I've been looking into tai chi. I've started my weight loss path at 280 and with extreme arthritis in both knees, so I see it as a potentially wonderful way to ease into moving my body more. Besides various medical groups saying that it can help with arthritis by loosening joints and improving muscles (not to mention via overall fitness), apparently some studies have shown that it can provide benefits to people with depression, which is also an issue of mine.
Here's the problem: tai chi is so well known for being beneficial to older folks that the classes in my area are only offered for senior citizens! How crazy is that?? It's to the point where I'm going to call up the instructors and ask if they'd mind letting a 24 year old in. I don't want to make anybody feel uncomfortable, but I have to be able to access exercise at my level of ability too!
If anybody has ideas/suggestions related to this, please let me know on my sparkpage :)
I cannot recommend tai chi enough, especially for the elderly wishing to stay active or those who cannot participate in vigorous sports or easily get up and down off the floor for yoga. My sister-in-law is an instructor in kung fu and tai chi, and some of her tai chi students are in their 70's and 80's who even compete in tournaments.
However, I think the article itself is a bit...superficial and poorly researched, and the use of quotes around "masters" to be rather condescending. This is definitely a definition by western standards and is what "cheap" tai chi predominantly is in the US, but it is not about real tai chi. Tai chi is a martial art, this is why it is always part of kung fu tournaments in the US and abroad, and any instructor worth his salt will know the martial applications of each of those "gentle" movements.
I had the pleasure of meeting a grand master of tai chi and he would even contend that tai chi is not a soft martial art at all, it is practice softly, but applied hard. This is a man who can literally throw you across the room. Tai chi's martial aspects are definitely not a thing of the past.
I believe this article's basic description, "meditation in motion," much more accurately describes the practice of Qigong, which I would also recommend.
I would like to interject a comment here only because I've had this experience.
When seeking an instructor in Tai Chi, ask to see their credentials. If you're going to a "self-taught" Tai Chi master, you're barking up the wrong tree. Chances are that they've never formally taken a class, or even know a master, and can do more harm than good.
You might be going slow with the Tai Chi poses, but you're working up quite a sweat. A qualified instructor will be able to tailor a program to fit your needs and give you a little challenge.
2/25/2011 9:05:06 AM
Almost 17 years ago, I took a class at the local dance studio. I was pregnant wiht my youngest son at the time. I loved tai chi!
Thank you for the information, I have fibromyalgia and this sounds like a nice alternative form of exercise to help improve my muscles without the stress. I hope I am able to find someone in my area to teach this method.
If you're interested in tai chi for health, do a Google search for the Taoist Tai Chi Society in your area. They don't go into the martial arts aspect at all which to me is a critical omission, that's why I'm not going there any more. But as far as health promotion goes they're doing a good job.
Does anyone do both Tai Chi and yoga? Which do you prefer?? I've recently gotten into yoga; its not as much an exercise thing, but a means of meditation. Would Tai Chi yield similar results? Also, are there places online where you can find instruction for free? I'd like to be able to try it out before I commit any money to it.
ELISADEL is correct. This article does not appear as well informed as it could be. Despite the popularity (especially in the West) of Tai Chi practiced as a gentle meditative form of exercise (excellent for health!), Tai Chi and the related Internal arts (Neijia) such as Bagua, Xingyi, Yiquan still indeed exist as martial arts. The proper study of Tai Chi, however, also cultivates one's inner peace, so the more practiced one is, the more unlikely one is to consider using it as an offensive martial art (as opposed to defensive), though it certainly can be.
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