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Tai Chi & Chi Kung

I have been studying Tai Chi for about 2 years and have learnt the Yang Style Short and Long Form, Push Hands and Chi Kung. Over time I hope to add a lot of links relevant to both Tai Chi and Chi Kung.


Introduction

Tai Chi Information


Tai Chi Game

Tai Chi Game is a game based on the philosophy of Tai Chi and the FIVE CATEGORIES

In ancient China, some philosophers believed that everything that existed in the universe could be classified into FIVE CATEGORIES. These philosophers used the FIVE CATEGORIES combined with Tai Chi to build a theory of the universe

The site which was I linked to for this game no longer seems to be carrying it. I will e-mail a copy to you if you are interested.

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Books and Magazines

If you are aware of any other good links for Tai Chi Books and magazines, please e-mail me.

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Tai Chi Sites

If you are aware of any other good links for Tai Chi Sites, or would like your Home Page listed please e-mail me :

TAI CHI Schools

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Chi Kung Sites

If you are aware of any other good links for Chi Kung (QiQong), please e-mail me :

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Misc Sites

I will be adding misc. martial arts information here.

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What is Tai Chi Chuan ?

It is an ancient form of meditative exercise, originating in China, used to improve and maintain good health, increase longevity and as a means of self-defence. It is practised by hundreds of millions of people around the world and can be recognised by it’s slow, captivating movements.

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What does Tai Chi Chuan mean ?

The words can be literally translated as Tai - supreme, Chi - ultimate, Chuan - boxing. Together as a phrase they represent an expression of living life to it's fullest, bending like bamboo in the face of even the strongest winds, while continuing to grow supple and strong

 

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Where does Tai Chi Chuan come from ?

The origins of tai Chi Chuan (usually shortened to Tai Chi) are lost in time. Although descriptions of individual postures and their principles have been found from records over 3,500 years old, tradition puts the creation of the first set of recognisable postures with Chang san Feng, a monk living in the mountains of China about 600 years ago. From his meditations and experiences he understood how in time that which remains soft and pliant endures while that which is hard and rigid withers, as water and wind wear down even the tallest mountains. This resulted in a series of movements which follow natural principles and assist in the development of an internal understanding. These movements were arranged in a martial form to encourage participation and for practical benefit. In more recent times several styles have developed, the most popular of which is the Yang style, named after the Yang family.

 

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Reasons for practising Tai Chi

There are many reasons for practising Tai Chi, to improve health, increase energy, as moving meditation to quieten and focus the mind, to understand ones nature and for self defence. tai Chi is primarily practised for health reasons today. It's slow movements allow even the stiffest and most tense person the opportunity to relax and strengthen their body without risk of strain or injury. Many people begin tai Chi with injuries or ill health and their primary focus is a means of aiding recovery, particularly with systemic problems like rheumatism, stress related problems and structural problems like back pains and knee injuries. At it's most profound levels Tai Chi leads to a greater understanding of all aspects of life, physical, mental and spiritual.

 

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Why Tai Chi is called an 'internal art'.

Tai Chi is called an internal art for several reasons. The focus of Tai Chi is on the development of internal energy or Chi through movement and meditation. It is this which allows masters of this art to perform their miraculous appearing demonstrations. The progress each student makes internally - mentally and psychologically as well as energetically - is often more important than that made externally. Responding in a relaxed fashion to changes in life, problems that occur and hurdles that arise, is the daily challenge for Tai Chi practitioners. It is all too easy to become trapped in the external and completely miss the internal. To die too early is considered its ultimate failure.

 

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 Initial Benefits of practising Tai Chi

The first noticeable benefit is usually an increase in a feeling of relaxation and well being. In the first class a student should begin to sense their own energy or chi. After a short period of time a student will

feel this sensitivity increase and begin to improve their relaxation and energy circulation. Becoming aware of where tension is held and how to relax and soften (without becoming limp and lifeless) results in a calmer, more relaxed body and mind with an ability to do more at any moment in time. Regular practice is the key to progress.

 

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Tai Chi as a Martial Art

Tai Chi is an extremely effective martial art, although this is not emphasised initially. The student must first grasp the fundamental principles of Tai Chi. However, each posture contains many Martial applications. Two person work (push hands) is used to develop sensitivity and understanding, with the goal of understanding oneself and one's partner in the same moment. Using internal energy as a martial art is the result of many years of dedicated practice. However, the use of it's principles as a means of self-defence is immediate

 

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Who can practise Tai Chi ?

The delight of Tai Chi is that anyone can practise it, anytime, anywhere and in almost any state of mobile health. There is no age limit. In China some people take up Tai Chi at an early age. Primarily it is studied by adults, the external arts being easier for children to follow as they require less mental discipline

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 Tai Chi for Older People Reduces Falls,

The information provided on this page comes from The National Institute on Aging and National Institute of Health.

