Why Do it?
Tai Chi is a wonderful exercise for anyone looking to take care of their whole being, especially if they do not already do some form of exercise. The NHS taught it to me for pain management.
~ Our NHS advocates Tai Chi for improving balance and co-ordination, for relaxation and stress relief, prevention of falls, chronic pain, Cardiac Failure, Pulmonary rehab (COPD) and also for mental health/wellbeing, such as aiding depression, Chronic Fatigue (CFS/ME) and Alzheimer's.
Often performed in groups, it provides much needed social interaction and thus helps to prevent loneliness. Tai Chi improves self-confidence and keeps the mind sharp too (see the "Mature Times" article on Alzheimer's below).
In general terms, Yang style T'ai Chi is characterised by relatively slow and deceptively gentle movements, which are coordinated with your breathing and helps to cultivate a calm state of mind. It consists of numerous Qi-qongs and T'ai Chi "forms" and is a non-contact sport when performed for health purposes.
There are also various styles and forms which are performed at speed and with power. There are also forms with weapons.
Tai Chi is the West's name for the ancient Chinese self-defence, soft/internal Martial Art, Taijiquan (also known as T'ai Chi Ch'uan). Yang style T'ai Chi, as taught by Mike, is a mere 200 years old, but it is the world's most popular form. Martial arts have been practised in China since before the Yellow Emperor Huangdi in 2,700 BC.