Tai chi developed in ancient China as a martial art and self-defense system. It is one of the most popular martial arts globally, practiced by millions of people worldwide. It is also one of the most popular forms of physical activity, emphasizing relaxation, meditation, and healing.
While tai chi movements are not as rapid or forceful as other martial arts, they are no less powerful. The goal is to avoid attack and instead counter an enemy’s force to your strategic advantage.
The principles behind tai chi are designed to help you find inner peace and calm. While simultaneously learning how to use your body in a manner that will promote healing. It is based on Taoist philosophy and incorporates elements of Buddhism and Confucianism.
Tai Chi as a form of exercise
Originally used for self-defense, it wasn’t until modern times that tai chi became popularized through movies and publications as a form of physical exercise.
It is a slow, flowing aerobic exercise that employs sets of choreographed, gentle movements to improve strength and balance. The practices are often done in groups, and the low impact exercise is only part of the training. For example, tai chi masters will use meditation and breathing techniques to help people relax their brains and bodies.
Tai chi emphasizes controlled, slow movements that visibly resemble those found by children when they play with imaginary friends or toys.
Movement style and technique
Tai Chi Chuan is considered the most internal of the martial arts because its teachings are designed to train the practitioner to move using their own body’s inner strength instead of relying on brute muscle strength. Practitioners of use slow, controlled “meditation in motion” designed to increase the energy flow through the body.
The goal is to move the body in a way that gives an opponent nothing to grab onto while still letting you maintain control over your movements. These styles are designed to enhance balance, flexibility, strength, endurance, posture control, and overall health. All without putting unnecessary stress on joints or ligaments.
And because of the continuous movement, there is an aerobic exercise benefit.
And it is just as easily performed alone in a normal-size room with little space or with others outdoors. You don’t need to travel to a particular studio to practice tai chi; it can be done just about anywhere, at any time.
Quality of life
The tai chi health benefits come from the combination of styles, which focus on awareness and the opening of your body to what is going on around you. The purposeful design helps develop a connection with your mind and body.
According to one study, some of the mental health benefits of tai chi include decreased anxiety and depression and improvements in cognition. While, the results of a clinical trial that followed persons after recent heart failure, demonstrated significantly improved maximum oxygen capacity.
Tai chi helps improve cognitive function by enhancing blood flow to the brain and slowing down aging processes through relaxation techniques.