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About Tai Chi
Tai chi chuan = Supreme Ultimate Fist (shadow boxing)
If the wrong man (or women) uses the right means,
the right means work in the wrong way
Tai chi and chi gong offer a refreshing change to the daily grind of everyday life, they offer a way of individual expression through gentle flowing movements that has been developed through the centuries to promote a way to enter a peaceful relationship of the mind, body and spirit (three treasures).
Note: meditation has traditionally been the cornerstone to any good martial art.
Tai Chi Chuan and the Over Weight:
Tai chi chuan and chigong are probably the most safest form of exercise for the obese and over weight simply because the routines allow for long periods of exercise that are not excessively aerobically challenging (depending on how the forms are approached) but substantially improve physical and mental health with each session when regularly practiced; baring in mind that each set of tai chi and chigong exercises have been specifically developed let anyone, of any abilities level to stretch, exercise and burn calories via movement, whilst protecting the muscles and skeletal joints, relaxing the mind (not metaphysically overstressing the body/mind through excessive movement) with meditation techniques sown into the very fabric of the exercises and routines.
One of the main aims of
Traditional Chinese Medicine
Taiji and Qigong
is to activate the bodies own natural healing processes
Tai chi and chi gong can help to;
- Develop deep abdominal breathing to release any tension held in the center of the body
(stressed people tend to shallow breathe).
- Deep abdominal breathing will in turn oxygenate the body naturally relax,
tone and massage the internal organs whilst encouraging balanced hormonal secretions.
- Slow flowing exercises stimulate relaxation receptors in the joints to help enter
a more peaceful and balanced state of mind, body and spirit (three treasures)..
- Promotion of a meditative movement and concentration on the lower energy centers
to balance blood pressure to normal.
- Release body tension to help let go of exhaustion and increase the bodies
natural available energy supplies.
- Relaxes the muscles to release any excessive tension on the nerves, blood vessels and arteries that flow through the muscles, this in turn promotes a more efficient relaxed blood and nervous system.
- Increases brain function and brain/body relationship because of gentle exercise and focused attention on the left and right side of the body
the left hemisphere of the brain controls the right side of the body
the right hemisphere of the brain controls the left side of the body
- Tendons and ligaments are exercised, tightened and toned to help keep skeletal joints in the correct position.
Learning and understanding qigong should be practiced and developed by all therapists who use chi energy as a healing medium, without practical qi knowledge, therapeutic application becomes a weakened, half therapy
Tai chi chuan ways:
Taiji can be practiced in many different ways but should develop from 3 distinct levels:
Yang taiji training (not to be confused with Yang style), "doing taiji", quick to medium speed taiji matter-a-fact loose movements (muscle memory training taiji), free breathing (wood/fire/taiji leading to wood/fire meridian energy)
Metaphysical Tai Chi Chuan in movement
Both training styles (yin/yang) when learnt and correctly put together lead to "metaphysical taiji movement" (doing and being) encouraging a calmness, a peacefulness to develop and leading to freedom through personal spiritual awareness whilst promoting a deep healing qigong walking (taiji chuan - water taiji, leading to water element energy) process. Metaphysical Tai Chi Chuan qi energy can only find real growth when Yin and Yang taiji (walking qigong) has been learnt and practiced daily with an open mind using the breath of heaven and the energy of earth.
WHAT STYLE DO YOU DO?
Emergence of Taiji
Tai chi, with its focus on breathing and flowing gestures, is often described as "meditation in motion." It emerged sometime between the 1300s and 1600s in China. Some say it was developed by monks, others by a retired general. They agree its ancient roots are in the martial arts, but tai chi movements are never aggressive despite being powerful as a defense mechanism.
The holistic movements are based on shifting body weight through a series of light, controlled maneuver which flow rhythmically together into one long, relaxed, graceful gesture once learned. The sequences have poetic names, such as "waving hands like clouds"or "embrace tiger and return to the mountain,"and can be quite beautiful to an observer.
