Tai Chi & Qigong at the Wareham Recreation Center
July 31, 1996
Tai Chi, also known as Taiji, literally translated means "supreme ultimate". It is a centuries old Chinese discipline for health, relaxation, self-cultivation and self-defense.
Beginner students are initially taught forms which like dance routines are prescribed sequences of movements meant to teach and illustrate the principles of Tai Chi techniques. These movements, based on martial art technique, are performed slowly without any strain or tension. Advanced students graduate onto push-hands and weapons such as the long sword or the broadsword. As Tai Chi is an advanced form of Qigong, various other more simpler Qigong exercises are also done in the class as a complementary form of training.
Since Tai Chi does not have any extreme movements and promotes gradual learning, its practitioners avoid the pulled muscles or other injuries normally associated with other strenuous activities or sports. As you become older, it becomes tougher to keep up with the other high-impact exercises or martial arts, but with Tai Chi there is no limit to how much softer or slower you can go. In fact, in China there are many Tai Chi masters who in their seventies or eighties are still active performers, and it is not uncommon to find masses of elderly people performing various Tai Chi routines in the parks.
Tai Chi is one of the best "load bearing" exercises available. Studies have shown that the body requires a "load bearing" exercise to properly and efficiently utilize calcium in the formation of bone mass. In China, studies have also shown that an 80-year-old Tai Chi practitioner of many years has significantly more bone mass than someone younger who does not do any form of exercise. Also the slow controlled movements of Tai Chi strengthen the connective tissues of the shoulders, pelvis, legs and feet.
A study sponsored by the National Institute of Aging (NIA) and published in the May 1995 issue of the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), showed that Tai Chi was the only exercise to show a significant decrease in the number of falls among the elderly. Another federally funded study at the Washington School of Medicine in St. Louis showed that Tai Chi reduces injuries from falls by 25 percent in older subjects compared to a control group of non-exercisers. This is not surprising as Tai Chi promotes balance, coordination and strength through gradual learning.
Tai Chi is an ideal form of exercise because you do not need special equipment; can be done anywhere; can be performed by anyone regardless of age, sex, size or athletic ability; and is a non-impact form of exercise.
The author Colman Fink who has been involved with the martial arts for over 40 years, teaches Tai Chi (Taiji), Qigong, Daoyin, Ryukyu Kobujutsu (Kobudo) and Karate Jutsu in Wareham, Middleborough and Plymouth. His Tai Chi organization is affiliated with the world-wide International Tai Chi Society. He is also the Chief Instructor at Yuishinkai Kobujutsu USA, and a Branch Chief in USA for Yuishinkai and Ryukyu Kobujutsu Hozon Shinko Kai, both of which are based in Tokyo, Japan. You also can follow his martial arts postings on his Google+ page Martial Arts with Colman.
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