An Introduction to Tai Chi

Tai chi chuan is a health and meditative exercise. It originated in China. It  is also a powerful  martial art. 

It also will benefit health and aid relaxation. It’s also an effective training exercise for self-defense. Your balance and deep breathing will also improve. Patience is a side benefit. More energy is one of the benefits of a disciplined practitioner of Tai Chi.  

To achieve the most benefit practice on a regular basis. Supplement your practice with lessons with a qualified instructor. This mental and physical focus is important for tai chi as a self-defense.  

Practice your tai chi daily.  Slow and controlled repetition has to become part of your lifestyle. After a while, it will become meditative and relaxing. As a martial artist, you must be able to relax to be effective.

It’s  more likely that you’ll sustain a routine if you are able to find the same time every day to practice. As for any martial art tai chi is a physical and mental discipline. 

You have to be able to inhale during an action step and exhale during a windup and rooting step. Your energy will sink and, as you think about pressure building up, it will release into a blow or kick. At that time your toes root, they relate to your fingers as a blow is delivered. As you practice on a regular basis your body “remembers” how the muscles move. The movements are efficient because you have “muscle memory”. Think of a piano player who is practicing the scales. The movement has become automatic.

To develop and control your own power enables you to deliver blows and kicks with efficiency.  This means that there are no wasted moves and no waste of energy.  When your muscles tense your movements are slower, and your waste energy. The blow or strike must be able to channel as much of your body power as it can. 

Many martial artists and practitioners of Tai Chi call it an  “Ultimate Self-defense”. In reality, there is no magic to the effectiveness of Tai Chi as a martial art.   Any effective martial artist cannot get tense when in combat.

Anyone who is not used to getting hit will tense up.  This makes the martial artist inefficient when they’re  actually fighting and getting hit. Therefore, you need sparring experience to be most effective. You must be able to deliver blocks and blows with speed,  agility, and power from any angle or position. Also ducking is good! Ducking or neutralizing occurs as you are positioned by an incoming blow, push, or kick. You are avoiding getting struck while at the same time becoming fueled to strike back.

If a grown man of 180 lbs., or heavier, the man strikes someone with all his weight, they’re likely to hurt that person. In combat you must deliver a blow with power.  You must be able to react during an attack.

This theory holds true for many situations that have nothing to do with physical fighting.  it is the same in business, sports, and any other high-pressure situation.  

After the forms become reflexive you can begin to “push hands”. Push hands help the tai chi student to enhance their balance. The student uses the body the same way he uses it in the forms. Your muscles must relax during push hands exercises. And you must relax as a martial artist. To neutralize a punch or kick your muscles must relax. You must be flexible.

The pushing hands exercise teaches you to move. As it’s important to avoid a push or, later, avoiding a punch or kick by moving away.  

You learn to neutralize blows and kicks. You move with the force that is coming toward you. Here you are not matching your power against incoming power. You are moving so there is no resistance. In other words the incoming force fuels your response force.

 You move away or yield as energy in a punch moves in your direction. You move at the same speed and intensity as his blow or energy comes into you.  Your counter-punch or kick is fueled by the punch or kick coming at you. It returns at the same speed and power that it comes toward you. 

Only when you aren’t tense can you respond.


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