China is famous for two things:
- Martial Arts
Tai Chi or more precisely Tai Chi Chuan is one of the famous martial arts that originated in China. It constitutes more of meditation in the movements, so usually seen as a gentle exercise. The only thing that comes to our minds when we hear “martial-arts” is kicking, punching, breaking stuff, knocking people down and similar things. Tai Chi constitutes of slow and rhythmic movements with deep breathings, a meditation in itself, calming down the whole body and bringing the inner peace.
Tai Chi is often associated with the popular “yin – yang” symbol, which represents two opposite things, positive and negative, merging into each other and at the same time into the null. Practicing Tai Chi helps in the balance between the two opposites. Tai Chi is not just a martial art, it’s a way of life. Based on the type of movements, Tai Chi is classified into various types. Each type includes tens of movements and stances which are smoothly switched into one another while practicing.
Tai Chi has a history of over 2500 years. In Chinese culture, there has been the concept of chi. literally, chi means energy. That energy which drives the body, which keeps it alive and which constantly flows into the body. Wonders can be done by controlling the way chi flows through the body. Tai Chi, in a way teaches how to get inclined with that chi and maximize the benefits. A person is healthy when there’s a smooth flow of chi throughout his body.
Health Benefits of Tai Chi
- Stress Management: Tai Chi includes a lot of movements and you need to flow through them keeping a deep breathing pattern. It relaxes the whole body and the mind. The movements stretch, tense and relax the muscles slowly. With time, the body adapts to this relaxation form, and the mind can achieve it whenever the body needs it.
- With more practice, the nervous system also becomes stronger and so do the reaction time and overall strength of the body.
- It also helps in relaxation from the emotional stress. For example, when you’re worried, your forehead muscles are tensed. When you’re angry, most of the muscles of the body are twitched, burning and wasting the body as well as the mind. Tai Chi induces the relaxation in the muscles and they in turn relax the emotions.
- Mental Stabilization. A normal mind is usually cluttered with a lot of conflicting thoughts. By stabilizing the energy level of the mid, tranquility can be achieved.
- High Blood Pressure is one of the most emerging health problems these days. It happens due to tension in the blood vessels and therefore in the cardiac muscles. As a relaxation inducer, Tai Chi is scientifically found as a tension remover in the blood vessels, improving the blood flow and hence reducing the high blood pressure naturally.
- As it includes a lot of postures, stances and movements, with some of them demanding more balance and coordination between different limbs of the body, it further improves the overall physical performance of the body.
- Sleep tight! Now-a-days, with increasing stress and workload among people, insomnia is becoming a bigger problem. Tai Chi relaxes the body as well as the mind, thus the person is able to sleep properly and recover faster. After all How good it feels to wake up in the morning after a good night’s sleep and feeling full of energy, ready to tackle any problem the day the world could throw to us!
- Health benefits in arthritis. Arthritis is a joint disorder, and it often carries pain and inflammation. The affected person can’t move the joints properly. Tai Chi exercises slowly stretch the muscles and the joints only to the comfort level without creating the over-stretching and thus reducing the pain and inflammation naturally. 15-20 minutes of practice a day would do wonders for the arthritis patients.
Tai Chi as a Self-defense Art:
Back to the main genre of Tai Chi, its use as a self-defense art. It has been used as a martial-art from thousands of years. The main focus is to combine the mind and the body and focus the chi on whatever you want. Dodge the opponent and use his own energy against himself, be it mental of physical – that’s the main strategy of Tai chi. As compared to other martial arts, Tai Chi demands a lot of practice and patience. The practitioner first needs to unify his body and the mind and align them with the chi flowing in the body. Starting from the slow movements, with a complete control over the body and mind, the pace could be gradually increased to cross the limits.
If you want to learn Tai Chi just as a martial art, reconsider it! There are pretty much other easier options available like Karate or Kickboxing or Muay-Thai. Practice of about a year in any of them would give you enough training and knowledge to protect yourself. But, as a long term practitioner, Tai Chi is way more beneficial than other martial arts in terms of its stress-management benefits and other health improvements. Moreover, it’s more versatile in term of age. Anyone can learn and practice Tai Chi. See you at the classes 😉