Tai Chi Health Benefits and Origins
The Origins of Tai Chi
There is a legend about a Taoist Monk called Zhang San Feng, who lived in Wudang Mountains inventing Tai Chi Chuan. Wudang Mountains is still today famous for its study and research into Tai Chi, but this is not the exercise system. Tai Chi literally means the study of Yin and Yang, and is therefore a philosophy. The exercise/martial art system is properly called "Tai Chi Chuan" which really means Tai Chi Fist or Tai Chi Boxing. There is no recorded proof that this monk ever really existed or that if he did, he was a Martial Artist. Historically we can prove that there was no evidence of Tai Chi Chuan in China before the 1600s. The earliest historical records show that Chen Style Tai Chi originated in Chen Jia Gou, a small farming village in Henan. Having retired from the army at the end of the Ming Dynasty, General Chen Wangting , a renown warrior, returned to his home where he spent his retirement developing ways to improve Martial skills. The following is recorded in the Chen family genealogy:-
"Chen Wangting, alias Zhouting, was a soldier at the end of the Ming Dynasty and a scholar at the start of the Ching Dynasty, Known in Shandong Province as a master of martial arts...he was the originator of the Chen family bare handed and armed combat boxing."
By combining the theory of Yin and Yang, Traditional Chinese medicine, Qigong, and Martial Arts, he developed Tai Chi Chuan.
Pictures above taken in Chen Village, Chen Jiagou, Henan, the home of Tai Chi, and of the Founder, Chen Wangting.
All other known styles of Tai Chi, have some basis in Chen Style Tai Chi. So we know that all Tai Chi can connect back to Chen Wangting. The current Grandmasters, Chen Xiaowang and Chen Zhenglei are directly descended from Chen Wangting and are the 19th generation of the same family!
The Laojia Form (Chen Style Old Frame) part 2
This is the second section of the form that we practise here in Bury. We start to learn this on Tuesday at the Jubilee Centre and on Wednesday evening at the Polish Social centre.
Students in the Rochdale class with John Chang, on Friday morning, are also working through this.
Chen Style Tai Chi Old Frame - Last section
Some Tai Chi Health Benefits
Most of the students in our Bury and Oldham classes wish to learn Tai Chi for its health benefits. Because it is based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Qigong, Tai Chi, although a martial art, has a long established health connection. Tai Chi has been proven to have many health benefits whether you are young or old.
Today in the West, Tai Chi attracts many older people due to the slow, controlled, low impact nature of the movements. This means not too much stress on the joints although it is strengthening the legs and the back!
Here are a few examples of how Tai Chi can help you!
ARTERIAL COMPLIANCE - A Hong Kong study of pulse measurements showed that Tai Chi improved expansion and contraction of the arteries, an important indicator of heart health. Initial results showed Tai Chi practitioners were superior in almost all medical observations including blood pressure, vascular resistance, and pulse pressure. Both large and small artery compliance was 40-44% higher. Additional study also showed that Tai Chi subjects had a greater average muscle strength.
STROKE - A recent report from Hong Kong Polytechnic University has shown that Stroke survivors can benefit from Tai Chi. A study group of 136 patients were divided into two groups. One group practised Tai Chi based exercises for 12 weeks whilst the other group practised sitting, walking and breathing exercises. After 12 weeks both groups showed the same ability to stand, walk and to sit back down. The Tai Chi group excelled in shifting weight, balance, leaning in different directions and standing on a moving surface (to simulate a bus).
HAPPINESS - A 3 week study in New Zealand reported that patients with traumatic brain injury who practised Tai Chi were increased in their levels of happiness and energy, whilst their levels of depression, anger, tension and fear had decreased.
JOINTS - Daejeon University in Korea reported that 50 minutes of Tai Chi per week significantly decreased pain and fatigue in Rheumatoid Arthritis sufferers.
BONES - Beijing University reported that Tai Chi practitioners had increased bone density compared with others of a similar age.
ANKYLOSING SPONDYLITIS - Sufferers from this condition can benefit as Tai Chi improves flexibility, muscle strength and cardiovascular function.
OTHER BENEFITS - Leg strength, posture, improved breathing, lower blood pressure etc., the list continues. Emotional problems and some types of mental health problems can also benefit. More and more people now recognise how Tai Chi exercise can improve their conditions and some doctors are now prescribing a course of Tai Chi lessons instead of drugs!
Our Students say....
Since I have been doing these lessons, I have gained more movement in my joints - Linda B.
I feel these lessons are helpful to my movements on a day to day basis - Amy R.
- The Tai Chi sessions make you feel relaxed and you can concentrate more. - Betty B
- The benefits of Tai Chi both physically and mentally are enormous to all ages. John is an excellent teacher and makes the class very enjoyable - Lesley L.
- I enjoy the sessions each week and feel the benefit. Our teacher explains each movement thoroughly. Thank You - Laura B.