Why T’ai Chi
13 Hot Questions You Always Wanted To Ask About T’ai Chi?
Q1: What is T’ai Chi?
T’ai Chi in the West has often been associated with “HEALTH”, which encompasses physical, mental, philosophical and spiritual. T’hi Chi with its gentle movements is known to combat stress; it is a very good form of relaxation or “meditation in motion”, an effective martial art and self defence and above all improves balance and fall prevention in mature people.
Q2. How will T’ai Chi benefit me?
Through practicing T’ai Chi, the body gradually learns to be flexible and softens, the mind follows. The mind is then unhindered by memories of the past and mystery of the future events. This is a more “natural state” of mind. This mindfulness helps you to see clearly and yield in the face of difficulties.
Q3. Is there any research about the health benefits of T’ai Chi?
Yes. There is a great deal of empirical research on the effectiveness of T’ai Chi in maintaining and balancing a good physical and mental health. Simply Google or see “T’aichi” in top menu.
Q4. What happens in a T’ai Chi class?
First of all you meet many like-minded people. Most classes start with gentle stretching or warm up exercises. These exercises loosen the body, relax the mind, improve flexibility, balance and build up sensitivity and awareness of your body. Hidden in these exercises are the essence of T’ai Chi and being soft rather than hard and unyielding.
In most classes a “T’ai Chi form” will be taught. A form is a combination of movements initially developed by a Grand Master, and then passed on to his senior students and then taught to you movement by movement. The form is not the end; it is only a tool to practice the essence of T’ai Chi.
Many additional exercises go on in the class such as: partner work, sticking, yielding, pushing hands, roots testing, chi walking, martial applications which involve you to work with other students. They are all good fun.
Q5. How long does it take to learn the form?
That depends on you and how much commitment you are prepared to make each week. Normally a short form takes about a year or so to learn and another further year or so to internalise and make it your own so you do not become your teacher’s carbon copy. Of course you can learn the choreography of a form in two/three months of intensive work. This is what I call “Surface Learning”.
In feudal China, a potential student used to sleep outside the Master’s house for one year before they got permission to see the Master. Just imagine if one sleeps outside the wrong door all that time too?
Q6. Are there any rules to follow inside the class?
I have some “Cool Rules” in my classes. Some of these Cool Rules have been suggested by my students. We are constantly learning from each other.
A) All students to “under-perform” by 24% in my classes. For example: if they can reach and touch their toes or knees, they aim to do less by 24%. We have a lot of fun with this. After all we are looking for a progression and not perfection to start. I will tell why 24% and not 25%, but not here.
B) We encourage everybody to sit when they are tired. After all it is not a contest or competition.
C) We practice softness to accumulate softness. None of those hard external martial kicks or punches?
D) We are kind to ourselves. If we cannot do a movement at that moment so what? No need to get cross with ourselves.
E) We need to maintain a sense of humour and enjoyment.
F) We practice “Mono Tasking” and NOT “Multi Tasking”. E.g. NO walking and texting simultaneously.
Q7. I can’t lie on the floor or Yoga mat. Can I still practice T’ai Chi?
Yes. You do not need a Yoga mat or to lie on the floor to practice T’ai Chi.
Q8. Do I need to wear a Chinese uniform or Kung-fu soft shoes?
No. You do not need any uniform, coloured belts, Chinese silk shirts or even Kung-fu soft shoes. The beauty of T’ai Chi is that you can exercise barefooted as long as you are not diabetic. Feel the grass underneath your feet and sun on your back (use your imagination for the last one). It is all about celebrating your achievements internally and not wearing any external marking or ranking.
P.S. Diabetic people know that any injuries to their body’s extremity may take longer to heal.
Q9. Are there many styles of T’ai Chi?
Yes. There are three main styles: Yang, Chen and Wu and then there are internal martial arts and external ones which can be very confusing for newcomers. You should not worry about it as Chairman Mao Said: “Let a thousand flowers blossom”.
Q10. Do I lose weight or would my headache go away?
The answer is probably not. What you achieve is good balance, coordination and good breathing habits. Further to this, you develop your stabilising muscles, good body mechanics and postural stability, good martial art and self defence abilities and above all general well being mentally and physically.
Q11. I am 85 years old. Can I learn?
Yes you can. My oldest student was 105 when she was learning T’ai Chi? She died at the age of 107. What I learnt from her was; one of the keys to longevity is not to give up on learning.
Q12. Can I buy a book or DVD and not bother with attending a class?
Register in a local class, feel the energy of a good teacher and other learners around you. Breathe together; fly like a flock of birds together as you are moving through these gentle and beautiful movements. Books and DVDs can be useful as supplementary tools but not as the main learning resource in this case.
Q13. How do I start?
Head for your nearest T’ai Chi class, talk to teacher, seek their permission to attend a session and judge for yourself. See if you like the teacher, their style of teaching, the group, and the environment. Look particularly to see if they practice “soft” T’ai Chi? or if they have “Cool Rules”? Do your research and as they say: “A thousand mile journey starts with its first step”. Enjoy the journey.
The Essence of T’ai Chi Ch’uan - The Literary Tradition, Lo/Inn /Amacker/Foe (trans.), North Atlantic Books (1979).
Risk of Falling for Mature People
Some Headline Facts:
101 Amazing Ways to Reduce STRESS
“Courtesy of the Tripler Army Medical Centre, Honolulu, Hawaii”
Welcome To South London T’ai Chi
T’ai Chi is the ancient Chinese art of moving meditation
T’ai Chi relaxes mind/body and releases stress
180 million people worldwide practice T’ai Chi every day
Other exercises dissipate your energy, while T’ai Chi accumulates it, leaving you feeling refreshed
There are many empirical research conducted by the universities and other reputable organisations around the globe in effectiveness of Taichi in maintaining and balancing a good physical and mental health.