Tai Chi, a martial arts form that enhances balance and body awareness through slow, graceful, and precise body movements, can significantly cut the risk of falls among older people and may be beneficial in maintaining gains made by people age 70 and older who undergo other types of balance and strength training. The news comes in two reports appearing in the May 1996 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The two studies are the first involving Tai Chi to be reported by scientists in a special frailty reduction program sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (NIA).

In the first study, Steven L. Wolf, Ph.D., and colleagues at the Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Ga., found that older people taking part in a 15-week Tai Chi program reduced their risk of falling by 47.5 percent. A second study, by Leslie Wolfson, M.D., and colleagues at the University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, found that several interventions to improve balance and strength among older people were effective. These improvements, particularly in strength, were preserved over a 6-month period while participants did Tai Chi exercises.

The projects are among several in the NIA's Frailty and Injuries: Cooperative Studies of Intervention Techniques, or FICSIT, initiative, launched in 1990 to improve physical function in old age.

Research from these and other FICSIT trials has demonstrated the benefits of strength training for older people and the value and cost-effectiveness of targeted, fall prevention programs for the elderly. It is estimated that each year falls are responsible for costs of over $12 billion in the U.S., and the costs due to physical frailty are much higher.

The news on Tai Chi is a reminder that relatively "low tech" approaches should not be overlooked in the search for ways to prevent disability and maintain physical performance in late life. "The FICSIT studies have shown that a range of techniques, from the most sophisticated medical interventions to more 'low tech' methods, can help older people avoid frailty and falling," says Chhanda Dutta, Ph.D., Director of Musculoskeletal Research in the NIA's Geriatrics Program. "We must make sure that we look at every approach, especially relatively inexpensive ones like Tai Chi," says Dutta. "People can do this at home and with friends once they have had the proper training."

The Wolf study included 200 participants age 70 and older. The participants were divided into groups for Tai Chi, computerized balance training, and education. In addition to 15 weekly sessions in which they progressed to more complex forms of Tai Chi, the participants were asked to practice at home at least 15 minutes, twice daily. Another group received balance training using a computer-operated balance platform in which participants tried to improve control of their body sway under increasingly difficult conditions. The education group was asked to not change any of its current exercise regimens, and took part in weekly meetings on a variety of topics with a nurse gerontologist.

Wolf's group compared several factors before and after the interventions, and found improvements in certain key areas. The most notable change involved the reduction in the rate of falling for the Tai Chi group. The groups receiving computerized balance platform training did not have significantly lower rates of falling. The Tai Chi participants also took more deliberate steps and decreased their walking speed slightly compared to the other groups. Fear of falling also was reduced for the Tai Chi group. After the intervention, only 8 percent of the Tai Chi group said they feared falling, compared with 23 percent before they had the training.

"The Tai Chi group seemed to have more confidence," says Wolf, noting that "they had an increased sense of being able to do all that they would like to do." Wolf notes that almost half of the Tai Chi participants chose to continue meeting informally after the study was finished.

The Connecticut FICSIT site used sophisticated techniques for balance and strength training. Some 110 participants, averaging age 80, received training for 3 months. They were divided into four groups: one group received balance training in 45-minute sessions three times per week, including a computerized balance platform (of a different type than the one used in the Wolf study) as well as low-tech balance exercises; another took part in resistance training and weight lifting three times a week to improve strength; a third group did both balance and strength training, and a fourth "education" group participated in sessions on fall prevention and stress management. Everyone in the study took part in weekly Tai Chi classes for 6 months following the intensive training period.

The people in the study were evaluated before undergoing any training, immediately after the training, and after a 6-month follow-up Tai Chi program. The interventions of major focus in the study -- intensive balance and strength training -- produced marked effects. Participants had a 25 to 50 percent improvement in three different measures of balance after completing balance training, while strength training resulted in a 17 percent improvement in strength. Some of the gains immediately following the balance and strength training were lost after 6 months of the Tai Chi follow-up program. However, the participants tested significantly higher than they had before the interventions began.

Without a comparable group who did not receive Tai Chi training after exercise training, it is difficult to know for certain whether the Tai Chi contributed to maintaining gains in strength and balance. Wolfson noted that study participants might have done even better at the end of the maintenance phase had they continued the more intensive balance and strength training, but he also suggested that Tai Chi might be further studied as a less intensive way to hold onto the benefits of prior strength and balance training.

The NIA, part of the National Institutes of Health, leads the Federal effort conducting and supporting research on the aging process and the diseases and disabilities that accompany advancing age. The Institute's program focuses on biomedical, clinical, and social and behavioral research, and supports the Claude D. Pepper Older American Independence Centers at medical centers across the U.S., whose research is aimed at maintaining healthy function well into old age.

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Donal O'Beirne
Revised: December 30, 1997.