About Tai Chi & Articles

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Tai Chi Chuan

Tai Chi Chuan is a Martial Art, and roughly translates as ‘Supreme Ultimate Fist’. But do not be put off by this as many people practice this ancient Chinese system for health and relaxation benefits. By learning how to move, coordinate and balance your body & mind, you become more aware of yourself and your surroundings. This in itself is a self defence mechanism. You will find many benefits and everyone experiences it in a different way.

There are many different styles of Tai Chi, but the history, philosophy and theory are similar. The movements were inspired by observing animals and the cyclic changes in nature. The flowing circular and spiralling movements portray this and if you have ever seen somebody outside doing this wonderful symbolic dance of life, then it is quite mesmerising and peaceful to watch. They seem totally at peace, at one with nature and under complete control of their mind and body.

By gently exercising the whole body and the mind, we enter a state of moving meditation in which we are both alert and relaxed at the same time. Tai Chi was never meant to be easy! Many people get fed up with learning something new as they think they have to be good at it immediately. Although it takes many years to get to grips with the finer points, you can gain some benefits straight away by being content with just copying and allowing the theories to take shape when you are ready. There is no time limit and no pressure to reach a certain level. You should try to be patient with yourself and each other while finding a way to learn, and also to ask questions at any time.

“Tai Chi is an unfolding that brings unimaginable marvels”

What are the benefits?

Tai chi can provide many benefits. Some may include:

Improved balance and posture

Relaxation and better quality sleep

Regulates breathing and circulation

Reduction of general stiffness, aches and pains

Lifting of mood

Calming to the mind

Relief of long term ailments

Improved general wellbeing

What does a lesson involve?

Either a regular weekly class or a private lesson lasts about an hour and during that time we start off with various exercises. Some theory is covered during that time so you can apply it to your practice. At first there seems a lot to take in, but it gets easier after a few weeks.

After the exercises, we gradually learn a sequence called the ’Form’, which takes quite a long time to learn. This Form is a Yang Style Long Form and is a very old sequence of moves that was adapted from a more martial style to make it possible for almost anyone to learn whilst still resembling the original Form. All the moves are slow and gentle whereas the harder styles have difficult low stances and fast explosive moves, punches, jabs and leaping kicks!

You do not need any special equipment or uniform, just loose comfortable clothing and socks, soft shoes or bare feet. There are no floor based exercises and the movements can be adapted for those who are less physically active or those with reduced mobility.

“A journey of one thousand miles begins with the first step”

Tai Chi Classes in Northumberland

Amanda has been practicing the ancient Chinese art of Tai Chi Chuan for 25 years. The Yang Style Long Form originates from the Yang family and her teachers can be traced back to Yang Lu Ch’an. Tai Chi is a great Martial Art; it is also a great healing art and its practice will help to balance your life in many ways.

Amanda teaches to a growing number of people of all ages, from all walks of life and with varied physical abilities. Tai Chi is something you just cannot hurry and the very slow movements take a bit of getting used to, but once hooked, Tai Chi will become a new way of life. It is something that anybody can do; any time and anywhere. The classes are relaxed and fun and there is no pressure to attain a particular level of competency.

Tai Chi Class on Cresswell Beach 2006

Understanding the Healing/Fighting Link of a Martial Art

The following article was inspired from the Taoist Chinese Classic,

The Art of War by Sun Tzu

‘A physician was asked by his patient “Who from your family of healers is the most skilled in his practice?”

He replied, “My eldest brother sees the spirit of sickness and removes it before it takes shape; so his name does not get out of the house. My elder brother cures sickness when it is still small, so his name does not get out of the Village.

As for me, I puncture veins, prescribe medicines and massage skin; so from time to time, my name gets out and is heard among the masses.’

Similarly:

‘The superior militarist foils the enemy’s plots, next best is to ruin their alliances, next after that is to attack their armed forces; worst is to besiege their cities.’

Or,

When someone healthy comes to a Tai Chi class, and feels great. Then that’s great news, for a week. If someone enjoys it each week, then they may tell their neighbours. If someone comes along who can barely walk and walks out upright and throwing away their walking stick – It’s a miracle and may make the News!

The greatest works are unseen. Tai Chi nurtures health of mind and body, to help prevent internal and external attacks. The movements exercise and harmonise the body systems and processes which is the idea behind the preventative medicine. If we nurture our good health we therefore help our bodies to do their best to fight off disorder and disease. Our immune system is battling away all the time and our cerebral programs are keeping time for us while we go about our daily life. If we become run down or abuse our bodies, then we weaken our defences and the army of invaders can enter and multiply!

If we build up our arsenal of weapons before the enemy invades, then we have a good strategy to win the ensuing battle before it gets out of hand. If we have a better understanding of these processes, surely our lives will be more successful and rewarding in every way? If you gain a degree of mastery over yourself, you will have more control over the rest of your life! Don’t wait until you need drastic measures.

