Do you know that tai chi movements are practiced by people of all ages but there are some complexities attached to it that one should keep in mind? Read this article to know about different movements and the disadvantages of tai chi movements if one is not trained properly.
People perform different sorts of exercises for their mental and physical health. One such exercise is called tai chi which originated in China and due to its prevailing benefits is practiced by people all over the world to nourish their bodies and mind.
Tai chi is a convenient martial art option because it is easy to learn and depends on the capability of the person. If a person is highly trained in this department then he can practice advanced level movement and if a person is at a beginning level or just practices rarely then he will focus more on the high stance movements.
There are many advantages of tai chi for everybody including people suffering from physical or mental problems but there are some disadvantages of tai chi if a person practices its movements in an ill manner. This article covers the complexities related to tai chi, the different movements practiced, and what makes it a suitable choice for people.
Table of Contents
Origin of tai chi
Tai chi is an ancient martial art that originated in the region of China and traces back thousands of years ago. Philosophy and martial arts are deeply rooted in the history of China hence, Tao chi is based on the principles of Taoist philosophy which revolves around the idea of living in harmony with nature.
According to Taoism, there are two opposite forces of nature called yin and yang, they exist in unity where effort towards one can bring the other into action too so one should attain balance in everything. The exercises in tai chi are based on this concept of balance between yin and yang as things in harmony can lead to peace. This balance should not only be restricted to thoughts but also to actions in life.
In the late 16th century, Chen Wangting founded a Chen-Style taijiquan based on the spiral force of contrasting two opposite movements fast and slow. With the passage of time, it transformed into a modern style of tai chi. In the modern world, tai chi is considered a sport and is practiced all over the world because of its health benefits and rehabilitation.
What is tai chi?
It is a series of movements that allows the flow of energy from your body. It is a collaborative motion of mind and body that has been introduced as a martial art but can also prevent people from several health problems. It is different from other types of physical exercises because it helps your muscles to relax and your tissues to not stretch hence easily practiced by people of all ages. It is even recommended by physicians for people suffering from any physical ailment.
Tai chi movements
Though Tai chi comes under the definition of martial arts, it is not an intense level martial arts exercise like MMA, Taekwondo, or JIU-jitsu. It is comparatively an easier exercise that most people belonging to all age groups can do or learn which is why people suffering from any physical dysfunctionality also practice it to improve their muscle movement. However, there are some levels of tai chi that depend on the capability and practice of the person.
If you are interested in some physical activity then you can start practicing tai chi as it is easier to learn but one should always consult their physician before starting tai chi exercises if he is suffering from any physical abnormality so that tai chi does not affect in any negative way.
There are several tai chi classes held where you can learn its exercises. These exercises are called tai chi movements and there are 108 movements of tai chi practiced all over the world.
A person does not need to learn and practice all these 108 movements as a beginner one should start with a few easy movements and then moving forward can increase the number of movements. People who start tai chi at home can learn these movements gradually as they do not have a proper instructor to guide them and help them be consistent. Some of these exercises are mentioned below:
For this movement, firstly you need to stand in an upright position, look in the forward direction and join both of your feet. Now move one of your feet away from the other by taking a step in the horizontal direction. Next, raise both of your hands evenly to shoulder level. Lastly, move your hands in a downward direction and bend your knees a little to release the energy.
Part horse’s mane on both sides:
Make a posture with your hands as if you are holding a big ball and put all your weight on one leg then move this ball to the right leg moving the right side horizontally. Now put your weight on the other leg slowly. Pretend again as if you are holding a ball while slowly shifting the weight to the other leg. Do the same movement one more time.
White crane spreads its wings:
Put your weight on one leg and slightly raise the other leg while making a ball-holding posture. Now slightly shift the weight to the other leg and turn around opening your hands vertically.
Brush knee and twist step:
Slightly rotate on either side and shift weight to the side you move while putting one hand on the elbow of the other hand. Now shift the weight and put your hand in the forward direction with a curve movement. Repeat this same movement again.
Hands strum the lute:
Take a half step from any of the feet. Now put your hands in the forward direction and put one hand near the waist and the other in the front.
