Our guide to tai chi
Kristina K

Our guide to tai chi

First published date November 26 2013 Amended date April 17 2015

Have you seen people waving their arms around in parks or heard the lines; imagine you’ve got a big watermelon, cut it in half, half for you and half for me, all the while making big, round hand gesticulations? Well, that’s Tai Chi. Contrary to the misconception that Tai Chi’s slow and boring, this exercise has a string of benefits and promotes positive well being. Enrol on a Tai Chi course to understanding the power of Tai Chi or try out the more advanced classes if you’re already an experienced student.


What is tai chi?

Tai Chi is a universal exercise that promotes harmony and friendship in the community. Known for its elegance and gentle movements, Tai Chi helps circulate the ‘qi’ in your body. Qi is the Chinese term for life energy or life spirit, a vital force that flows through all living things. With the right techniques, you can stimulate and awaken this qi energy for the betterment of your health, general well being and happiness.  


Different styles

There are five main tai chi styles; the Yang Wu, Chen, Hao and combination styles. The Chen is the original style, also the most athletic and physically difficult which incorporates a lot of jumping kicks and stamping actions. The Yang style is most widely practised today while the Wu style is the second most popular, emphasizing on smaller and more compact movements compared to the Yang. The combination style mixes all styles, including movements from other martial arts. Whatever style you choose, we have them on our part time and distance learning courses. 


Benefits of Tai Chi

Tai Chi helps reduce stress and anxiety. The graceful exercises are known to improve health conditions such as reducing blood pressure, increasing oxygen intake and utilisation, strengthening joints and muscles, and improving moods and the immune system.


Find the balance

All of us live in such a fast paced, busy lifestyle that we sometimes fail to stop, breathe and learn to be more appreciative. Tai Chi allows you to do that; with its emphasis on keeping a meditative state of mind. The intimate dialog between mind and body, also described as meditation in motion, is a great way to consciously remind yourself to slow down.


For self defence

Tai Chi was first developed as a martial art. It wasn’t only a practice for health, but a critical skill for defending against attackers and for protecting the Chinese emperor against assassins. Often viewed as a non-competitive exercise for the elderly, tai chi movements train students to apply different fighting applications against their opponents. Once you’ve mastered Tai Chi, you’ll learn to yield to attacks by flowing around obstacles and redirecting the energy of the incoming attack back outward. This is the trademark of Tai Chi. On some classes, you’ll even train with weapons!


Great for the young too

Contrary to popular belief that Tai Chi is only for the old (due to its slow movements), it’s actually a great exercise for kids too! It improves one’s mental concentration, making it helpful for kids who would like to improve their school grades. It also promotes discipline and helps build character, something which we find difficult to teach children these days. So, if you’ve got little ones, nieces or nephews, have a look for kid's Tai Chi classes.


Other similar exercises

If you’d like to try other exercises similar to Tai Chi, have a look at Qi Gong. You’ll learn all about postures and movements of this internal breathing art. Ultimately Qi Gong helps reduce stress, improves empowerment and vitality. The gentle exercises are great for relaxation and concentration.  Or, try out other fitness courses such as yoga, Pilates, boxercise or kickboxing.


Tai Chi tips

When you’re practising Tai Chi, keep in mind some of these tips…

·         Develop a deeper sense of your body and increase your awareness of any held tensions.

·         Understand the foot placement first as it’s your connection to the ground that provides your basis for balance, structure and stability.

·         Spend time doing basic stepping exercises.

·         Regularly check if your breath is centred in your lower abdomen.

·         Tune into your breathing and posture on a regular basis, even when you’re not practising!

·         Focus on your movements coming from the waist and try to allow all of the body to move as one unit.

·         Stay relaxed, smile and enjoy your practice.



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