According to the ancient Chinese medical text the Nei Jing, giving a person medicine after he became ill was like going to war and he only starts to make weapons or digging a well after he gets thirsty. The idea to prevent illness rather than treating it because it was much easier to do, developed early and was part of the Chinese medical system which later became an integral part of Chinese culture. This idea was adopted by the ancient Chinese physicians who advised their patients to exercise and diet. Today, this system is what we would refer to as “preventative medicine”.
The establishment of movement exercises originated out of the notion that one needed to exercise in order to prevent illness. In the improvement of health, one exercise that came out of this concept was the Tai Chi Chuan or just Tai Chi. According to Chinese legend, Tai Chi was believed to have started around 1279 to 1368 A.D. by Chang San Feng, a Taoist monk. Chang wrote the book Tai Chi Jing, which is the earliest known book portraying the qualities of the movements of Tai Chi. His book discussed fundamental Tai Chi principles and said that like a great river that unceasingly flows, the Tai Chi practitioner should be powerful, steady, flowing, and smooth.
In the late 1960’s, the United States was first introduced to the practice of Tai Chi. At the onset people didn’t know what the slow movements were all about. But over the course of time, a lot of Americans are now practicing it, many of them outdoors – in fact, it is often included in movies and seen in television commercials. But what can tai chi exactly do for you and what does this exercise do to your health and wellbeing?
A sequence of interconnected and slow movements that originated from martial art techniques is at the foundation of Tai Chi. In modern times, most people practice tai chi because of its health benefits rather than for its martial art gains. The movements of Tai Chi are generally referred to as “the form” which is very similar to a “kata,” a Japanese style of Karate. Katas or forms are basically “lexicography of movements” for styles of self-defense. They provide a student of martial art a technique to remember and then perform the various skills they have learned.
When learning Tai Chi, you’re taught simple movements that connect together. Over time, if regularly practiced, you will gain important health benefits such as better flexibility and balance and since Tai Chi, by nature, is meditative, it can also aid in stress relief. Tai Chi helps improve and complements all other activities and exercises by instructing us how to move in a relaxed way.
There are several reasons why Tai Chi has become such a widely practiced exercise. One reason is anyone can learn the exercises. It is common for practitioners to begin in their middle-age because the exercise isn’t stressful. They then are able to continue practicing it well into their senior years. Recent research has shown that people practicing Tai Chi are less likely to experience Shingles outbreaks, have a lower risk of falls, and have lower blood pressure. One other reason it is popular is it does not require special equipment and clothing. You can even practice tai chi alone by yourself naked. People may practice tai chi in minimal space and in dry, wet, uneven, rough, or smooth terrain. But the greatest reason to practice it is that you’ll feel better every time you do it and its effects accrue with time.