Tai Ji Chuen and Chi Gung
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Practitioner's Perspectives

 

  There is a good deal of debate in Tai Ji Chuen (T'ai Chi Ch'uen/Tai Ji Quan) and Chi Gung (Ch'ih Gung/Qi Gong) circles about what the art should be.  One outlook is that Tai Ji Chuen and Chi Gung is a multifaceted pursuit with many possible courses of study and training.   As diverse as people and their individual interests are, Tai Ji Chuen and Chi Gung provides opportunity to match these interests, physical condition, and personal needs with a health-exercise program or self-defense program.  The trick here is to find the right school and teacher for the individual.

    Tai Ji Chuen (T'ai Chi Ch'uen/Tai Ji Quan) is a martial art, with a variety of techniques and weapons included in the training. Most Chinese martial arts practice an associated Chi Gung (Ch'ih Gung/Qi Gong)  routine as a calisthenics, for stretching or strength training. Shaolin Five Animal practioners also perform the Muscle-tendon Change Classic or the Eighteen Lohan routines. Tai Ji Chuen practitioners of ten do the Eight Pieces of Brocade. However it must be noted that one does not have to do Chi Gung to practice martial arts. Similarly Chi Gung can be practiced for its own sake without the study of martial art. However it can be said that the practice of Chi Gung can enhance the practice of Martial Art.

   In the modern world most people practice Tai Ji Chuen (T'ai Chi Ch'uen/Tai Ji Quan) as a Chi Gung (Ch'ih Gung/Qi Gong) without any of the martial aspects. In most of these cases they refer to the practice as Tai Chi. However common the use of the term Tai Chi, this is a case of ignorance of the Chinese language and the standard methods of transliteration. I use the term Tai Ji Chi Gung instead of Tai Chi to signify the practice of Tai Ji Chuen as a form of Chi Gung. Please reference the article on Chinese transliteration systems to get more details on this subject.

   There are a few clear reasons why someone would take an interest in Tai Ji Chuen and or Chi Gung. Some people are stressed to their limit by the demands of daily life and seek an intellectual distraction, or pursuit that focuses on relaxation and the centering of mind and body.  Others may be looking for an exercise program that will hold their interest for the long term and not cause them injury.  Still others wish to undertake martial arts training for fitness, self-discipline, and self-defense, by practicing a martial art that they can pursue well into old age without loss of effectiveness.  And others may be in their senior years, in search of activity, improved health and balance, and interaction with a group of people.

   The truth is that all of these reasons for taking interest in Tai Ji Chuen and Chi Gung are valid and appropriate in-and-of themselves.  Many practitioners, however, train to fulfill all of the objectives mentioned above, and seek the fullest possible understanding and experience that Chi Gung and Tai Ji Chuen can offer.  Whatever the purpose or goals each individual has in taking up the practice of Chi Gung and Tai Ji Chuen, all should be appreciated for their role in perpetuating the art.

 

Some of the health benefits of Chi Gung and Tai Ji Chuen are as follows:

  • Strengthens muscles, connective tissues, and bones.
  • Improves flexibility.
  • Improves posture, balance, and coordination.
  • Reduces stress.
  • Lowers blood pressure.
  • Can reduce depression & anxiety.
  • May benefit immune system.
  • Improves lung capacity.
  • Improves energy and stamina.
  • Reduces impact of arthritis.
  • May delay the decline of cardio-respiratory function in older individuals.