Tai Chi Chuan
David Jackson has been teaching Tai-Chi for over 25 years. During that time he has developed a slow relaxed style of Tai-Chi which suits both the physically active and the more sedate student.
Inyoshin TaiChi emphasises relaxation as a key tool to developing and maintaining both physical and mental skills. Students are taught to “go at their own pace” TaiChi is as varied as the number of people wishing to learn. Each student is empowered to take responsibility for their own progress.
Inyoshin Teachers all teach the same basic consistent form; this is then used as the foundation for individuals to further develop during personal training. David would describe it thus, “Like great tenors singing the same aria, it’s the same song but one can easily differentiate between them as they make the song their own” Understanding the basic’s is in fact liberating!
David has an in depth knowledge of the original fighting roots of the art and reminds students of the importance of understanding the original intention of the movements. This gives advanced students the opportunity to use this knowledge in visualisation during practice.
The 24 form style of TaiChi taught by Inyoshin teachers is based on the “Beijing Short Form” which was developed, by the Chinese government in the 1950’s, to help maintain the health of the nation. We also practice, Eight fine treasures, Silk Reeling, Chi Gung and Push / Sticking Hands exercises. Inyoshin TaiChi works with Local Authorities and Charity groups teaching TaiChi to varied groups of students. We have recently been teaching a sitting TaiChi form as a response to the number of physically challenged student wanting to learn this wonderful art form. The sitting form does require movement of the arms and body above the waist.
Tai Chi for Health Purposes
Tai Chi (pronounced “tie chee” and also known by some other names and spellings is a mind-body practice that originated in China as a martial art. A person doing Tai Chi moves the body slowly and gently, while breathing deeply and meditating. Tai Chi is sometimes called “moving meditation”. Many practitioners believe that Tai Chi helps the flow throughout the body of a proposed vital energy called Qi (pronounced “chee,” it means “air” or “power”). In traditional Chinese medicine, the vital energy or life force proposed to regulate a person’s spiritual, emotional, mental and physical health and to be influenced by the opposing forces of yin and yang. Among the different names and spellings of Tai Chi are taiji and t’ai chi. The term “tai chi” is a shortened form of “tai chi chuan” (two other spellings are t’ai chi ch’uan and taijiquan).
- Many people who practice Tai Chi do so to improve one or more aspects of their health and to stay healthy.
- Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.
A Description of Tai Chi
Tai Chi developed in China in about the 12th century A.D. It started as a martial art or a practice for fighting or self-defense, usually without weapons. Over time, people began to use tai chi for health purposes as well. Many different styles of tai chi, and variations of each style, developed. The term “tai chi” has been translated in various ways, such as “internal martial art,” “supreme ultimate boxing,” “boundless fist,” and “balance of the opposing forces of nature.” While accounts of Tai Chi’s history often differ, the most consistently important figure is a Taoist monk (and semi-legendary figure) in 12th-century China named Chang San-Feng (or Zan Sanfeng). Chang is said to have observed five animals—Tiger, Dragon, Leopard, Snake, and Crane—and to have concluded that the snake and the crane, through their movements, were the ones most able to overcome strong, unyielding opponents. Chang developed an initial set of exercises that imitated the movements of animals. He also brought flexibility and suppleness in place of strength to the martial arts, as well as some key philosophical concepts.
A person practicing Tai Chi moves his/her body in a slow, relaxed, and graceful series of movements. One can practice on one’s own or in a group. The movements make up what are called forms (or routines). Some movements are named for animals or birds, such as “White Crane Spreads Its Wings.” The simplest style of tai chi uses 13 movements; more complex styles can have dozens. Inyoshin Tai Chi has 24 steps or forms.
In tai chi, each movement flows into the next. The entire body is always in motion, with the movements performed gently and at uniform speed. It is considered important to keep the body upright, especially the upper body-many tai chi practitioners use the image of a string that goes from the top of the head into the heavens-and to let the body’s weight sink to the soles of the feet.
In addition to movement, two other important elements in tai chi are breathing and meditation – a conscious mental process using certain techniques—such as focusing attention or maintaining a specific posture—to suspend the stream of thoughts and relax the body and mind.
In Tai Chi practice, it is considered important to concentrate; put aside distracting thoughts and breathe in a deep, relaxed, and focused manner. Practitioners believe that this breathing and meditation have many benefits, such as:
Massaging the internal organs. – Aiding the exchange of gases in the lungs.
Helping the digestive system work better. – Increasing calmness and awareness.
Other Key concepts in Tai Chi
Certain concepts from Chinese Taoist philosophy were important in Tai Chi’s development. It is not necessary for a person who practices Tai Chi for health purposes to believe any of the concepts however, they are a useful tool to aid the understanding of some elements of Tai Chi. Inyoshin Tai Chi is not a belief system nor should it challenge or contradict your own specific belief system. Some Taoist concepts are as follows:
- A vital energy called Qi underlies all living things.
- Qi flows in people through specific channels called meridians.
- Qi is important in health and disease.
- Tai chi is a practice that supports, unblocks, and redirects the flow of Qi.
Another Taoist concept in Tai Chi is that the forces of yin and yang, the concept of two opposing yet complementary forces described in traditional Chinese medicine. Yin represents cold, slow, or passive aspects of the person, while yang represents hot, excited, or active aspects. A major theory is that health is achieved through balancing yin and yang and disease is caused by an imbalance leading to a blockage in the flow of Qi. In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang are two principles or elements that make up the universe and everything in it and that also oppose each other. Yin is believed to have the qualities of water—such as coolness, darkness, stillness, and inward and downward directions—and to be feminine in character. Yang is believed to have the qualities of fire—such as heat, light, action, and upward and outward movement—and to be masculine. In this belief system, people’s yin and yang need to be in balance in order for them to be healthy, and Tai Chi is a practice that supports this balance.
Specific Health Purposes
People practice tai chi for various health purposes, such as:
- For benefits from exercise:
- Tai chi is a low-impact form of exercise.
- It is a weight-bearing exercise that can have certain health benefits—for example, to the bones.
- It is an aerobic exercise.
- To improve physical condition, muscle strength, coordination, and flexibility.
- To have better balance and a lower risk for falls, especially in elderly people.
- To ease pain and stiffness—for example, from arthritis.
- For health benefits that may be experienced from meditation.
- To improve sleep.
- For overall wellness.
Side Effects and Risks
Tai chi is a relatively safe practice. However, there are some cautions.
- Tell your health care provider if you are considering learning tai chi for health purposes (especially if you have a health condition for which you are being treated, if you have not exercised in a while, or if you are an older person).
- If you do not position your body properly in tai chi or if you overdo practice, you may get sore muscles or sprains.
- Tai chi instructors often recommend that people not practice tai chi right after they eat, or when they are very tired, or when they have an active infection.
- Use caution if you have any of the conditions listed below, as your health care provider should advise you whether to modify or avoid certain postures in tai chi:
- Joint problems, back pain, sprains, a fracture, or severe osteoporosis
- Tai Chi should not be used to replace conventional medical care or to delay seeking that care.
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