To put it simply, anyone can do Tai Chi, as it is a slow-paced activity that doesn’t put a lot of stress on the muscles. However, Mayo Clinic does say that middle-aged or older adults might especially appreciate this form of exercise.
Tai Chi is also relatively cheap and doesn’t really need equipment. Because of this, it can also be appealing to students who want to be healthy and fit, but don’t really have the necessary funds to go to a gym.
Of course, this can also apply to working adults who want to save some money. Tai Chi can be done anywhere – whether at home or in nature. It’s a great activity to do alone, but it can also be fun to do it as a group.
However, it might not necessarily be an ideal exercise for pregnant women, or for those who have certain health ailments. It’s best to check with a doctor to make sure that Tai Chi is safe to do.
In some instances, there might just be some postures or techniques that should be avoided in order to prevent any injuries. If it can’t be entirely avoided, changing or tweaking the posture can also be a good idea.
Tai Chi is one of the oldest martial arts out there, with countless benefits that anyone can make use of. With this practice, it leads one to a journey of self-discovery, which will lead to increased happiness.
However, due to the fact that it is quite an ancient art, it can be somewhat hard to find a school or teacher that specializes in it. Fortunately, these aren’t entirely impossible to find; some communities will have more Tai Chi classes than others.
On the other hand, it’s also possible to purchase videos or books that teach you different techniques. It’s also good to remember that even though it’s a slow-paced exercise, injuries are still entirely possible if not done safely and correctly.