Monday, November 22, 2010

Right-handed or Left-handed? Try Balanced.

Photo By Tony Roberts

"Are you right-handed or left-handed?" If you ask anyone this question, he or she will most likely affirm that he or she identifies with one side or the other. It is rare to find someone who is truly ambidextrous, who will tell you that he or she uses both sides of the body equally. Such is a weakness of human beings. We rely too much on one side of our body. For example, we may always use our right hand to push open a door, carry a bag only on our right shoulder or use more force on our right leg while running. We are not totally balanced and use only part of our body. As a result, one leg or arm often becomes stronger than the other. Consequently, we often get into the habit of using one side of the body much more than the other. This makes the other side much weaker. Even the organs inside are often weaker on one side of the body. That's why it's common that under pressure, sickness and even physical injury are more likely to affect, and occur on, the weaker side of the body.

Symmetrical movement! That's what Tai Chi offers. When we move to the right, we move to the left first. When we want move up, we need to move down to balance. Upper body and lower body are coordinated; left side and right side are symmetrical. It's important not only to balance our body and mind, but to balance our life by breaking the bad habit of moving only part of our body. Doing Tai Chi will allow you, when presented with the above question, to proudly answer: "I am not right-handed or left-handed. I am balanced."

Copyright by Huan's Tai Chi 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Give yourself a Massage! Use Tai Chi to Stimulate 300 Acupuncture Points!

We all know any form of physical activity can help improve blood circulation, but Tai Chi's unique characteristics make it one of the leading exercises recommended to treat circulatory problems.

One of the reasons why Tai Chi is such a good exercise for stimulating circulation is that it is a whole body exercise. While other forms of exercise focus on different parts of your body, Tai Chi moves your whole body as a together. For example, weightlifting exercises your arms only when you specifically target the arms in a set of arm lifts. In Tai Chi, when you move an arm, your whole body has to move together to balance this arm movement.

Furthermore, Tai Chi is an exercise for both internal and external parts of your body. When we move with Tai Chi, we are not just moving arms or legs. We are moving our internal organs along with these external moves. The long, slow breaths also coordinate with body movements to massage the internal organs. In Tai Chi, we say, "Use the Mind/Concentration to lead the Qi/Energy; Use the Qi/Energy to circulate through the whole body."

According to China's Family Medicine Magazine, the waist rotation, bending, stretching and turning found in the whole Tai Chi form can activate more than 300 of the body’s acupuncture points. The movements in Tai Chi stretch, twist and squeeze all these pressure points and, in effect, give your body a full-body massage. Learn Tai Chi and start to enjoy the benefits that it can offer to you!

Copyright Huan's Tai Chi 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

8 Benefits of Practicing Tai Chi in Slow Speed

Photo by Peter Batty

I often heard my uncle say, "When sickness comes, it's like a mountain falling down, fast and strong. When its time for the sickness to go, it's like pulling silk from a silkworm's cocoon; it takes time."

When we look at all the Tai Chi sets, we see that Grandmaster Ma Yue Liang has contributed a fast Wu Style form; however most Tai Chi sets still must be done slowly.

Let’s look at the benefits of performing a slow Tai Chi set rather than moving quickly through the movements.

1. You can exercise the energy as if you were pulling silk; you can really sense and feel the
energy moving around.
2. You can pay attention to every small detail.
3. It’s easier to form roundness and arcs with your body.
4. You can easily quiet your mind.
5. It’s easier to relax your body.
6. It’s easier to breathe slower and hold each breath longer, an exercise which brings more oxygen into your lungs.
7. It’s easier to coordinate your upper and lower body and balance your body.
8. It’s easier to “find the feeling” of each movement, to really internalize how each movement feels when you do it correctly.

When it comes to push hands or real fighting, Tai Chi moves do need to be very fast. So we can say practice your Tai Chi as if you were pulling silk; then apply your Tai Chi like lightning!

Copyrighted by Huan's Tai Chi 2010

Monday, November 1, 2010

Does Simplified Tai Chi mean Simplified Benefits?

This fall as new classes began, I heard a student ask a very popular question about how long it would take to finish the whole Tai Chi form and if we are teaching the simplified form. My answer, of course, is that we are teaching the long form but simplified form. Doing Tai Chi is just like cooking Chinese stew. If you simplify the recipe and skip a few ingredients, it doesn’t taste the same as the original. If you want all of the health and martial arts benefits of Tai Chi, then you need to learn the whole form.

I have heard from some old Tai Chi masters in China that the best way to learn the forms is through private instruction. Usually it takes a week or two to learn one or two movements. Sometimes it takes longer if you don’t get your movements right. With private instruction, you don’t learn a new movement until you get the current movement right. The disadvantage of taking a group lesson is that it goes too fast. Teachers need to follow the schedule and make sure you learn a certain number of moves in a session. In a group class there may be many students who know what’s going on, but there can also be slower learners. But even if you take a private lesson from your teacher every day, it takes at least two years to master the complete Tai Chi set. Now you can assess the quality of somebody’s Tai Chi set if he says he took two years to finish it or just six months.

copyright by Huan's Tai Chi 2010