Tai Chi

What is Tai Chi Chuan

Though Tai Chi Chuan in its purest form is considered to be one of the highest accomplishments of Chinese Martial arts, it has gained popularity in the West as ‘meditation in motion’ which is easily recognised by its slow and graceful movements and is more known for its health benefits than its efficacy as a fighting system.

Tai Chi has become popular as a low impact exercise system which focuses on structure and the development of stabilising muscles and myofascial slings, allowing the practitioner to optimally exploit tensegrity principles when manifesting or redirecting physical power.

As a physically and mentally challenging system rich in philosophical martial approach, Tai Chi finds relevance in the way we approach the challenges of every-day life on multiple levels

Tai Chi has become known for the many health benefits it bestows on its practitioners. 

 

Contents of YMAA Yang Style Taijiquan training

At YMAA we teach Yang Style Taijiquan as passed on by Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming and the curriculum includes:

Barehand

Taiji Solo Sequence, Applications from the Solo Sequence, Still Meditation, Qi Circulation Training, Jin Training, Pushing Hands and its Applications, Taiji Fighting Set and Deeper Martial Applications, Taiji Free Pushing Hands and Sparring.

Taiji Sword

Taiji Sword Solo Sequence, Martial Applications, Matching Forms, Sparring.

Taiji Saber

Taiji Saber Solo Sequence, Martial Applications, Matching Forms and Sparring.

Taiji Spear and Staff

Individual Spear and Staff Martial Techniques, Sticking and Matching Practice, Long Weapons Sparring

Taiji Ball

Listening and Understanding Jin Training, Adhere-Stick Jin Training, Qi Enhancement and Extension Training, Two-person Taiji Ball Training.

 

Benefits of Practicing Tai Chi Chuan

The following is an except from an article published by Harvard Medical School:

When combined with standard treatment, tai chi appears to be helpful for several medical conditions. For example:

Arthritis. In a 40-person study at Tufts University, presented in October 2008 at a meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, an hour of tai chi twice a week for 12 weeks reduced pain and improved mood and physical functioning more than standard stretching exercises in people with severe knee osteoarthritis. According to a Korean study published in December 2008 in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, eight weeks of tai chi classes followed by eight weeks of home practice significantly improved flexibility and slowed the disease process in patients with ankylosing spondylitis, a painful and debilitating inflammatory form of arthritis that affects the spine.

Low bone density. A review of six controlled studies by Dr. Wayne and other Harvard researchers indicates that tai chi may be a safe and effective way to maintain bone density in postmenopausal women. A controlled study of tai chi in women with osteopenia (diminished bone density not as severe as osteoporosis) is under way at the Osher Research Center and Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Breast cancer. Tai chi has shown potential for improving quality of life and functional capacity (the physical ability to carry out normal daily activities, such as work or exercise) in women suffering from breast cancer or the side effects of breast cancer treatment. For example, a 2008 study at the University of Rochester, published in Medicine and Sport Science, found that quality of life and functional capacity (including aerobic capacity, muscular strength, and flexibility) improved in women with breast cancer who did 12 weeks of tai chi, while declining in a control group that received only supportive therapy.

Heart disease. A 53-person study at National Taiwan University found that a year of tai chi significantly boosted exercise capacity, lowered blood pressure, and improved levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin, and C-reactive protein in people at high risk for heart disease. The study, which was published in the September 2008 Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, found no improvement in a control group that did not practice tai chi.

Heart failure. In a 30-person pilot study at Harvard Medical School, 12 weeks of tai chi improved participants’ ability to walk and quality of life. It also reduced blood levels of B-type natriuretic protein, an indicator of heart failure. A 150-patient controlled trial is under way.

Hypertension. In a review of 26 studies in English or Chinese published in Preventive Cardiology (Spring 2008), Dr. Yeh reported that in 85% of trials, tai chi lowered blood pressure — with improvements ranging from 3 to 32 mm Hg in systolic pressure and from 2 to 18 mm Hg in diastolic pressure.

Parkinson’s disease. A 33-person pilot study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, published in Gait and Posture (October 2008), found that people with mild to moderately severe Parkinson’s disease showed improved balance, walking ability, and overall well-being after 20 tai chi sessions.

Sleep problems. In a University of California, Los Angeles, study of 112 healthy older adults with moderate sleep complaints, 16 weeks of tai chi improved the quality and duration of sleep significantly more than standard sleep education. The study was published in the July 2008 issue of the journal Sleep.

Stroke. In 136 patients who’d had a stroke at least six months earlier, 12 weeks of tai chi improved standing balance more than a general exercise program that entailed breathing, stretching, and mobilizing muscles and joints involved in sitting and walking. Findings were published in the January 2009 issue of Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair.

The Chinese characters for Tai Chi Chuan (also written as Taijiquan) can be translated as the ‘Supreme Ultimate Fist’. The concept of ‘supreme ultimate’ is often associated with the Chinese concept of yin-yang, this exhibits the understanding that one can see a dynamic duality (male/female, active/passive, dark/light, forceful/yielding, etc.) in all things.

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