Elements of Tai Chi

A Tai Chi class can be a surprisingly challenging workout, but it doesn’t have to be. Every exercise can be made as hard or as easy as you need it to be. If you’ve an injury, or just had a hard day, you can still gain a benefit without wide stances or testing the limits of human flexibility.

But as you progress, or just want to push yourself, it’s always possible to make the exercises harder. In the classes we move at a comfortable pace, but you’re in control, so listen to your own body.

The ingredients of a class

The Warm up

A series of warm up exercises form the starting point for every session and prepare the body to gain maximum benefit form the following activities. However these exercises themselves improve balance and flexibility in addition to developing strength.

A key feature is that they can be practiced in such a way as to accommodate your own physical condition, you can make the exercises as gentle or vigorous as your body tells you is appropriate depending on whether you’re nursing an injury, tired after a hard day, or fit and ready for a workout.

Chi Gong

These dynamic breathing exercises, or Chi Gong, are moving meditation techniques that aid the development and flow of energy whilst greatly improving your balance and strength.

Martial Applications for self defence and health

Tai Chi is an soft style, or internal, martial art and as such its martial practice focuses on balance, leverage and redirection rather than brute force. This make it very suitable for self-defence when faced with an attacker of much greater power.

Pushing hands is an exercise about balance and sensitivity that helps connect the movements of Tai Chi forms with their martial roots. Working in pairs the intention is to protect your own balance whilst disrupting that of your opponent, all without the use of force, by redirecting their own movements.

This requires the players to be constantly aware of their own centre of balance, reacting instinctively with proper technique to deflect attacks. This must be combined with a sensitivity to the state of their opponent, trying to exploit any errors that arise during the continuous movement.

The Lee Style Form

The Lee Style Form that comprises 140 individual movements. This is what most people envisage when they think about Tai Chi, and it might seem strange that we only spend a quarter of the training session on this important aspect. However, done properly the Form is very demanding both mentally and physically.