Sunday, January 22, 2006

Tai Chi - Internal Martial Art

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If you live anywhere near a densely populated or heavily influenced Chinese area, -or- if you are interested in Asian culture, you may have heard of the "internal martial art" of Tai Chi. Perhaps you have drove near a park or a civic center square, for example, and noticed a group of people doing a regimen of exercizes of slow graceful movements, in unison to the tune of an invisible song. That was what my first experience was like of seeing Tai Chi being performed, as a child. My school had taken a trip through Golden Gate Park, and I noticed a group of elderly Chinese people moving ever so slowly and gracefully in one coordinated movement.

I used to wonder, "how are they able to do that at such an old age?". What I thought was simply elderly exercize was really a form of internal martial art. They call it internal martial art because the slow and graceful movements of Tai Chi are said to have healing properties that release the "chi" or "energy" trapped in stagnant areas of the body. The "dantian" or the "belly" area is said to be the place where the chi is concentrated. Tai Chi stimulates "chi" energy but that is not only its sole purpose. While Tai Chi is an internal martial art, with positive effects on lethargy, circulation, muscle and joint flexibily, depression, breathing, and balance coordination, Tai Chi is also used to deflect an attack of an opponent. An opponent may attack physically or using "chi" energy to harm you. This I found quite interesting.

On a personal level, I felt energetic and revitalized afterwards. My endorphins were flooding my system and I felt good. I hadn't felt that way in such a long time. Perhaps the belief of the "chi" energy [which the teacher was describing to us out loud while we were practicing] has something to do with it, but if a skeptic were to be doubtful of the chi energy and its positive effect, still I would benefit from the physical rewards of performing Tai Chi. It's a win win activity. I wish I would have tried it sooner, but I didn't feel too bad since the people in my class were from every age range. There were some older people in their 40's and 50's; some in their 20's; and some right out of highschool. There were a few caucasians, four african americans, a few hispanics and the rest was Asian. I was surprised to see how many people showed up. The room was full.

The teacher is this small Chinese young lady, dressed all in black. She wore white ankle sox and was a petite little thing. Inside my mind, I was secretly glad to see that the teacher was Chinese because while it may be akward to think that only Chinese should be teaching Tai Chi, I just feel better that she was Chinese instead of some hippy caucasian. I know that's horrible but it's just one of those things that I need to work on. Perception.

As a matter of fact, I was surprised at the knowledge that my teacher contained. She is an expert at Tai Chi and knows everything you want to know about Tai Chi including its historical account and various forms. She was trained by a Grand Master and is an expert in the art.

I'm really hoping this is one of those things that I take with me as a life long learning experience...


At 9:59 AM, Blogger heartbreaker said...

man, i need to come on over to the west coast and learn that w/ you... and lol @ hippy caucasion, i understand where u are coming from and yes pa... perception -lol- hey, atleast you're man enough to acknowledge it, and i love that description of the teacher, how else can someone teach unless they've been taught themselves and she's obviously got the experience to teach you that... cool... all i was thinking was "ab workout" lol, seems relaxing, i hope you keep it up, now i have something new to put on my agenda for '06! thanx... holla! ;)

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