The benefits of Tai ji chuan

How Tai ji can benefit the practitioner

Tai ji provides a range of benefits.

  • Probably the most obvious benefit is in developing strong leg muscles. Because all exercises, and the form. are done with the legs bent the leg muscles are strengthened.
  • Relaxation. This takes time to develop as it differs from how most people think of relaxation. However as it is developed your movements will become more economical. Relaxation is not just physical. It is also mental as carrying out the form requires that awareness is on what you are doing rather than day to day concerns.
  • Mental agility. Because Tai ji is an exercise regime that differs in so many respects from normal day to day movement there is a need to develop an ability to learn the unexpected. Not only that but such mental ability is required all the time. Not just when initially learning.
  • Physical agility. Some of the movements in Tai ji are physically challenging. Especially for older students. Because of the combining of relaxation within the forms such movements can, usually, be carried out by the majority of students as a result of regular practice.
  • Breathing. Most people in urban societies have learned poor breathing technique. There is a tendency to breath by sucking air using the throat and upper chest. This means that, when additional oxygen is required, the lungs don't get it. Combining relaxation with breathing using the diaphragm soon improves most peoples breathing technique.
  • Cardio vascular. As a result of a combination of improved relaxation and breathing the cardio vascular system benefits. Tai ji has been medically shown to decrease blood pressure.
  • As a martial art. This takes patience. Tai ji's advantages as a martial art depend on the ability of the student to acquire an understanding of the principles. When those principles become an automatic component of the student's practice the student is in a position to use them in a way that will be both extremely effective and surprising to any opponent. That said Tai ji should not be practiced purely as a martial art because to do so all too often means the student tends to ignore the principles. If you're in a hurry to learn a Chinese martial art I recommend you take up Kung fu. White Crane Kung fu has certain ideas in common with Tai ji and can serve as a good introduction while also teaching the self defence aspects early on.
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