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Why Do Chen Style Tai Chi?
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Why Do Chen Style Tai Chi?

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:

  1. It must be good for health and healing
  2. It must be effective for self defense

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.

Why Tai Chi is Good for Your Health

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.

  • NERVOUS SYSTEM – When practicing tai chi, great emphasis is placed on relaxation and letting go of tension.  This has a very calming and soothing effect on the nerves.  When the nerves relax, the whole body relaxes, because every system is controlled by the nervous system.
  • MUSCULOSKELETAL SYSTEM – Chen Style Tai Chi’s continually spiraling movements (called silk reeling), increase vital energy (qi) and blood circulation, and heal injuries to muscles, tendons, and ligaments.  The constant opening and closing movements of the joints restores synovial fluid to regenerate joints and reverse and heal inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.
  • CARDIOPULMONARY SYSTEM – Tai Chi’s deep breathing and gentle flowing movements cultivate deep relaxation while increasing oxygenation to all tissues, which lowers blood pressure and improves lung diseases.  Tai Chi postures thoroughly exercise the large leg muscles, therefore massaging and strengthening the heart fully.
  • IMMUNE SYSTEM – Tai Chi movements massage the lymph glands, stimulating lymphatic drainage, which strengthens immunity and resistance to sickness.

Tai Chi is Good At Any Age!

  • FOR CHILDREN – Physical coordination, confidence, concentration, self control, self discipline, self respect, self defense, build strong character
  • FOR TEENS – Build self esteem, self confidence, self worth, positive outlook on life, concentration skills, respect for self and others
  • FOR ADULTS – Gain and maintain optimum health, self healing from chronic injuries and illnesses, maintain strength, pliability, and stamina for whole lifetime, manage stress
  • FOR SENIORS – Reverse the “normal” symptoms of aging, mental clarity, heightened senses, dramatically improved BALANCE, strengthen immune system to fight infections, regenerate full joint range of motion, reduce/eliminate chronic pain (arthritis, back pain…)
  • FOR EVERYONE – Cultivation of deep relaxation of body and mind, improved health, mental clarity, emotional balance, long happy healthy life

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.

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