Step back and whirl hands (repulse the monkey):
Move in the backward direction by taking a step from one leg while rotating your hand in the upward direction and pushing the left hand in the forward direction. Now repeat the same movement but switch the sides.
Grasp the peacock tail (left side):
Firstly rotate your right leg and take a partial step while holding a ball then take a bow step and ward off. Move in the forward and backward position focusing on the center of gravity.
Grasp the peacock’s tail (right side):
Firstly rotate your left leg and take a partial step while holding a ball then take a bow step and ward off. Move in the forward and backward position focusing on the center of gravity.
Move your hands forward and wave both hands in either direction. At the same time take a step apart from your feet. Now take a step in the other direction and rotate your hands.
Wave hands like clouds:
Rotate your left leg and move the right foot in the forward direction. Now make a waving posture with your hands and drift to the left. Then again make the waving posture but drift to the right.
With your hands, bunch a hook and take a partial step. Now step towards the left direction, rotate swiftly, and push your left hand. Now land your left foot slightly and form a bow with your right foot.
Pat high on the horse:
Put your weight on the left foot and take a partial step from the right foot while your right hook changes into your palm. Move your right hand to the right ear and move your left hand in the backward direction
Kick with right heel:
Make a bow step and form a partial step with one leg while crossing both hands in front of your chest. Now raise the knee of the other side and separate both palms and move in the outward direction with your finger towards the upward direction.
Strike the opponent’s ears with both fists:
Drop your right foot while moving the palms of your hands toward the outward direction of the right knee. Make a bow step towards the right side while changing the posture of your hands into fists and strike.
Kick with left heel:
Move your right leg while rotating it and forming an empty step. You should cross your hands while moving your left hand in the outwards direction. Now raise your left knee and move slightly by pretending to kick with your left leg. Your hands should now separate and move in the outward direction while pointing upwards.
Push down and stand on left leg:
Move your left leg while your waist turns in the right direction and your hand to the right. Now take a step while bending your knees while your left hand moves towards your waist. Shift your weight slightly to the left side while moving one hand in the upwards direction and the other pressed downward.
Push down and stand on right leg:
Move your right leg and then pretend to lend your right toe while rotating the left foot. Turn your waist slightly to the left side and move your right hand to the left axilla. Make a crouching step with your right leg while moving your right hand through your chest to your abdomen. Now shift all your weight to the other side and stand on that side while moving your left hand in the upward direction just adobe the left knee.
Fair lady works at the shuttle:
Move in the forward direction by taking a step with your right leg only while pulling the right leg nearer to the left. Pretend to hold a big ball with your hands. Now make a bow step with your right foot while rotating your right arm and pushing your left palm in the outwards direction.
Lastly, rotate your right foot to make an empty step while holding a ball and make a bow step with the left foot while rotating your left arm and pushing your right palm in the outwards direction.
Needle at the bottom of the sea:
Move your one leg and take a step forwards while raising both hands. Now Brush your left knee while moving your right hand down in the forward direction.
Push through the back:
Move your body slightly to the right side while raising your hands. Now make a bow step with your left leg while your left palm pushes in the forward direction and your right palm in front of your face.
Turn body, deflect, parry and punch:
Rotate your left heel and turn your body while making a fist with your hands and moving it through the axilla. Now take a step forward and pretend to do a parry with your left hand. Then move your right fist in the forward direction as if you are punching someone.
It only involves your hand where you have to move your hands in the inward and downward direction. Then move both hands in the upward and forward direction as if you are pressing something in the forward direction.
Move your left heel and right heel in a rotating direction. Now Open both of your arms and separate the hands. Cross your hands in front of the chest and lastly press your hands downward slowly moving them to the hips.
This form is to relax the whole body. You have to put your feet together in a free manner and slowly move your hands along your thigh area.
Additional tai chi movements to do at home:
Apart from proper movements taught in the classes by professionals, one can include some easy additional exercises that can prolong your physical activity in a tai chi session. These can also help you with learning intense tai chi movements in the future. These additional tai chi movements include:
- Add yoga positions in the session to improve the flexibility in your body.
