Why Taiji and Qigong?
Carol Harradine, Instructor (Zhong Ding International Martial Arts Association)
Dr Don Harradine, Master Instructor and Education officer for the Zhong Ding International Martial Arts Association
Taiji (generally known as Tai Chi) and Qigong (Pronounced Chi-Gung) have been in, various forms, taught and practiced for thousands of years, although it is doubtful that the systems of today are the same as those of the ancient past. They are often referred to as the internal arts, for many varying reasons, however, it is true to say that they deal with the internal health and well-being of the practitioner making that the important aspect and not the external appearance. In China thousands of people still practice the internal arts in the parks and open spaces to this day. Taiji is internationally recognised as a martial art but for most people around the World it is practiced as a spiritual and physical exercise for all ages and abilities.
The health benefits of these gentle exercises have been adopted by health professionals and there are numerous scientific studies that justify the practice of these arts for health and wellbeing. Taiji and Qigong have therefore been promoted in hospitals for many types of patients dealing with: general aches and pains; to arthritis; back pain; fibromyalgia; and more chronic problems.
Taiji/Qigong can be adapted to allow persons of any age to learn and practice these gentle exercises, whether you are standing, seated or laying down. There is, therefore, no excuse for learning and practicing to improve health and wellbeing.
Some of the many benefits potentially are as follows with regular training:
- Helps with concentration and memory;
- Improves balance;
- Improves breathing difficulties;
- Assists bone density and muscle strength;
- Improves your core strength;
- Helps with co-ordination;
- Develops flexibility;
- Assist with blood pressure issues;
- Reduces stress levels; and
- Helps with relaxation.
Taiji can also be used as a martial art for those that are interested in this aspect. As can be seen the benefits are numerous but like so many things it must be tried to be appreciated!
There are many Taiji styles and forms plus thousands of Qigong exercises and systems. There are several Taiji ‘families’ and each has their own unique style and flavour; and within each there are many variations depending on the exact lineage of a particular teacher.
The main Taiji styles you may encounter are:
- Cheng Man Ching;
- Wu (old and new);
There are therefore many different approaches that the student can adopt and the best advice is to explore the styles and teachers until you find ones that suite your requirements. The best advice we can give is to ask your prospective teacher about their “lineage” to ensure they are teaching an authentic and therefore proven system with the knowledge and experience of many generations of Taiji and Qigong masters behind them and that they are appropriately qualified and insured to be your guide. Taiji and Qigong are not quick fixes but arts that require to be worked at to get the benefits and for this you need the best guides you can get. Quick and easy fixes are few and far between!
Once you are happy and comfortable with your instructor, and what that person can teach, the process of gaining the joy of the internal arts can begin. You will learn in your own time and pace in classes and eventually it will become a part of your life and you should start to feel the benefits quickly. But as stated above the real benefits come from diligence and hard work.
All we can say is come and give Taiji/Qigong a go: you will not know if this is for you until you give it a try!
If you are interested in demonstrations and taster sessions come to:
- The Lincolnshire Well Being Show – Saturday 27th July and Sunday 28th July and later in the year on the 9th and 10th of November; at the Lincolnshire Showground, Epic Centre, LN2 2NA;
- Newstead Abbey Well Being Show – 31st August to 1st September Ravenshead, off Mansfield Road, Nottinghamshire, NG15 8NA; and
- The Nottingham Health and Well Being Show – Saturday 26th October and Sunday 27th October; at the Jubilee Conference Centre, Nottingham, NG7 2TU.
About the Authors:
Carol has been a practitioner and teacher of Taiji and Qigong for 25 years. She has specialised during this time teaching systems that benefit those with chronic diseases, in particular, arthritis. She has taught all age groups and levels of ability and is of the opinion that the internal arts have something to offer everyone.
Dr Don Harradine, PhD, (6th Duan Master Instructor and Education Officer for the Zhong Ding International Martial Arts Association.
Don has been a practitioner and teacher of Taiji, Qigong, Silat Tua and other internal arts for nearly thirty years. He has studied in the UK as well as Malaysia and China. He is an indoor disciple in Taiji and one of the few non Malaysians who have undertaken and passed the traditional tests in Silat Tua and other Silat traditions. He believes that these arts are to be shared to all who might benefit.