Tai Chi has been an important part of Chinese culture since the 16th century. It’s both an effective method for fighting but can also be used for self-defense. In fact, when executed correctly, Tai Chi can be one of the most effective methods for self-defense, working to take down your attacker. Give yourself the strength and ability to defend yourself — and others — in any situation.
The martial arts aspect of Tai Chi can also help deal or cope with stress. The physical release of kicking, punching, jumping, or rolling is a great way to release any pent-up stress — leaving you feeling relief after a class. Furthermore, you’ll practice deep breathing exercises throughout your class, further reducing that stress you carry with you.
In martial arts, yielding is when you “give way” to your opponent’s attack. This means that you accept their momentum or force and redirect that energy. Essentially, you’re using your opponent’s strength against them. In Tai Chi, yielding is taught to be non-violence. Instead of responding to their energy with your own energy, you’re redirecting that energy and giving yourself space to move away or stop them.
Martial arts is a powerful mode for not only relieving stress, but also helping your body relax. The gracefulness of Tai Chi allows you to move through smooth, gentle movements. This gives your mind and your body time to relax and move through the practice.
How aware are you of your surroundings? One of the most important aspects of self-defense in martial arts is having situational awareness of you, your opponent, and your surroundings. This type of awareness helps you better understand what’s happening and make decisions about what to do to best defend yourself.
Balance is the ability to control your body against gravity when it’s not moving. During static poses, you’ll take that time to hold your body in place without moving, working against gravity. This is why Tai Chi is a powerful tool to help you strengthen your balance — along with the muscles used to help maintain those postures.
Stability is just as important as your balance but with a focus on maintaining that balance through your movements. Tai Chi involves slow, deliberate movements, so you’ll need to remain stable throughout those movements. The ability to transition smoothly between each movement shows that you have strong stability.
The energy created and used in Tai Chi is generated from the focus on self-discipline, honor, and fitness. That’s why each movement in Tai Chi needs to be deliberate and focused. During yielding, you’re refocusing your opponent’s energy to best benefit you. But with each of your own movements, you’re working to focus your energy against your opponent.
There are many benefits that come from the martial arts side of Tai Chi training. While this is only one direction of Tai Chi, there is a lot to learn through the martial arts movements and training. From self-defense and yielding to situational awareness, relaxation, and balance, martials arts will help you strengthen your mind and body.
Learn more about the other four directions of Tai Chi practice — the therapeutic side, the medical side, the philosophical study, and the meditative side. At Portland Tai Chi Academy, you can register for our online Tai Chi classes and start your training today.
-Becca, A happy new member of our Qigong and Tai Chi community