What is tai chi?
Tai Chi’s correct name is Tai Chi Chuan and is a form of exercise originating in China. It is beneficial to your health but is perhaps more widely known as a form of self-defence. It helps individuals of any age to improve their health in a physical way but also to meditate. Tai Chi also equips those people with the skills to defend themselves if necessary.
Obviously, if you are interested in this activity, you need to decide what area of Tai Chi you wish to focus on. What are you choose may affect the personal training course you choose. Some instructors may only teach the martial arts aspect whereas another may focus on the health benefits of Tai Chi but some instructors may provide personal training in all aspects of Tai Chi.
You may have seen a group of people in your local park, very early in a morning, practising the Hand Form of the exercise that is made up of a number of slow movements. To many people, this may not really seem to be much of an exercise because it is performed at such a slow, graceful pace.
However, you need to have an understanding of Qi (Chi) energy to realise why the Hand Form is seen as an exercise. Traditional Chinese Medicine has the principals of Yang and Yin at its core. The belief is that pathways holding Qi energy pass through your body but if there were a problem with the Qi energy not flowing how it should, a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine would carry out a procedure to resolve the problem.
Tai Chi encourages this energy’s flow internally in your body by using the movements of the Hand Form in conjunction with natural, relaxed breathing, supported by applying the Qi that focuses the mind.
Apart from this benefit, your muscles are aided in becoming more supple and flexible and the Hand Form exercise also helps you to relax, be calm, focused and reduces your stress levels.
With regard to Tai Chi being used for self defense you should be aware that every Tai Chi movement or stance has either an offensive or defensive purpose. As with the health benefits mentioned above, Yang and Yin play an important part in the martial arts aspect of Tai Chi.
Yang is hard and masculine whereas Yin is soft and feminine. An attacking strike would be deemed to be Yang and Yin would deal with the strike when it is approaching you with a softness resulting in the blow being neutralised. Constantly during the Hand Form process you would alter your posture from Yang to Yin. With good, slow personal training your body will familiarise itself with the changing energy and, over an extended period of training, your reactions in a combative situation can become instinctive.
If you are interested in Tai Chi in any of its forms, consider joining a Tai Chi personal training class near you.