tai chi

T'ai Chi Ch'uan is a unique, universal and traditional Chinese martial art which leads to deep relaxation, perfect balance and harmony of the mind and the body. It is considered as of one the many styles of Chinese boxing.
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A new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that tai chi seemed as effective as conventional exercise in reducing the waist size of middle age and older adults who suffered from central obesity. The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Hong Kong, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and UCLA, examined more than 500 test subjects 50 years old and above.

The researchers randomly assigned volunteers to one of three groups: a non-exercise group, a group that did aerobic and strength exercises, and a group that practiced Yang style tai chi. Participants in the latter two groups exercised or practiced tai chi for one hour three days a week and were measured after 12 weeks and again after 38 weeks. The group practicing tai chi saw about the same reduction in their waist lines as the group doing standard exercises.


Last week UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, named the Chinese martial art and exercise form tai chi chuan (taijiquan) as one of 35 new entries to its list of the "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity."

China initially nominated tai chi in 2008 but the martial art was rejected at the time as China was considered to have too many national traditions entered for consideration. Since then the number of allowable entries from any country has been reduced to two and then just one. It was finally tai chi's turn for inclusion this year along with 35 other national traditions like Finnish sauna culture. It joins a handful of other martial arts, including silat and capoeira, that have already been named to the cultural heritage list.


On our walk down the martial path, we will find that we cannot rely on our martial arts training as we did when we were younger. That head-high kick gets harder and harder to deliver effectively. The power in that once-awesome reverse punch seems to slip, regardless of how much time we invest in practice. Such decreases in physical agility, whether because of injuries or the aging process, will eventually force us to adjust our workout routines. How do we, as lifelong martial artists, deal with this? When faced with diminishing speed, power and strength, many people cease training altogether. Others seek out alternative methods. Note that use of the word “alternative” confers no hint of settling for second best even though many people enter this phase in their journey with exactly that feeling. The fact is, these alternatives often prove superior to the way we did things before. That’s because the methods we followed in our early days were, relatively speaking, simpler and easier to assimilate—which is precisely why they are taught first. Lacking the depth of experience that comes only with time, beginners are capable of digesting only small amounts of all that the martial arts have to offer. Still, even at that early level, we enjoy what we learn, develop skill in it and perfect that skill to the best of our ability. However, because everyone else in our peer group is practicing and playing with basically the same tools, there is little incentive to try anything else. Enter injury and aging. Although viewed as rusty, jagged edges of the same double-edged sword, they are really our allies, not our enemies. I hate those nagging injuries as much as the next person because they keep me from reaching higher levels of physical skill. I feel the same way about aging, and I still fight it tooth and nail, but I am—at least at this point in my training—beginning to taste and appreciate lemonade. What do I mean? Well, there’s an old saying that goes something like this: “When you’re stuck with lemons, you can either put on a sour face, or you can make lemonade.” Here, then, are our lemons:

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