About Tai Chi & Qigong
What is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi has several different names. You may have Tai Chi referred to as Taiji, Tai Chi Chuan, or even 'shadowboxing'. Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that dates back to the 16th Century, and has roots in fighting systems as early as the 5th Century. Some say it was originally practiced by monks and imperial guards to train self defence and improve their martial combat.
Over the centuries, it has grown and developed into much more than a form of self defence. It is now practised by millions of people all over the world as a form of meditation, exercise, and spiritual practice, making it one of the most popular activities worldwide.
What are the different forms of Tai Chi?
There are several different forms of Tai Chi, but all modern forms of Tai Chi stem from the five traditional schools of Tai Chi: Yang, Wu, Wu Hao, Sun and Chen. I specialise in Chen style Tai Chi.
What is Chen style Tai Chi?
Chen style Tai Chi originated in the Chen Village in China. The martial art has been developed and practised by the Chen family, who first created this style of Tai Chi. My Grandmaster, Chen Zhenglei, is a 19th Generation member of the ancient Chen family, and 11th generation transmitter of Chen Style Tai Chi.
Chen Style Tai Chi uses an mix of slow and fast movements, silk reeling, and powerful bursts of speed and energy using the entire body, involving jumps, leaps, kicks and a comprehensive range of traditional long and short range weapons.
What is Qigong?
Qigong (pronounced chee-gong) involves coordinated, purposeful and flowing postures and movements. Qigong focuses on movement, breathing and meditation, with it's roots founded in, and complementing Traditional Chinese Medicine. The driving forces behind Tai Chi & Qigong are the cultivation of Qi energy, however, Qigong was not developed as a martial art.
What does Qigong do?
Practitioners of Qigong use these exercises to improve and balance their qi or chi, otherwise known as 'life energy'. The practice of Qigong is thought to help people with various ailments and injuries in their recovery and management of symptoms, but is also practiced by many simply for its calming effect.
Whilst clinical research is beginning to find evidence to support these claims, it is widely practised in China and by many people around the world for its health benefits. Personally, I find it relaxing and helps me feel balanced - but whether you believe in Chi / Life Energy or not, it is a relaxing, meditative exercise. All of the Qigong Masters that I have trained with are living proof of the fantastic levels of health and fitness that can achieved through Qigong exercises, regardless of age and gender.
Who is Tai Chi & Qigong for?
Tai Chi and Qigong are for everybody. They are inclusive exercises and meditation methods, that anybody is welcome to practice. Whilst there is a sense of spirituality attached to Tai Chi & Qigong, you do not have to be an avid meditator, you do not have to be religious, or spiritual, to enjoy the benefits of Tai Chi or Qigong.
Tai Chi is suitable for everybody, and no matter who you are, you will probably find some benefits from practising Tai Chi (See below).
If you're someone who experiences joint pain, stiffness, mobility issues, or injuries, Tai Chi & Qigong can ease pain, improve balance, help with injury recovery, and some go as far as to say it helps them with ailments and illness.
If you're someone who lives and active lifestyle, then Tai Chi is for you. Professional athletes and sportspeople find Tai Chi to be a good exercise to strengthen the entire body, without being stressful, strenuous or time consuming. If you're someone who regularly walks, or plays sports sports casually, then Tai Chi can help you keep on top of your fitness... and you can do it from the comfort of your home.
What are the benefits of Tai Chi & Qigong?
Ask anybody what the benefits of Tai Chi & Qigong are, and you'll probably get different answers. Some practice Tai Chi because it is good for the body, some practise Tai Chi because it is good for the mind, and some practise Tai Chi because it is good for the spirit. Some will say it's a combination.
Tai Chi's benefits for your body
Like most martial arts, Tai Chi is an exercise. Not only that, but it is a whole-body exercise. The postures and movements are sure to work every muscle in your body, with a much lower risk of injury than other exercises. Often, practitioners of Tai Chi say these are the benefits of Tai Chi:
Stronger muscles, joints and bones
Reduced stiffness, joint pain, and muscle fatigue
Improved balance, coordination and mobility
Better lung capacity and clearer airways
Complements an active lifestyle, and improves performance in other sports
Practitioners live longer and healthier lives, feeling younger and rejuvenated
Tai Chi's benefits for your mind
Tai Chi is a good exercise, but is also a form of meditation. Tai Chi uses slow, purposeful movements, so if you're someone who wants to meditate but can't keep still, Tai Chi is a good option for you. Meditation is good for you. It's been shown to help reduce stress levels, boost happiness, and to help you achieve a sense of peace, which is particularly important in our increasingly busy lives. Here are some of the benefits of Tai Chi for the mind:
Meditation helps you relax and de-stress
Tai Chi helps you feel focussed and motivated
Helps boost happiness
Improved cognitive function and multi-tasking
Tai Chi has been linked to a reduced risk of dementia
Helps you find peace and tranquillity
Tai Chi's benefits for the spirit
Tai Chi practises, particularly silk reeling and Qigong, are thought to help you on your spiritual journey. The exercise is rooted in Chinese tradition, and as such, many people believe that practising Tai Chi helps us stay grounded in the modern world. Many people find practising Tai Chi outdoors is the most rewarding. Whether you're spiritual or not, you may experience some of the following spiritual benefits of Tai Chi:
A greater sense of self
A refined awareness of yourself and your surroundings
Helps you bond with nature and the outdoors
Balance your energy or Chi, which improves your overall sense of self
Clear your mind and enjoy the 'silence' of the mind
Develop positive energy from within
Qigong health benefits
Increase muscle strength and flexibility
Improves lower back pain
Encourages better blood circulation
Helps combating stress and depression
Better functioning of internal organs, beneficial to people suffering from Diabetes, Heart Problem, Kidney problems etc.
Reduce high blood pressure
Improvement on mental attitude and power of perception as well as overall physical fitness
improvement on flexibility of joints, thus beneficial to people with Arthritis.
Reduce the loss of Calcium thus improve bone density, thus beneficial to people suffer from Osteoporosis
The cardiovascular and respiratory functions are markedly improved
There many other physical and psychological benefits apart from the ones mentioned above. Health Qigong is truly a amazing exercise system suitable for people of all ages and all levels of physical ability.
Tai Chi and UNESCO
On the 17th December 2020, Taijiquan was listed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), as an 'Intangible cultural heritage'. The importance of an intangible cultural heritage refers to the wealth of knowledge and skills that is transmitted from one generation to the next. Spread through generations and constantly recreated, it ensures humanity with a sense of identity and continuity.
The viability of the intangible cultural heritage includes the identification, documentation, research, preservation, protection, promotion, enhancement, and transmission, particularly through formal and non-formal education of Taijiquan.