T’ai Chi Ch’uan – Ancient Method of Self-Defense Turned Health-Improving Exercise

In ancient China centuries ago, a systematic technique of self-defense was devised as a means for warriors to defeat their enemies during hand-to-hand encounters. The old Chinese called this self-defense method “t’ai chi ch’uan,” which can be interpreted literally as “ultimate highest degree of boxing.” Today, many people engage in t’ai chi ch’uan, no longer for combat purposes, but to improve health and maintain their well-being.

In one of your morning strolls around a park, groups of people performing together routines in slow motion have probably caught your attention. These people, in all certainty, were performing t’ai chi ch’uan. Originally developed as a form of martial art, t’ai chi ch’uan has become a form of non-impinging exercise that many people practice today for the purpose of maintaining good health – to better blood circulation in the body, to bring breathing into consonance, and to make joints and muscles become stronger. As a matter of fact, my wife and I have been practicing t’ai chi ch’uan for close to three years now and we can’t help but recognize its many health benefits.

A number of assumed body positions and certain breathing methods are involved in t’ai chi ch’uan, much like in yoga (which makes use of various postures and breathing exercises done in succession). But unlike yoga, these varying positions of the body are assumed in graceful sequence, creating what may look like slow dance maneuvers. These fluid movements, coupled by specific balance and breathing techniques, are what make t’ai chi ch’uan a helpful contributor in good-health maintenance. Consider the many health benefits one can gain from engaging regularly in t’ai chi ch’uan: it can relieve backache and gastrointestinal distress; it can lower high blood pressure; it can help ease anxiety; it can provide relief for stomach ulcer; and it can lessen the chance of developing cardiovascular disease.

For people who are convinced of t’ai chi ch’uan’s good-health contributions and are seriously considering engaging in it, experts advise to first join a class with a competent trainer. Because like yoga, professional training is necessary for anyone wishing to practice t’ai chi ch’uan. Certain movements used in this exercise can result to injury if performed the wrong way. Also, some conditions – like having glaucoma or being pregnant – require that you consult your doctor before starting with the exercise; certain movements may cause complications to your condition. Otherwise for healthy people, t’ai chi ch’uan is a risk-free form of exercise, especially when performed properly under the close watch of an expert trainer.

If you are one of the many people who appreciate the priceless value of a healthy and stress-free life and of having an alert mind, know that a simple change in breathing can add more flying power to your life with endless source of energy. (Reprinted with permission from Edward Villablanca.) Visit Basic Tai Chi Breathing: A Simple Step by Step Guide at Guide to Tai Chi Breathing. Hälsa och träning