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March 24, 2008

Tai Chi 101

Tai chi was developed in China in the 1300s as a martial art, not unlike karate and judo, which were used for self-defense. It evolved into a technique for promoting health, and meditation with people using it primarily for its health benefits. A person studies Tai chi, takes classes, and then performs it on one's own. It can be used for the general harmonizing and balancing of the body and is wonderful for stress management and many illnesses. Tai chi translated means, “supreme ultimate”.

Karate: [ kə'rɑ:ti ]
n. 空手道

judo: [ 'dʒu:dəu ]
n. 柔道

supreme: [ sju:'pri:m ]
a. 最高的
[形容词比较级supremer 形容词最高级supremest 名词supremeness]

ultimate: [ 'ʌltimit ]
n. 终极,根本
a. 终极的,根本的,极限的,最后的

The central element of the practice is the 'internal discipline' that dictates how a movement should be made from the internal core of the body, the abdomen and the back, not from the external parts of the body, such as arms and shoulders. This discipline is essential to gain the full health benefits of Tai Chi.

Initially there is some awkwardness, the same as learning any new thing. After some facility is gained though, it becomes quite magical whether or not you are "pushing hands" and engaging in an energy conversation with someone else or whether you are practicing the solo form.

The yin and yang of tai chi is the feeling of excited and calm, exercising and relaxed, soft and powerful, yielding and overcoming, and not moving in movement are a few of the opposites which occur simultaneously. This very interesting exercise, while never boring, is challenging. It challenges your preconceived way of being in relationship to gravity, your physical self, your mind, and with other people.

Health benefits of Tai Chi? Tai Chi is a way to learn how to relax and concentrate intensely at the same time while actually using your body. There are many people who are turned off to the idea of meditation, or are just too wired to try to meditate. Those people tend to want a physical basis for the relaxation practice. It can be focused around a specific symptom, so it could be someone who has a headache problem or an acid reflux problem for example or one of the many other problems that are related to a high level of stress.

Much like yoga, there are many different styles of tai chi. Some have fast movements and are more martial arts-type movements. Some of them are done more slowly and gently. Check with your local martial arts instructors and ask what kind of Tai Chi they offer for your age and fitness level.

There actually have been studies now with the elderly and Tai Chi to show that it has helped elderly balance problems. In cases of osteoporosis, it helps strengthen the bones. Because of the relaxation aspect, it can help with stress-related problems like high blood pressure. Because it is low-impact, it can help lubricate your joints and strengthen your body in a way that's not as harmful as maybe running or some high-impact exercises. Tai chi is wonderful at any age. Many older people practice it twice a day in China.

When you practice Tai Chi wear comfortable clothing and a flat shoe or sneaker. There are traditional Chinese uniforms, but usually in tai chi schools they are a little more relaxed than some of the other martial arts. So, find a Tai Chi video at the library, or rent one to see if this is something that feels good to you. At first it may feel very awkward, but not painful. To your health!

More entries: Tai Chi 101, Drunk Performers, The Place of Chan in Post-Modern Europe, 各种名词的英文表达法, Zen, vocabulary, Language Assessment, Astrologer AD, Suppose, Toefl ready

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