Our Founder Master Moy demonstrates Taoist Tai Chi® arts.

The stretching component is something
that occurs throughout the set. As one progresses, as one begins to
understand the movement, the stretching becomes emphasized more and more. The stretch in Tai Chi is a very
complete stretch. It involves the whole body, right
from the heel to the tips of the fingers as you stretch forward. This is combined, of course, with the
sitting and the turning aspect in the movement, and it’s that turning component that makes the stretch so unique. In most forms, the stretching is done in a linear fashion, simply flexing and extending. With Tai Chi there’s the flexion and
extension but also the rotational component from the turning introduced, and this rotation is introduced throughout the body. As you turn your hips your legs are turned. As you turn your spine and stretch out with your arms all the upper body joints are
stretched as well. Another concept is that of expansion and
contraction, and you can think of this at the beginner’s
stage as simply expanding and contracting the individual
muscle groups. As you get a feel for the stretching, the
joints themselves feel like they’re expanding and contracting, and this is exactly what happens. The stretching action causes the joint to open up
and expand as you stretch forward, and as you pull back there’s a contraction. I mentioned earlier about the
internals, this expansion and contraction goes on,
as you progress, deeper and deeper into the body and you move from emphasizing the limbs and the more external structures to the body itself and the internal structures and you feel as you do the weight shift, the transfer back and forth, that that expansion and contraction occurs
in the abdominal region and is involved in each and every
movement of the set. The fifth component that we’re told and
we hear repeated over and over again is, perhaps the most difficult to grasp, is that of relaxing. This is a term that makes sense at different
levels as you progress in different ways. The relaxing is becoming more and more recognized. That being able to relax is critical in dealing with the everyday stress that most people in our modern, urban environment experience. Stress can have several detrimental affect on one’s physiology and learning how to relax is the most
effective way in learning how to deal with that stress. In Tai Chi the relaxation is integrated right into
the movement. By doing the movements slowly, it allows
that relaxation to occur. There is a stretch response, a stretch
reflex that occurs, as you stretch forward and do that type of
stretch slowly, that allows things to relax more. In most other forms of exercise, relaxing is
separated from the exercise itself, just as stretching is separated from many forms of exercise. You do your exercise and then you do your stretching. You do your exercise, then you do your relaxing. In Tai Chi, all of these are combined together
in all of the movements of the set, which makes it a very complete form of exercise. I’ve spoken mainly of the health benefits
of Tai Chi from a Western perspective. In the East, they have quite a different
perspective on health and what good health means and how bad
health comes about. Tai Chi is an exercise that was
developed to promote good health and in the Eastern model, ill health comes
about as a result of impairments in circulation of what they
call Chi, in the body. Chi is also known as the life force or intrinsic energy. It’s something that you cannot always put your finger on but it’s something that you feel as you
progress in Tai Chi. There’s what’s called the meridian
system in the body, and and along that we’ve all heard of acupuncture points. Along the meridians are various acupuncture points and, in the East, they believe that these acupuncture points are areas
where the Chi or the circulation of Chi is impeded and it’s that impediment to the flow of
Chi that results in disease, as we know it. Tai Chi as an exercise is developed to open
up those areas where the Chi gets blocked, along the meridians, and promote the flow of that circulation. We think of circulation in western terms strictly in terms of blood circulating along the circulatory system
and perhaps the lymphatic system as well. Circulation has other implications in terms of,
as I was mentioning, the flow of Chi. The Taoists, which Taoist Tai Chi was originally formulated by, developed Tai Chi in order to aid that
process of the flow of Chi in the body and, as a result, the promotion
of good health. I mention relaxation earlier and this is also
comes into this in a very important way in that the relaxation aspect of doing
the movements is very much involved with the meditative
aspect of doing the movements. Tai Chi is often described as a moving
meditation. This extreme concentration that is required to
do the set, and that is developed by doing the set, promotes that internal relaxation, which
is also very important to opening up these blockages in the Chi meridians. The sitting involves transferring the
weight from the front foot to the back foot. This is very important in opening and stretching the pelvic region. It’s a region that’s emphasized a lot
in Tai Chi, and for very good reason. Most of the major blood vessels, nerves, veins and arteries come down through the pelvis. By stretching open that area, you allow more room for these very
important structures to function much more effectively, in the body. Combining the sitting, turning and
stretching helps to promote that opening process. This Eastern conception of health,
and the degeneration into poor health, ties in very well when we think about
the aging process and exercise for seniors. It’s generally well known and most seniors experience a
dramatic decrease in circulation as one gets older. This is experienced as cold hands, cold
feet, those types of sensations. As you practice Tai Chi and the internal development is
achieved, that circulation is dramatically improved and we’ve had many, many people in
practicing Tai Chi experience just that. And you can think of this either
in the eastern terms or western terms in terms of circulation of blood flow or circulation of chi. The process of improving the circulation still involves
opening up the various aspects of the body, to allow that circulation to occur. And I think this is one reason why Tai Chi can be considered an
ideal form of exercise, for people of all ages, to prevent that aging process from occurring as rapidly as it might. The Taoists, in their quest for improved
health and what they called longevity, were always looking for the answer to prolong their lives and I think Taoist style Tai Chi is probably
the best answer that they ever came up with.

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