When I meet new students for the first time, whether in a class, workshop, retreat, or private training, they often ask, why do Chen style tai chi? Rather than give them a list of reasons, I suggest they ask themselves this question. I do not want them to answer, but ask them to write down their reason(s) in their Tai Chi Notebook. Then, after practicing for a month, six months, a year, to go back and once again ask, why do Chen style tai chi… and notice how it evolves and changes. Because tai chi is an art (wushu = martial art), it is a life long study in which we can always learn more, go deeper into it, and further develop all aspects of our lives – physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Because Chen Style Tai Chi is a martial art, it must fulfill two functions:
Generally most people’s reasons for learning Tai Chi fall within these parameters and/or a combination of the two. If a martial art does not fulfill both of these functions, then you better put that one aside and look for one that does! Actually, the original training methods set down by the Chen family, who created this “internal” martial art, are one and the same – meaning, there is no separation between training for health and training for self defense – there is one training method for both.
In this article, we will focus on Tai Chi’s wonderful benefits for health and healing.
Often we hear about the many health benefits of tai chi. But how does tai chi work, and why is it so good for our health? To list all of tai chi’s benefits for health would be too long for this article. We will focus on some of the main benefits and why.
I will end this article with a quote from my first Tai Chi teacher, Mr. Chow Chian Chiu, of the Wu Style Tai Chi. When Mr. Chow was asked in an interview many years ago (he was in his late 80s at the time) if Tai Chi was really effective as a martial art, this was his answer:
“You can live your whole life without ever having to fight. But every day you need good health. Do you understand?”
When we are young, we are not thinking about our old age. When we practice Tai Chi each day, we are already preparing for our later years…
So the question, “why do Chen style tai chi”… please consider this often as your skill improves – you will most likely find that your reason(s) will grow along with your skill!
The above article is intended as an overview and introduction to the benefits of Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan. Future articles will expand on all aspects of this wonderful “internal” martial art and health and healing system.
Our next article will discuss The Three Pillars of Chen Style Tai Chi: Yi, or intention, Chansijin, or “silk reeling force”, and Fangsong, ‘letting go”, or pure relaxation.