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“Can 10 minutes a day of slow, effortless looking exercise contribute to abundant health and vitality?”



Perhaps you have seen groups of elderly, mostly Asian folks doing slow motion dance-like movements in a group in a local park and wondered what it was your were witnessing? Well, it turns out that the seemingly effortless movements of the art known as Tai Chi, or more properly Taijiquan, have a myriad of positive health benefits, and that the art itself is one of the most widely practiced health and fitness development systems in the entire world due to it’s popularity among the Chinese. Take a trip to China, and if you can manage to drag yourself out of bed in the wee morning hours, you’ll be greeted by the extraordinary sight of literally thousands of people in a single park doing the graceful, meditative movements of Taijiquan. 


You may be equally surprised to learn that Taijiquan is actually a martial art, famous for producing some of China’s most legendary fighting masters. In fact, the word quan means fist, e.g. fighting art, in Chinese. Of course, nowadays, most people take up Taijiquan to improve their health and may not even be aware of its history as a martial art.  


So what makes Taijiquan such an ideal health cultivation system?   The focus on Taijiquan is learning how to relax and control the body and developing a sense of stillness in motion. Regular practice provides all the benefits of an ultra low impact exercise system, while simultaneously conferring the same stress reducing benefits as other similar mind-body development systems such as yoga and meditation. Documented benefits of practicing Taijiquan include: improved lung and heart function, strength, coordination, balance, increased bone density, better mood, and improved quality of sleep. While anyone of any age can attain enormous benefits from practicing Taijiquan, the art is particularly known for being well tolerated by the elderly, and even those who are chronically ill and not able to tolerate many other forms of exercise. In China, Taijiquan and other forms of moving meditation collectively known as Qigong, are highly regarded as therapies in cancer wards and chronic disease centers. 


            That is not to say that Taijiquan and Qigong are only beneficial for the elderly and the infirm. Even those who are already very fit athletes find that Taijiquan teaches additional body awareness and control that may just give them the advantage they are looking for in their chosen sport.  


After learning the soft, flowing movements of the Taijiquan form for some time, the majority of students decide to partake in some of the partner exercises of Taijiquan designed to develop it’s utility as a self-defense art. As there is almost none of the risk of injury or competitiveness associated with many of the harder, more aggressive martial arts, Taijiquan aficionados often refer to  their two person exercises as “play”. By practicing these semi-cooperative movements with a partner, players of Taijiquan quickly learn to develop the dynamic relaxation Taijiquan is famous for.  Furthermore, by learning how to “stick and follow” one’s opponent, the player of Taijiquan soon discovers that, “a force of 4 ounces can overcome 1000 pounds.” 


Give Taijiquan a try and you’ll not only discover a plethora of health benefits, you’re sure to have fun along the journey. And you may even find it opens up a whole new way of looking at the world.


About the Author 


John Zimmerman, Doctor of Chiropractic, has been studying Taijiquan, as well as a wide variety of martial arts, for over 20 years. A fluent speaker of Mandarin Chinese, he spent over nine years studying in Taiwan and Mainland China with many of the most revered teachers of Chinese martial arts. If you’d like to try a class, stop by his office at 566 N. Diamond Bar Blvd. on Monday nights. Classes are held  from 6-7pm. Or call 909-861-2611 for more information. 


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