- You can run on a treadmill which can also be counted as your warm-up.
- You can try squads to enhance your leg posture
What is Qigong?
It is an ancient meditation technique where your body experiences spiritual and mental betterment. It consists of poised breathing, meditation, and gentle movement of the body. It is not a martial art but is associated with tai chi because doing it in tai chi classes helps one improve physical balance and build focus.
Tai chi meditation techniques
Change into loose clothes and fitted shoes. The surface should be such that it grips your posture. Do not jump directly to the exercise and start with a warm-up first by walking or slowly moving your arms and legs. Additionally, you can also take a shower before the exercise which will not only warm up your muscles but also make you fresh and alert for the session.
Tai chi equipment
You do not require a lot of equipment or tools to start tai chi but there are some pieces of equipment that one should know before practicing the exercises:
- Shoes: Tai chi exercises should not be practiced barefoot as they can cause an injury or twist your ankle. One should go for comfy and sturdy shoes like trainers, joggers, or kung fu shoes for tai chi exercises.
- Tai chi sword: This is for expert learners and beginners can start tai chi exercises without a sword. If you want to learn advanced-level tai chi then you can add a tai chi sword to your equipment.
Is tai chi safe for everyone?
Your body and mind both benefit from tai chi exercises and for that reason, people of all ages, especially older ages, are advised to practice tai chi exercises by their physicians. However, one should start off with basic physical movements and not instantly start the difficult movements. He must also practice it on a strong grip surface because a slippery surface can increase the risk of any sort of injury.
Are there any disadvantages of tai chi?
It is widely acknowledged that tai chi is beneficial for muscle strength and helps one fight against several diseases such as Parkinson’s, low bone density, arthritis, etc as it helps to improve the balance of the human body but there can be a risk of some injuries and pains. Which are:
Knee pain and joint injuries due to tai chi
Any exercise practiced in an ill form can give birth to knee pain or can make an already existing pain worse. People when starting off with tai chi movements, people have this fear of knee pain or injury because it involves bent knee leg stances. One should make sure to focus on the alignment of the body during each stance to avoid any chance of knee injury or joint pain.
In most of the forms of tai chi, we have to shift from one posture to the other so the weight also gets shifted to the posture we move in. During this shift of weight, if the twisting pressure is exerted on the knee joints it can lead to soreness, pain, or even knee injuries. For example in the shoulder stroke exercises, the weight remains on one leg and then the direction is changed through the turn without realigning the foot. This turn inserts the stress on the knee and forces it to twist which can be challenging for some people.
It will not be a problem if it gets handled by the body safely but if one is not an expert he can suffer from a knee injury. If you start to practice the movements without any proper guidance then it is possible that the movement can result in undue stress on supporting muscles and injure the knee.
However, for accurate alignments and appropriate postures, one should initiate tai chi under the guidance of an instructor so that he can teach you how to properly align your body in every single movement. He will make you start with precautionary movements so that you do not bend the knees too deep and put unbearable pressure on them. As your muscles become flexible and strong, he will extend the movements to lower stances too so that you can deepen your legs.
Is taekwondo better than tai chi?
Tai chi is based on meditation and martial art movements so it refers to the physical and mental development of the person while taekwondo is based entirely on physical involvement teaching people about self-defending and attacking measures. However, tai chi can also be used for self-defense but it answers the attack with soft moves whereas taekwondo answers the attack with equally hard and firm moves.
If one is interested in practicing an exercise that can help him maintain the balance of his physical and mental health then tai chi is a better choice whereas if one is interested in an aggressive form of kicking and punching techniques then he should opt for taekwondo.
An ancient martial art called tai chi is based on the Taoist philosophy of balancing two opposite forces of nature. It transmits the weight and energy from one part of your body to the other and lets the energy flow out for mental and physical harmony. This has not only been beneficial for healthy people to become more composed but also the people suffering from any disorder such as Arthritis and Parkinson’s.
There are numerous tai chi movements that one can learn over a period of time and progress in it but it is recommended to practice it initially under the supervision of a professional instructor to avoid any sort of knee or joint injury.