Tai Chi: the health/martial arts link

The Tai chi group at Shefford which practices at the Community Hall in Ampthill Road every Sunday from 19.00 to 21.00 hrs explores the link between martial arts and health through their practice of Tai Chi, which is widely recognised as excellent for both.

Instructor Ian Deavin explains that the soft gentle movements help to develop the body's intrinsic strength that is to say it's connective tissue and tendons, and optimises postural integrity, even in fast movement. This improves balance and together with development of long twitch muscle fibres these promote a relaxed state of readiness in the muscles, which aids suppleness, long-term mobility, endurance and cardio-vascular recovery.

Tai Chi movements work from the body's centre of action, which maximises balance in dynamic movement. This has been shown to improve balance and reduce falls in older age groups. It also provides an excellent basis for cross training in other sporting or exercise disciplines.

Focus on postural structure aids balance and minimises the effort required to maintain good posture while ensuring that joints are used optimally and comfortably.

Practicing with a quiet mind and a quiet body minimises conscious interruptions and aids relaxation. By relaxing the body and easing joints, improving posture, it is believed that we reduce long held tensions derived from emotionally stressing experiences, and so we also prepare the body to better deal with present/future stress. A relaxed mind = a relaxed body and vice versa.

This very gentle holistic approach extends to working with partners, where practitioners learn co-operatively to deal with a range of body movements, while developing trust and allowing themselves to become more open and vulnerable. They also learn how to better deal with physical contact whether desired or unwanted.

Ultimately Tai Chi practice leads to development of self-awareness and so promotes understanding of self and of others, at physiological and psychological levels.

In the achievement of continuing development Tai-Chi practice provides a bodywork approach to dealing with mental/emotional health issues, which can present limits to physical ability. For example the belief that:

" I can't do that I'm too old, too fat, too thin, too female, too male or - will fall over, will get hurt , will get hit, etc. "

will invariably prove to be self-fulfilling, but is often simply an artificial fear based mental/emotional construct, or "block", that can usually be demonstrated as untrue given the will on the part of the individual to discover their own potential.

Ian believes that this intellectual study of a deeply emotionally connected physical activity provides a way of co-ordinating mental/emotional/physical energies, leading to congruent behaviour, which is beneficial to both holistic health and to development of martial skill.

Ian explains that training for development of health is defined as "Tai Chi" - training for martial skill is defined as "Tai-Chi Chuan" and involves additional, more strenuous work for which the development of a healthy body is first required. Even if martial skill is the goal, focus on healthy body usage is crucial.

For further information visit www.sheffordtaichi.org or contact Ian on 01462 621970 e:ian.deavin@btconnect.com

About the author:

Ian is an experienced practitioner and teacher who has studied Tai Chi in Beijing, Hong Kong, France and the UK. He is BCCMA recognised (British Council for Chinese Marshall Arts) and a member of the Chinese Internal Arts Association. He is also a Karate 4th Dan

Website: http://www.sheffordtaichi.org

Author: Ian Deavin
Copyright © 2023 Ian Deavin. All rights reserved

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