Tai chi for health

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Simplified tai chi

Adapted from taijiquan, tai chi for health is a
simplified, non-martial exercise suitable for most adults.
It can be practiced by people of all ages and serves as a daily 'tonic'.

The origin of health practice

Tai chi for health was first popularised by Yang Cheng Fu in the early part of the 20th Century.
This led to the widespread fame of tai chi for health throughout China.

1950's China

Faced with a major health crisis, the People's Republic of China turned to Yang style taijiquan for a solution.
Just think about what that means...
Yang style taijiquan's reputation for health was so well founded that the government of China thought to employ the Art officially as a means of improving wellbeing.
The Art was introduced to schools nationwide.


Modern culture is rife with misleading information concerning tai chi for health.
Tai chi for health:

Is exercise   Not therapy
Is preventative   Not a cure
Requires concentration, work and effort   Not easy
Needs daily home practice   Not a drop-in spa session
Addresses the functionality and wellbeing   Doesn't fix specific medical problems
of the whole body    
Was not designed as a treatment   The teacher is not a doctor
Is about moving/using your body in a   Not dance or performance art
healthy manner    
Is about learning   Not about copying the teacher
Is about taking responsibility for your   The teacher cannot fix you up
own health    
Takes time to have an effect   Not a quick fix
Requires practice, patience and dedication   Not a quick fix

Can usually be practiced by most people

  People with notable health problems need to seek
    out classes that specialise in addressing their issues

Was never intended for the elderly

  Poor memory, balance, mobility and coordination will
    hinder learning and practice
Biomechanics, alignment and sensitivity   Not qi (breath) or magic
Increased physical awareness   Not physiotherapy
The younger you commence tai chi   The later you leave it in life, the harder it will be
 the sooner you gain the benefits   to learn, and the more limited the results


Tai chi for health involves simple movements, easy stretches and cooperative partner work.
The onus is upon relaxation, balance, good poise and coordination.
Students learn how to move their body in a healthy, comfortable way without the risk of injury.

Tai chi frees the body and helps with relaxation and overall circulation.
It activates muscles, sinews and joints in the body. It strengthens physical power without stress.
It maintains youth and aliveness, and slows down the aging process through rejuvenation.
Tai chi calms and collects. It clears and sharpens the mind to help us in focusing and centering our daily activities.
When the body and mind move harmoniously together, the human spirit soars.

The ultimate benefit of tai chi is to experience living in a healthy, wide-awake state of being.

(Chungliang Al Huang)

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...

Day-to-day health

Tai chi for health was designed to renew and refresh your body on a daily basis.
You unkink those unpleasant aches and pains, stiff muscles and sore joints. You gently, softly encourage your body to move freely and comfortably.
Instead of hammering and punishing your body, you treat it with respect and care. Your body must last you a lifetime.
The secret is to practice little and often.


The benefits of tai chi are significant, medically proven and long-lasting:

  1. Stay calm

  2. Develop your memory skills

  3. Mindfulness

  4. Boost energy

  5. Increased brain activity

  6. Cultivate an unusual form of strength

  7. Improved joint function

  8. Feel balanced

  9. Increased stamina and endurance

  10. Release deeply-held muscular tension

  11. Meditation & awareness

  12. Increased flexibility

  13. Coordination

  14. Better focus/concentration

  15. Learn to relax naturally

  16. Improved poise and posture

Long held to be an excellent anti-aging regime, tai chi may indeed be the perfect exercise (Harvard Medical School).

12 weeks

Harvard Medical School reports that most tai chi health trials last at least 12 weeks. They involve instruction once or twice a week supplemented with daily home practice.
By the end of the trial, most participants experienced an improvement in health.
This highlights a major consideration for new starters; it can take some weeks for the health benefits to occur.

Gentle exercise

Tai chi offers a balanced approach to the cultivation of health, vitality and
There is no sweating, straining or panting for breath. There is gain without pain.
You can gently and gradually improve fitness without exertion; providing you practice between lessons.

Motor learning

Motor learning is about the process of using the body, rather than simply exercising the body.
Agility, mobility, relaxed spontaneous movement, balance, structure, alignment, biomechanics, efficiency, ambidextrous body use, joint health, coordination, skill, emotional wellbeing or psychological flexibility.
Taijiquan combines exercise with motor learning.

Fix me up...

Please don't ask us to fix you up.
We are not medical professionals

It is up to you to manage your own medical condition both in and out of class.

Tai chi for fitness

School members who are seeking a more challenging workout can opt to study 'tai chi for fitness'.
This is a more comprehensive syllabus which includes:

  1. Balls & grips

  2. Cardio work (2 sets)

  3. Core strength (3 sets)

  4. Leg stretches (2 sets)

  5. Psoas exercises (4)

  6. Self-massage

  7. Taoist Yoga (4 sets)

Tai chi for health teacher

Expect a teacher to have:

At least 5 years experience
A professional teaching qualification
Membership with a recognised body (i.e. The Tai Chi Union for Great Britain)
At least 10,000 hours of practice behind them
10,000 hours of continued improvement, insight and development


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Page created 11 January 1993
Last updated 18 September 2017