|Health or fitness?|
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Tai chi for health
The modern perception of tai chi for health revolves around the idea that tai chi will miraculously heal up all ailments. Without any real exercise, diet or lifestyle change.
Like some sort of elixir. This is a very pleasant fantasy albeit somewhat ludicrous.
Fix me up
Doctors often suggest tai chi to people who are overweight, stressed or suffering from fatigue. The well-meaning doctor is hoping that the patient will take responsibility for their own wellbeing.
Instead of taking responsibility, the patient wants the tai chi teacher to fix them up or at the very least listen to their lengthy catalogue of medical complaints.
When people come in the hope of being fixed-up, they are quite perturbed to be faced with actual exercise. And are surprised when asked to join in with the rest of the class.
Prevention or cure?
Although many people seek to use tai chi as a means of curing illness, this is not where its strength lies. Tai chi is best employed whilst healthy, not sick.
When a healthy person does tai chi they are more apt to remain healthy. It takes far less effort to prevent something than to cure it...
Tai chi for fitness
Not everyone wants to learn a martial art nor are they seeking to address health issues. But they do want to get fit without any risk of injuries. Tai chi for fitness is ideal.
The syllabus includes:
Standing qigong (various)
Moving qigong (4 sets)
Long Yang form
Balls & grips
Cardio work (2 sets)
Core strength (3 sets)
Leg stretches (2 sets)
Psoas exercises (4)
Taoist Yoga (3 sets)
A person who wants tai chi to address health concerns normally comes to class with a very different attitude to a fitness student. Usually the health student is reluctant to exercise.
Often they complain because they wanted the qi (breath) to do all the work... Or their commitment is lacklustre.
By contrast, a fitness student relishes the challenge of new and interesting exercises. They are very curious about ergonomics, whole-body strength, balance, coordination and alignment.
Tai chi involves work
A person who wants to get fit normally has a positive mental attitude and fully expects to have to work to get fit.
Students with health problems are seldom willing to take responsibility for their own wellbeing.
What do we teach?
Some tai chi classes are geared towards addressing ailments e.g. arthritis or mental health issues. Our class is not. We are primarily teaching tai chi for fitness and taijiquan.
If you are looking for medical assistance, please consider another tai chi school. It is not our forte.
I've been trying to get this point over for years. It's mainly
prevalent in the qigong world. We're not doctors. If students train
regularly then they may gain health benefits but we can't pretend we can
cure them! So many times I've seen last-gap causes who are often very
over-weight and have done no exercise who have been referred to by doctors.
The reality is that we can offer assistance for those who are prepared to
train but most doctors have little idea of what is actually happening in a
tai chi class and, then again, there is such a variety of aspects taught in
the many differing classes available.
5 December 1999
Last updated 21 February 2018