Tai chi movements are intended to balance the flow of chi (natural energy) in mind as well as body thus connecting the internal (intrinsic) with the external (extrinsic). Practitioners endeavor to use the whole body which is moved slowly, with concentration on breathing and a sense to finding inner stillness (of the mind).
The concept of chi (life force energy) is at the heart of tai chi chuan. In Chinese medicine, it is believed that disease is due to blocks or imbalances in the flow of chi through the meridians. Chinese use acupuncture, herbs and qi gong/tai chi in the belief they can help balance the flow of chi to encourage well-being of the body/mind to effectively help cure illness and maintain general good health, depending on the current state of health.
Most Western doctors question the concept of chi, since it hasn't been scientifically proven to exist or fully understood how it process and application aids health and encourages healing. Nevertheless, some physicians who treat the elderly or those with musculoskeletal conditions such as arthritis have been impressed by how tai chi promotes improved pain thresholds, and range of motion for problematic limbs whilst helping to improve overall physical balance.
Basic Principles of Chi gong/Taiji Postures:
Feet are mostly flat
Diaphragm and abdomen relaxed and free
Breath getting deeper and slower as the exercise progresses (or natural breathing depending on the forms practiced and the skills understood of qigong walking); but not forced.
Spine needs to feel long, open and in a normal position with all three curves held naturally.
Shoulders dropped and relaxed without falling backwards or slouching forwards.
Knees, fingers, elbows and toes relaxed and slightly bent, but not forced just smooth arcs.
Taiji needs Qigong Work
Taiji needs Chigong (Qigong walking)
Chi gong is an integral part of tai chi and taiji is a form of qigong (qigong walking), tai chi without chi gong is no longer tai chi.
Tai chi becomes physically and visually an enjoyable dance without using chi gong principles, and will be physically good for the practitioner because they are exercising, but the practitioner will get so much more from what they are doing if they were not missing out vital elements of the tai chi forms, chi gong principles.
Applying chi gong principles
Applying chi gong to the tai chi forms cannot be fully explained in a book, film or the internet, to fully appreciated and understand the gift of chi gong someone who knows must show how, and students will know the difference between the correct way (tao) and the incorrect way immediately if they have practiced tai chi or chi gong before.
Health, self defense and spiritual development are the aims of all well tutored tai chi practitioners otherwise the tai chi forms are just a really good dancing exercise.
The highest obtainment the tai chi/chi gong practitioner can achieve is the development of the three treasures, (jing) essence (physical what we are), (chi) life force and (shen) the vital spirit/soul that makes us what we are.
If the tai chi practitioner or any sports person is looking to improve strength, power, coordination, focus and general health then they have to practice chi gong, tai chi will never fully work without chi gong principles, so it must be said that chi gong warm ups and chi gong training is a prerequisite for tai chi training and all of the physical and mental attributes it is famous for.
How Student progress through Chi gong walking -Tai Chi Chuan
(will turn into Yin)
(will turn into Yang)
When the best student hears of the (path)way
He practices assiduously
When the average student hears about the (path)way
It seems to him one moment there the next gone
When the worst student hears about the (path)way
He laughs out loud
If he did not laugh out loud it would be unworthy of being called the (path)way
The legend of how Zhang San Feng developed tai chi
It was usual for a monk to be adept in martial arts as this was the way the monks would keep their bodies in good order. Zhang San Feng had been summoned, by the emperor, because of his fame throughout China, to show the emperor his skills. On his journey to the emperor's palace Zhang Sang Feng had a dream.
He dreamt of a snake and a crane in combat, next to a river, watching he notice the snake coil and turn to avoid an attack of the cranes deadly thrusting beak; followed closely by the attack of the snake on the crane from its coiling energy, and the crane gently brushing the coiled attack away with its wing, and, at the same time moving in to attack the snake once more.