As the Tao Te Ching says; ‘Deal with great tasks while they are still small!’

Amanda 11th Sept 2012

For everything you could ever wish to know about Taiji please visit Erle's website:

www.taijiworld.com

* Please see attachment at bottom of page about Standing Qigong Exercise

Testimonials

My thoughts about participating in Tai Chi classes by Maisie July 2011

I first began attending Tai Chi classes approximately 6 years ago. I went on Fridays late morning and on to work in the afternoon. I was a lecturer in a further education college and that day had a particularly difficult class. Tai Chi calmed me and prepared me for my afternoon, my calmness actually reflecting on the students. I am a calm person anyway but worried about the class to face. I left Tai Chi because of medical problems but always wanted to return.

Today I am recently retired (30th June last year) and have been suffering from severe arthritis. Since beginning my class about a year ago, I find that my pain diminishes. Of course as many people know, arthritic pain does not go away entirely but Tai Chi exercise has helped. I can now balance on either leg and I am now more supple. I also find it of great comfort in the calming element especially when one experiences stress and worry.

I also now understand that once you move one part of your body, i.e. an arm or leg, your body has to go that way and then the only thing you can do after that is for the other side to come into line. We all have been moving in that same way as human beings but we do not think about how we move, we just do it. Tai Chi gives you more awareness of our bodies and how we function. It is quite enlightening.

We have been coming for a while now and all enjoy the sight of all of us moving with the same passion. It is a nice sight to see when everyone moves together within the intricate moves of the Essential Points of Yang Cheng-fu. We also have become friends and after class enjoy lunch together.

I would urge women of all ages to participate in Tai Chi for their own wellbeing as it has worked wonders for me and I am only one of many.

Brenda June 2011

I am not able to do any weight bearing exercises because of joint problems and health issues. The Tai Chi helps with my posture and the stretching exercises are very good for me. I thoroughly enjoy the company and go home feeling much better and more relaxed

Sheila June 2011

I find the whole class is very relaxing and I enjoy it very much. Sometimes I find my fingers tingle afterwards!

Mary June 2011

It's a calming and relaxing class and when I come out I find I am better able to cope with my busy life

Lesley June 2011

Amanda's beginner’s class is a nice, easy and relaxing introduction to Tai Chi. I enjoy the warm up exercises just as much as the Tai Chi Form

MS and Tai Chi by Barbara May 2011

To be positive and happy with MS is sometimes a challenge. One of the ingredients of a happy life is meeting regularly with friends to share in some activity. Tai Chi classes help in this and are also fun.

My MS results in muscle stiffness and poor balance, which makes walking difficult. Aerobic exercises with their faster movements can cause painful, pulled muscles. The slow sustained movements of Tai Chi are helpful in strengthening weak muscles and improving balance. The sequence of movements in the Yang Form and the controlled breathing also help concentration.

Each morning I get out of bed with stiff, sore muscles but after a shower and a few minutes of Tai Chi, I am ready to face the day.

Anyone unable to stand can still benefit by sitting to do the exercises.

Finally, I can recommend Tai Chi to anyone, since every muscle in the body is exercised.

Try it and enjoy the experience!

Annie June 2011

I first joined one of Amanda’s classes a few years ago but was unable to continue due to various health problems. I really enjoyed coming as although I was dubious about joining a crowd, everyone was so nice and there was no pressure to have to remember anything from week to week.

I always hoped to return to my Tai Chi when my health improved and so was delighted when she started a beginner’s class literally opposite my house! I joined up and some of the movements started to come back to me; and that calmness I remembered from before.

After a few months, I decided to have private lessons so I could really learn at my own pace and get to grips with the basic methods of practise. I would thoroughly recommend Tai Chi to anyone, whatever their ability as it’s not how good you are at it, but that you enjoy it and for me, that I get some relief from my continuing physical and mental health problems. It’s like a sort of gentle life-coaching.

So far I have found that I have found ways to focus on tasks and concentrate for longer on things than before, and am working on my posture. I get homework from Amanda which I can do between lessons if I want to and just by thinking about my lessons makes me feel easier when I would normally feel panicky or anxious.

Amanda is very kind when she praises me and encourages me when I feel I’m getting nowhere. It really does take a very long time to grasp all the elements of Tai Chi, but I find it really helps me and I can’t believe more people don’t take it up.

Joe’s Story by Amanda

I so much wanted to write down how rewarding it has been for me to teach all my students, but most recently, having had a handful of 1-2-1 lessons with Joe, I feel that to share this experience can only encourage and promote the sometimes life-changing virtues of learning Tai Chi.

