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The Magic of Tai Chi

By April Brazier

Working on weight-loss but not really up for a strenuous and ferocious workout? Tai Chi might be your answer. In Asia, particularly in Taiwan, early morning parks are packed with people working on their Tai Chi. There, it is commonly believed and strongly recommended by Chinese doctors that Tai Chi is among the least stressful ways to strengthen your muscles and increase your metabolism. It can healthfully decrease and control one's weight without putting a burden on the knees, back and shoulders. In fact, a lot of people in Asia are resorting to Tai Chi as their ultimate daily physical therapy for maintaining good health.

The good health magic involves no high jumps or speedy rushing movement, instead it cultivates a steady strength that flows through its peaceful and slow movements of the body. Here are some famously known Tai Chi postures that you may have seen and their explanation.

Standing Meditation the Posture of Getting Ready (Yu Bei)

The First Posture of the Form

The first posture of the form is also the posture used for standing meditation. Quotes from Master Yang Chengfu (right).

The spirit of vitality should be naturally elevated. The mind should be calm, without a trace of distracting thoughts.

This posture is the foundation for all of the movements that follow!

What the master is saying is that when practicing the movements your action first takes place in the mind and then the movement of the body follows.

 

Single Whip

Single Whip is one of the most well known postures of the Tai Chi form. It is easy to learn, relaxing to hold and exciting to watch.

"When one arm advances the other follows. The two arms are mutually linked, the movements are round and lively."

 

 

 

 

 

 

The name 'Single Whip' comes from a weapon that was popular in previous dynasties. The whip is a weapon used like a sword, but with no sharp edges. Its rough shaft helps to damage the opponent's sword.

Usually made from a metal such as steel or bronze, it is very heavy and requires great strength. The techniques of this weapon use weight as an advantage.

This is a picture from the form Tiger Tail Whip,  part of our curriculum.

 

Play the Pipa

"When performing the movements of Play the Pipa, one must have an inward momentum of sinking down, but one's spirit must still possess the idea of nimble dexterity and liveliness."

The Pipa

Tai Chi is the least stressful way to strengthen your muscles and increase your metabolism. There is no gasping for breath or running around. But the continued movement from one low posture to the next activates the body's metabolism and produces internal heat. If you have not tried Tai Chi yet, be sure to practice it the next time you encounter a Tai Chi teacher

Quotes taken from the excellent book Mastering Yang Style Taijiquan-Translated by Louis Swaim

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