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T’ai Chi Facts: A Beginner’s Guide

1. The terms T’ai Chi and T’ai Chi Ch’uan are not different. They both mean the same thing. T’ai Chi is just the shorter version of T’ai Chi Ch’uan. T’ai Chi Ch’uan means ‘Supreme Ultimate Fist’ and is derived from a series of kung fu fighting techniques. But in reality, it can be applied as both a therapeutic activity and a form of self-defence.

2. T’ai Chi classes can vary in size and the age range can be between teens and up to the 80s. You won’t see many children in these classes, because they easily become bored with the slow movements. Men and women enrol in the class and it’s unusual to see a men-only or women-only class within a T’ai Chi program. Generally, it’s much more beneficial if men and women mix because of the energy generated inside the class.

3. Being fit is not a requirement to start T’ai Chi. It’s okay if you’re stout, thin or overweight. But if you’ve undergone certain medical treatments, ask your doctor if T’ai Chi is OK for you. And if your doctor has given you the all clear, tell your teacher about any disability you may have so he can adjust or restrict movements you might find difficult.

4. T’ai Chi is both an exercise and a martial art. But there are teachers that teach only the movements for health. It’s fair to say that at least 80% of those who’re engaged in the art embrace the idea of T’ai Chi being a health pursuit. So if you think you want the self-defence aspect more than an exercise, then you would probably be better off studying kung fu. But if you’re the type who wants the best of both worlds, then T’ai Chi is best for you.

5. T’ai Chi is an internal martial art characterized by soft movements. It’s performed at a slower speed than other kinds of martial art.

6. Don’t worry about what to wear in a T’ai Chi class. Special clothing is not a requirement. You just have to wear something really comfortable like sneakers, T-shirts and jogging pants. Remember, it must be something that’ll allow you to move freely while performing every move. Never wear jeans or any constrictive clothing.

7. Other things you may expect to learn in a T’ai Chi class are Qigong or Push hands. This is an exercise that requires two persons who exchange energy by performing movements against each other. And depending on the teacher, you may even learn the use of weapons, like swords. These will be used in advanced classes and those who are taught these skills are the ones who have already learned the basics of T’ai Chi.

If you want to learn more in-depth facts and information about T’ai Chi, then grab a copy of Dr. Stewart McFarlane’s ‘T’ai Chi For Life, Health and Fitness’.

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