The battle was full of naturally skilled anticipation, turning, side stepping and attacking. Waking from the dream Zhang San Feng meditated on the naturalness of the actions the animals had developed and how minimal effort was used to employ their skills. Legend is that from this dream he developed the gentle but combat effective and well-being art of tai chi chuan.
Another concept of how soft martial arts first developed are indicate in a letter written about 200 B.C. E.
The letter was sent to the king of yuen by a woman warrior - yuen nu - the letter is held on record in the annals of the states of wu and yuen: she writes
The Yin and Yang Art of Swordsmanship
"The art of swordsmanship is extremely subtle and elusive; its principles are most secret and profound. The Tao has its gate and its door; yin declines and yang rises. When practicing the art of hand to hand combat, concentrate on the spirit internally and give the impression of relaxation externally, You should look like a modest woman and strike like a ferocious tiger.
As you assume various postures, regulate your chi, moving always with the spirit. Your skill should be obvious as the sun and a startling bolting hare. Your opponent endeavors to pursue your form and chase your shadow, yet your image hovers between existence and non existence. The breath moves in and out and should never be held. Whether you close with your opponent vertically or horizontally, with or against the flow, never attack frontally. Mastery of this art allows one to match a hundred and a hundred to match a thousand."
Yin and Yang (the taiji)
The terminology yin-yang is really another name for the Tai Chi Tu, so when you call the black and white symbol of yin and yang by its correct name is known as the Tai Chi Tu.
The Chinese call the tai chi symbol the hard soft sign, hard being black and soft being white. The opposites of black and white come together.
Chuan means boxing or fist and tai chi chuan means means supreme ultimate fist which is a form of internal kung fu, with the focus on developing deep relaxation, breathing and a flexible but agile mind as opposed to muscle strength and external tension.
Tai chi was formed on the idea of yin and yang theory. Yin and yang emphasize natural balance and harmony throughout the universe, and because human beings belong to the universe the discipline of mental and physical balance is central to the art of tai chi.
The tai chi art was proven to be successful at developing and obtaining internal energy through metaphysical discipline (yang) and meditation, letting go (yin), always bearing in mind that when ultimate yang is obtained it will turn into yin, and when ultimate yin is obtained it will turn into yang, however there will always be some yang within yin and some yin within yang.
Breath is used and focused on considerably in guychi and the symbol for breath in this case is OM, this eternal word is all; what was, what is and what shall be.
The written Sanskrit representation of the OM symbol means:
The long lower curve represents the dream state
The upper curve represents the waking state
The curve coming out of the centre - deep, dreamless sleep
The crescent shape represents the veil of illusion
The upper dot represents the transcendental state
When the spirit passes through the veil and rests in the transcendental state
the individual is liberated from the 3 states and their qualities
Fight - Flight - Freeze
Fight (yang) or Flight (yin) and Freeze; is Taiji/Qigong a solution?
The modern lifestyle is very stressful simply because of the nature of modern times and the lifestyles now adopted by human beings.
Psychologists have divided stress factors in three parts; Fight - Flight and Freeze.
Fight (Noradrenaline) or flight (Adrenaline) simply means that when a stressful situation arises the body, mind (brain) and spirits natural defense system is triggered to either fight its way out of a dangerous situation or run away to a safer place escaping the perceived threat placed before it.
Fight or flight (and freeze) are a genetic, ancestral mental-emotional relic inherited from our evolutionary past which developed over centuries to help as way to survive and be safe which was first established through natural, spontaneous instinctual growth.
Fight or flight metaphysical state is a natural, but common way of being and behaviour for modern human beings.
The consumer society, work pressures, daily burden of ordinary responsibility (bills etc.), and family life can just about bring any normal person into a state of anxiety (fight or flight) permanently, not to mention the fact that its not the normal done thing to express and let go of anxiety (in fact some people feel they need anxiety to function?) and feelings (talking) about the way life is going and how you are, or are not coping with growing emotional stress levels daily.