I first met Joe when I was working at reception of a local Therapy Centre and he was waiting to see the Osteopath for his long term painful back. I was trying to make polite conversation with him while he was waiting, and I have to say, it wasn’t easy! You could tell that apart from the obvious constant pain he was in, that had dragged him down over the years, he was quite depressed, plus the very sad loss of his wife almost 3 years ago. This viscous circle of mental and physical pain was drilling him down and he was very frustrated that he was unable to move on.

I thought I had nothing to lose by telling him about Tai Chi and how it helped me when I was younger and also how others had benefited. I gave him my book to take away and a list of my regular classes in the hope he may at least read it. He knew he needed to do something about his situation, and thank god it paid off. I didn’t really think he would contact me, but he did. About a month later, he phoned me and he asked for a private lesson to see what it was all about.

We arranged a time and completed our first hour long lesson.

He really took to the whole thing and I don’t know who gained the most from this class! It is so rewarding for me when someone ‘gets-it’ this well and we were both surprised how he enjoyed the class.

When he came for his next lesson, he could hardly put into words how he felt and that a weight had lifted from his shoulders. He said that although the pain was still there it was different somehow. It has enabled him to take the very first steps to move forward with his life. What a difference on his face too, instead of the slumped colourless character I first met, their stood a straighter happy smiling face eager to get on with more learning.

I hope that this account will help and encourage others to try Tai Chi. There must be thousands of others who find themselves in this situation and must make that first step towards a happier existence.

Amanda 19-7-2011

My Tai Chi Class by Margaret June 2011

I’m sure that anyone with high blood pressure would find it lowered within twenty minutes of a class. You instantly feel calmer, more focused and more centred. Anything on your mind is quickly banished as you concentrate on the routine.

As your balance gradually improves – hopefully your personality does the same.

What is there not to like?

Trying to get your arms and legs to coordinate reminded me of a little poem I heard:

A centipede was happy – quite until a toad, in fun, said, “Pray, which leg goes after which?” This worked his mind to such a pitch, it lay distracted in a ditch, considering how to run!

Tai Chi is like learning how to stand, walk and breathe all over again!

Amanda came to our home, De Baliol Nursing and Residential Home , many months ago to see if we could get some of our residents interested in doing some gentle exercise. We’re quite restricted with many of the residents as a lot of them are nursing and are confined to wheelchairs or have poor mobility. Immediately Amanda said she would adapt the Tai Chi for the residents to sit in either their wheelchairs or the comfortable chairs in the big lounge where we would carry out the session.

It started off with just three to four residents and sometimes some family members and gradually increased as we tried to get as many as possible involved. Once they realised it was gentle and they were nearly all capable of participating at some stage nearly everyone began to enjoy their weekly session.

It got to the stage where residents and family members were asking if today was the day we do Tai Chi. Not only did they look forward to the session but also to Amanda herself, she is such a lovely person who had such a calming effect on the residents. Everyone liked Amanda coming to the home.

It was obvious the Tai Chi was having good effects on some of our residents as they were beginning to have better movements in some their arms and legs, in particular one gentleman whose use of his arm and hand improved with his weekly Tai Chi, this resident had a stroke at some time. Her loved Amanda coming and rarely missed the sessions.

I think it was a great benefit to the residents and Amanda introduced different moves as the weeks went by always adapting them to the residents sitting. We had great fun and many laughs and everyone loved it when Amanda showed us how Tai Chi movements were done properly with her standing.

Larraine from De Baliol Nursing Home, Newbiggin-by-the-Sea.

Tai Chi and what it means to me, by Judith Dec 2011

I have been attending classes with Amanda for about 4 months now. I was skeptical at first, wasn’t sure what to expect, whether I would be able to participate fully due to health problems, whether I would feel obliged to attend when I didn’t really want to, if I could do the exercises and so on.

The class is very relaxed, anyone could join in and gain some benefit. It’s quite good fun to learn a new skill and although at first I was a bit lost I’m gradually getting better, it takes time. None of it involves floor work which is ideal for me and as you improve your posture improves and the movements seem much easier. Our class is quite small but then we seem to learn twice as fast!

Getting out of the house is essential to those with chronic disease, meeting people, doing a bit of exercise and having a chat and a cuppa.

This year started really badly for me but with it came a positive attitude to improve both mentally and physically. Tai Chi has played a huge part and here, ten months later life is much improved, I’m walking reasonable distances without a stick and able to cope much better generally.

More than one class a week would be hugely beneficial but I can recommend the DVDs– it makes quite a difference to be reminded of and even attempt the exercises in between classes.

My doctor also agrees that Tai Chi can only be of benefit.

Note from Amanda:

Judith has gained an amazing amount from attending the classes as the autoimmune disease she has prevents her from getting out and about as much as she would like. The gentle movements and posture awareness has helped her no-end, plus it’s great to see her laughing and moving about as if there were no health problems what so ever. One day after the class, she ran down the road saying “Look, I can walk!” and laughing like a maniac, her eyes shining like a child with a new toy. It was so rewarding to see.