Tai Chi Chuan is an ancient Chinese health exercise and martial art.
It is said that practitioners derive many benefits thought to be magical, however, on a practical basis, studies support the benefits of consistent practice. Not magical ……..just beneficial. Tai Chi can be learned by anyone at any age with consistent practice. To get a beginning overview, read the following 5 steps:
The 5 Step Overview
1. Relax: mentally & physically: Start your tai chi exercise with a Taoist meditation exercise, this helps you relax so that your thoughts becomes focused. As your mind sheds extraneous and distracting thoughts you are ready to practice the tai chi form. Renowned Grandmaster Professor Chen Man Ch’ing’s Taoist simple and easy to follow Taoist meditation exercise is a good beginning and it only takes a few minutes of practice to learn.
a) Form your fingers with your index finger curved and moving in a circular path toward the tip of your nose…..and do this with each hand gently massaging each closed eyeball; Massage the eyeball with the index finger moving toward the nose in a circular and downward motion. Do this 12 times using both hands over each of both eyes at the same time.
b) Afterwards rub your hands back and forth together (palm facing palm). The palms will get warm.
c) Place each of the warmed-up palms over each of the closed eyes for a minute… This is an effective Taoist or chi-kung meditation technique that reduces stress, , and will help to enhance your coordination …both working at the same time.
Meditation exercises enhance breathe control and helps let the tai chi practitioner focus on their “tan tien”, which is a point located two inches below the naval; it’s considered to be the foundation of rooting, breathing, and body awareness, as the physical center of gravity of the human body.
The “tan tien” is the seat of one’s internal energy or “chi”; it’s a focus point that is located about two inches below the navel. Deep breathing and meditation exercises are consistent and helpful when they are coordinated with the slow and steady movements of the tai chi chuan form. This enhances this internal energy, or chi, flow. When practiced regularly your palms will feel heat, your legs will strengthen, and a feeling of calmness will be the results. Grandmaster William C.C. Chen’s 60 Postures is a complete form that provide this well-being. In the beginning of study, particularly for seniors, an abbreviated version, which was developed specifically for seniors would be beneficial.
2) Consistent practice .Practice about 10 minutes the same time every day. The consistency of the motions will help you feel more comfortable being “single-weighted”, of the weight will be placed on one foot at a time. Since tai chi chuan is practiced as a martial art the body’s muscles must get used to move in a coordinated way. Practicing the form develops muscle memory, which involves consolidating a specific motor task into memory through repetition. When a movement is repeated over time, a long-term muscle memory is created for that task, eventually allowing it to be performed without conscious effort. You will see long term benefits, that studies show how people have benefited who have bad knees, arthritis, asthma, and balance problems.
3) Everyday Applications .In a class of seniors that I was teaching, 70 year old women mentioned that she had no interest in being a martial artist. She was then asked if she ever had difficulty opening a heavy door or walking on uneven ground, she said of course. The tai chi movements and body mechanics needed for martial artists also are needed for every day physical needs. Self defense is an obvious benefit…..not so obvious is learning how to apply these “body mechanics” to walking more quickly and evenly, opening a heavy door, or lifting a heavy suitcase. Proper and regular Tai Chi Chuan practice will harness your strengths and enable more relaxed and effective results.
4) Breathe Control, Balance, and Meditation. Breathe Control is important as you learn to exhale fully.Breathe deeply as part of the tai chi form. Balance is enhanced the more you practice the form since your forms are “single weighted”, your weight is unevenly distributed with the weight primarily distributed on one foot at a time… Meditation can be a focus by practicing the forms more slowly or repeat the forms a many times. It becomes easier to practice the forms; the more you will practice them ……..and it feels good.
5) Martial Art: directing your Chi or Energy. By constant practice of the forms you develop “muscle memory” ….your body gets used to moving in a specific way. “Pushing hands”, is a tai chi practice exercise that helps build balance awareness by practicing with a partner ….pushing but not moving your feet or avoid pushes is an exercise and martial arts competition. This is great training for actual sparring Consistent practice will, over a period of time, helps develop your “chi”.
Each of us has an ability to channel the energy, or “chi” flow in our bodies. The key to effectiveness is to learn how to move with muscles relaxed, although not limp. When our muscles are relaxed, we are able to move quicker…….blows are more powerful the quicker we can move. Practicing the tai chi forms leads to developing more speed.
These techniques and the philosophy or this ancient Chinese martial art will be explained in a clear language so that anyone can follow and benefit.