One of the oldest civilization of the world, the land of mountain forest, China is an ocean of various forms of prowess both to enhance the peaceful sense of mind and the physical endurance. Another such form of martial arts that originated in China is the ‘Tai Chi’. Tai Chi Chuan can be translated as ‘Supreme Ultimate Force’ which can be associated to the Chinese concept of yin-yang. Tai Chi is an internal Chinese martial arts practice both for the defense training and its health benefits. It is a martial art form with hard and soft techniques which are performed in slow continuity. To understand the meaning of Tai Chi in depth and to learn more about what it offers, glance through.
The Meaning Of Tai Chi
The practice of Tai Chi was created by Zhang Sanfeng, a martial artist who lived in China in the late 16th century. Sanfeng was said to have dreamt about a snake and a crane engaged in a battle. The graceful moves of both snake and crane in that battle inspired Sanfeng to develop his non-combative style of martial arts. This ancient form of martial arts has been practiced in China since centuries and still forms the part of the daily routine of thousands of people there, especially the elderly. Tai Chi was first introduced to United States in early 1970s and since then has gained immense popularity.
- One of the averred aims of Tai Chi is to advance the circulation of Chi (force) within the body. The belief behind this practice is that Tai Chi enhances the vitality and health of a person. The circulation of the Chi in this practice is closely related to the nervous and vascular system and therefore it provides all the benefits which the practice of acupuncture and other oriental healing arts will provide.
- Another aim of Tai Chi is to foster and promote a placid and calm mind that focuses on the precise and clear execution of these exercises. A proper knowledge of the execution of these exercises will teach a person the art of balance, alignment, rhythm of movement and will also improve the motor skills of a person. Therefore, the practice of Tai Chi is also believed to be more beneficial for the elderly as it will help them stand, walk, move and run better.
Types of Tai Chi
- Yang style involves 24 movements in its simple form and 108 movements in its traditional form. Yang is a demanding form of Tai Chi because to perform this form you need to keep your stance wide and your knees bent most of the time.
- The Wu style of Tai Chi incorporates 24-36 moves in its shorter form and 100 moves in its traditional form within it. It is a much gentler form than the yang because of its narrow and high posture where the knees are not bent as much as in the yang style. This style of Tai Chi is the easiest among the other two forms because of its high stance. It is also one of the best ways to improve your balance and motor skills.
- Tai Chi Chih is the third form of Tai Chi which includes 20 movements and also uses higher stance, but with lesser transfer of weight from one leg to another than the other two forms of Tai Chi.
Components Of Tai Chi
Tai Chi is a martial art form that uses together all the major muscle groups for the slow and gentle movements that it involves. This low-impact, weight-bearing exercise helps in improving the sense of balance, flexibility and coordination in a person. it also helps in strengthening the bone structure, improving agility and stamina in a person who practices this art form regularly.
Tai Chi is also a form of meditation that helps in soothing our mind driving it away from anxiety and tension, enhancing the levels of concentration in a person and keeping the blood pressure and heart rate under check.
Tai Chi also facilitates the process of proper breathing in a person. it helps the person to exhale all the toxins from the lungs and inhale plenty of fresh air. This exercise which Tai Chi provides enhances the lung capacity, stretches the muscles involved in breathing and helps in releasing any form of tension. Tai Chi also helps in improving blood circulation to the brain boosting mental alertness. The practice of Tai Chi also provides the body with fresh oxygen and nutrients.
Balance And Falling
One of the glaring benefits of practicing Tai Chi is the improvement of the sense of balance. Tai Chi movements being slow and deliberate with shifts of body weights from one leg to another in coordination with the upper body, it challenges the body balance and helps in improving it. This further helps in lowering the fall-related injuries in old people.
Practice of Tai Chi does not alone improve balance and reduces the injuries from falling; it also brings down the frequency of fear of falling. It provides the person the confidence of not falling and also helps in improving the self-confidence of a person in general.
Strength And Endurance
A Tai Chi practice by elderly also helps in providing them greater muscular strength, stronger bone structures and more flexibility, stamina and agility. Tai Chi is a potent intervention that improves balance, upper and lower body strength and endurance and provides flexible and stable old age.
- Relaxes body and mind by reducing anxiety
- Uses diaphragm to improve lung function
- Calms down and cures the nervous system
- Enhances the function of internal organs
- Strengthens the immune system