The main hormone/neurotransmitter used in fight is Noradrenaline
The main hormone secreted in flight is Adrenaline
The mind/body could just freeze (shock) because the body and mind systems get confused and do not know whether to fight or flight, becomes trapped in a loop of doing one thing (fight) or the other (flight), in essence the body and mind crashes which creates a metaphysical emotional conflict, the mind/brain is in not-knowing or understanding situation, so it shuts down or freezes, the body is put into limbo because all its hormones are in conflict (whether to fight or flight) and becomes stuck in one place.
Physiologically the mind/body going through extreme turmoil can be put in such confusion that it can cause a state of repression, where the mind and the body suppresses what could have happened whilst being frozen (because the trauma is difficult to mentally and physically accept), to mental-block the moment out into the unconscious, a mind/body protective wall, a hidden, safe place that becomes a repression for metaphysical safety's sake.
The metaphysical safety valve
The mind/body can and will protect itself, using defense mechanisms, by locking away unwanted, unhealthy and hurtful traumatic events, feelings and memories to protect the mind/body from any undesirable, experienced trauma, but the repressed emotional content can be so emotively strong that it immediately or overtime begins to leak, the metaphysical leakage can start to be manifested via mental health disorders (Anger, Anxiety, Depression, Fear-Fright, Obsessions, fake Joyfulness etc), physical problems that show themselves for no reason (tics, eating disorders, addictions) all of which need to be addressed or released, understood and let go of to give relief to the unconscious, holistic pressure, to regain a (or fulfil) mind/body healthy balance and well-being.
Taiji (qigong walking) can Help Overcome Constant Stress
(But first we need to know what stress is)
If this life of constant stress has no way of release, the bodies coping mechanism will find a way to tell the individual that they need help to let go of problems, the list next indicates just a small proportion of the ways the body, mind (brain) and spirit will show you its on overload and needs to have a way to let go and get some relief.
Negative Stress that is driven by emotion and the senses is known as a Fire Mind
(burning out of control) yang
Good stress that is controlled and calm (cool) is known as the Water mind
(mind of intention - calm as a flat lake, but deep and knowledgeable) yin
How to Recognize Stress
Body's reaction to stress;
1. Adrenaline (flight) or noradrenaline (fight) is released to prepare the body to fight or run from danger
2. Increase sweating which is noticeable
3. Dry mouth
4. Pale face because blood has been diverted to vital organs
5. The five senses become sharper
6. Large amounts of the bodies (hormones) natural painkillers, endorphins are released from the hypothalamus
7. The heart beats faster to pump oxygen to the muscles and brain for increased efficiency
8. Body hair stands on end
9. Cortisone is released to protect against possible allergic reaction
10. Blood thickens to carry extra oxygen and clot more efficiently at the sight of a possible wound
11. The bowels and bladder empty because blood has been diverted to the muscles
If your heart beats faster and you feel under pressure by the most simple of every-day events then you are a victim of stress that needs to be addressed before it turns into a mental, physical or emotional problem.
One of the chief indicators that you are a stress victim is not being able to get a good nights sleep.
Some Symptoms and indications of constant stress;
1. Nervousness, weight loss, obesity, insomnia and exhaustion
2. High blood pressure, migraines
3. Increased chance of a stroke or heart attack caused by constant blood thickening
4. Dry mouth, abdominal cramps and diarrhea
5. Sweaty hands and an increase of body sweat in general
6. Loss of concentration and exhaustion because of a constant overloaded system
7. Shallow, rapid, anxious breathing
8. White - pallid complexion
9. Increased risk of heart disease
10. Immune system weakened
11. Sexual disorders
14. Skin disorders
Emotions - Anger, Anxiety, Depression, Fear-Fright, Obsessions, fake Joyfulness.
Digestive System - Indigestion, flatulence, constipation, heartburn, duodenal ulcers nausea and ulcerative colitis.
Muscles and joints - Back pain, neck pain, headaches, cramps and muscle spasms.
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