What is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi originates from 13th century China as a self-defence Martial Art, however today it is typically practiced for its health benefits. Tai Chi promotes the use of internal energy (or Qi) and focusses on developing suppleness of the body incorporating elegant, slow and soft movements. The poses should flow smoothly one into another, many are based around a squat like position.
As with most Martial Arts there are many different styles including yang, chen and wu. However, they all have historical origins in one of the oldest traditional family styles of Chen. Teachers may favour one or a combination of Tai Chi styles. The main differences between them are the basic postures and the speed of movement.
Why should I go to Tai Chi classes?
Tai Chi classes place emphasis on health benefits both physical and mental. A gentle form of exercise comprising mainly of stretching which can benefit those who practice almost immediately. Other reasons to join a Tai Chi class include:
- Increase confidence and self esteem
- Build muscle strength and overall fitness
- Improve balance and posture
- Aid flexibility and mobility
- Enhances mindfulness
- Reduces stress and promotes relaxation
- A fun social activity
What will I learn from Tai Chi classes?
Tai Chi classes teach free-flowing movements that help you gently exercise muscles and joints without the heavy impact that other exercises can have on the body. A focus on breathing techniques promote relaxation relieving stress and pressure on both the body and mind. Philosophy also plays an important role when learning this Martial Art.
What are the Tai Chi belts?
Some traditional practitioners feel a Tai Chi grading system goes against the idea of ‘there is no end to learning’ a phrase that sits comfortably with the Tai Chi philosophy. There are teachers who choose to follow similar ranking systems of other Chinese Martial Arts. The ‘Dan’ levels of expertise are as follows:
1. White Sash
2. Yellow Sash
3. Orange Sash
4. Green Sash
5. Blue Sash
6. Brown Sash
7. Black Sash
Who can take up Tai Chi classes?
Anyone of any age, ability or gender can take up Tai Chi classes although their popularity lies with the older community because of the vast amount of health benefits generated from a low impact exercise. It gently increases muscle strength, personal stability and balance without putting pressure on bones and joints. Tai Chi is ideal for those looking to raise their activity levels gradually.
There are those that say Tai Chi decreases recovery time in those who have suffered from strokes or heart attacks. It is also said to improve conditions in people with Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s.