Chen Style, Laojia form
Tai chi is a gentle, slow-motion martial art from China. It has three main strands to it: it is a form of meditation in movement, it is an exercise that enhances well-being, and it is a martial art. It has a long, rich history and many layers so you never stop learning when you start Tai chi.
Benefits of Tai chi
Tai chi is beneficial to your health on many levels, mental, physical and emotional. The slow, soft movements relax the body and calm the mind, providing relief from stress, anxiety and insomnia. Moving slowly improves balance and strengthens the legs - there is an old Chinese saying "strong legs, strong body". With improved posture and joint mobility comes relief from aches and pains.
Central to Tai chi is the concept of "Qi" (pronounced Chi), which means life force or energy. Practising Tai chi develops and enhances your Qi, which has a beneficial effect on your whole being, improving your resistance to disease and increasing your vitality.
The style of Tai chi we practise is chen style, which is the oldest style, created in the 1580s. It has been handed down through the centuries and the form we study is the Laojia, or old form, created in the 1800s. The current chen style grandmaster is master chen Xiao Wang, who teaches my teachers, Karel and Eva Koskuba of the Chinese Internal Arts Association (CIAA).
The form is made up 74 sequences joined together into a continuous movement. It is divided into four parts, which helps with remembering it. Many of the sequences repeat, for example, Wave Hands Like Clouds occurs four times, Buddha Warrior Pounds Mortar four times and Single Whip 6 times. Altogether the form takes about a year to learn but this varies from person to person.
There is a set of silk reeling exercises that help you to find the connection between the hands and the whole body movement coming from the centre or "dantien" or centre These are demonstrated in the "Silk Reeling" playlist on the NInja Granny youtube channel. Click on this link for the exercise called double handed silk reeling.
The chen style fan form we study was created by my teachers, Eva and Karel Koskuba, It has 22 sequences and so takes a relatively short time to learn. The sequences are based on the Laojia form and so the two complement eachother well. At present we are studying the fan form at the Tuesday lunchtime class at Lux Park Leisure Centre and the Wednesday evening class in Looe.
Seated Tai chi
The qigong exercises at the Liskerrett Centre class (Wednesdays 10-11am) and at Dobwalls Memorial Hall on Mondays 12.30-1.30pm can be adapted for sitting so people who have difficulty standing for long periods. You can sit down at any time and still do the exercises. The exercises are still beneficial and help build stamina so you may find that over time you can stand for longer periods.