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Tai Chi and Health

Presently, more and more people are practising tai chi, and they do it for various reasons. Some want to have a better understanding of internal martial arts, some are for self cultivation, there are others who want to reduce stress, and so on. Above all, a lot of people learn tai chi for health reasons. What I would like to do here is to discuss with all of you the impact of tai chi on health.

Chinese Wushu can be separated into internal and external martial arts, and tai chi is considered to be an internal martial art. Because of its unique way of practice which is different from other martial arts practice methods, tai chi is extremely beneficial to the well being of the human body.

When one practises tai chi, the most essential element of focus is intention (yi). All exercises should be performed in a calm and clear state of the mind and body, using one’s mental power to direct the body to create movements. Through practising in this condition for a period of time, tai chi practitioners will be able to develop the ability to attain concentration, maintain a calm and clear mind, and have control of one’s own body.

Another requirement in tai chi practice is “chi sinking into the dan tian”. In other words, exercise of the chest cavity and the abdomen is an important element of tai chi practice. Its emphasis is to “empty the chest and solidify the abdomen”, and use the dan tian ( i.e. center of the human body ) to lead all movements from internal to external, which will lead to enhancing the capacity of the heart and the lungs. Such practice also provides our internal organs a good workout, equivalent to self massage of the torso. In this way, blood circulation will greatly improve, and the internal organs of our body will be strengthened.

A very important qualification of tai chi practice is peng (internal expansion force ), which means the body, in a stretched state full of flexibility, is performing spiral turns and open and closed actions, and silk reeling exercises. Through these movements and actions, the joints, ligaments and muscles will be fully in motion, resulting in big improvement in the stability and flexibility of the body, as well as its responsiveness and coordination.

There are many health benefits in practising tai chi. A lot of researches on this topic have been done in China and in other countries, and the overall findings show that it is a very good sport. Everyone, men and women, aged and young, regardless of their health condition and physical ability, will benefit by practising tai chi. Anyone who takes the step by step approach to learn and practise tai chi, I can assure that you will achieve health.

(Translated by Helen Lau)

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