Tai Chi is one of the most popular forms of exercise among martial artists. Tai chi was developed over 500 years ago by Master Ip Man (1838-1916). Its origins are in China and it has been practiced there ever since. Today, tai chi is practiced worldwide, but its roots lie in Asia and it’s main practitioners are Chinese immigrants living in New York City.
The first recorded use of the word “chi” in English was in 1851 when John Henry Mackay used it to refer to the energy produced during a horseback ride. Since then, the term has come into general usage and is now used to mean any type of mental or spiritual practice.
It is believed that tai chi originated from the ancient art of qigong, which means “wind dance.” The two arts have similar concepts: relaxation, breathing techniques, meditation and visualization.
Although tai chi is primarily practiced in Asia, it has found many adherents throughout the world. There are different styles of tai chi and each style incorporates elements of other traditional Asian disciplines such as kung fu, Aikido and Qi Gong. Some believe that tai chi is a form of yoga; however, there is no consensus on this point.
The tai chi practitioner participates in a slow, gentle series of movements designed to promote relaxation and well-being. The practice of tai chi requires a quiet area where the patient can be alone.
The physical benefits of tai chi include:
increasing muscle strength and flexibility; improving posture, balance and coordination; reducing stress and tension; building energy and vitality; alleviating pain; increasing self-confidence and discipline.
The health benefits of tai chi include:
lowering blood pressure; strengthening the heart and lungs; building muscle; relieving back pain; improving mental concentration; promoting a sense of well-being.
Many people do tai chi for its spiritual benefits and to connect with the practitioner’s “true self.” Tai chi can help build a strong mind, body and spirit connection. It teaches patience, dedication and humility.
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