Taijiquan: The Art of Nurturing and the Science of Power

January 6, 2014
By Gu Wentong and Yang XiaolinEditor: Amanda Wu

Luo Zizhen practices tajiquan. [TJQTN.com]

Luo Zizhen practices tajiquan. [TJQTN.com]

Taijiquan, or traditional Chinese shadow boxing, is a form of martial arts, the practice of which is characterized by slow, light movements, and the use of the mind as opposed to unnecessary or brute force. Taijiquan synthesizes physical dexterity and mental agility. Through the balance of yin and yang, taijiquan helps one build his/her body, cultivate his/her mind and develop his/her character. Practicing taijiquan helps improve women's both physical and mental health, and the ability to adapt to various social situations.

Major Effects

Medical studies indicate the major health benefits of taijiquan include:

Improving brain and nervous system functions. While performing taijiquan, one must stay relaxed, both physically and mentally. That will help one protect and improve the functions of his/her brain and nervous system.

Preventing and curing cardiovascular (disease of the blood vessels supplying the heart) and cerebrovascular (a group of conditions that affect the circulation of blood to the brain) diseases. Shadow boxing has been proven to have curative effects when it comes to such diseases, as one's blood pressure usually remains low while he/she is performing taijiquan. Unlike running, taijiquan will not place additional stress on the heart.

Protecting one's internal organs. Through the slow, steady body movements, practitioners of taijiquan "massage" their internal organs. Also, they have to take, from time to time while practicing taijiquan, a deep breath, which helps invigorate blood circulation and improve the functions of the liver, lungs and digestive system.

Reducing the effects of aging and helping to prevent various diseases (such as heart disease and high blood pressure). According to TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) theory, rotating the waist when doing taijiquan will cause yinqi and yangqi, the primordial feminine and masculine energies, to interact with each other, and that will result in a balance between yin and yang in the practitioner's body. In turn, that will help reduce the effects of aging, and it will help prevent many diseases.

Health Benefits to Women

Given the marked curative effects, taijiquan has become a magic "weapon" used by many women who are trying to stay fit and/or enhance their beauty. Shadow boxing provides the following health benefits:

Strengthening the waist, legs and cervical vertebra. Medical studies indicate that taijiquan helps cure lumbago, leg pains and bone diminution, all of which are diseases that afflict elderly and middle-aged women. While performing taijiquan, one must often balance on one leg, and then bend the leg to bear the body's weight, which strengthens the bones in the leg.
 
Improving the functions of the reproductive system. Rotating the waist during taijiquan is similar to "massaging" the kidneys, the gate of vitality (the acupuncture point that lies between the kidneys), and the belt vessel (the body part that starts between the second and the third lumbar vertebrae, and circles around the waist). This will improve the functions of the woman's reproductive system.

Improving mental wellbeing. As taijiquan requires one to stay calm and focus on his/her movements, the exercises will help one eliminate his/her negative emotions, such as impatience, anxiety and irritation. Therefore, by practicing taijiquan frequently, a woman can remain calm, optimistic and easygoing. In addition, practitioners of taijiquan can meet new people while participating in taijiquan courses. Through communications with new friends, one might improve his/her ability to adapt to various social situations. Practicing taijiquan over the long term can help one prevent such diseases as depression, neurasthenia and senile dementia.

Improving appearance. Saliva contains various nutrients (such as protein, amino acid, sodium, potassium and calcium), all of which are good for one's health. In particular, saliva plays a major role in improving one's appearance, especially when one is practicing taijiquan. Why? While shadow boxing, one's tongue licks his/her palate, which causes the salivary gland to salivate. According to TCM theory, when one swallows saliva, and it goes down to dantian (the acupuncture point about four inches below the navel), the saliva will moisten his/her skin and invigorate his/her blood circulation.

Taijiquan is a wonderful sport for women, as it helps them improve not only their health, but also their appearance and psychological wellbeing. Moreover, a woman can do taijiquan at virtually any time or place. No wonder so many women have "fallen in love" with the sport.

Luo Zizhen Taijiquan Training Center

Luo Zizhen, founder of the center, is a native of Yongnian County, in north China's Hebei Province, the birthplace of Yang-style taijiquan. She is one of the disciples of Yang Zhenhe, one of the world's top 10 taijiquan masters and one of the fifth generation of disciples of Yang-style taijiquan.

In July 2012, Luo finished first in the Ninth National Martial Arts Competition, which was held in Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality. Luo boasts rich experience in teaching shadow boxing, which can be practiced either barehanded or with a sword, fan or pole.
 
The center offers courses to both children and adults. There are three levels — elementary, intermediate and advanced — of adult courses.

If you want to study taijiquan at home, then visit www.cntaiji.net, an on-line bookstore, which sells books and audiovisual products on shadow boxing. You may also download articles, which introduce the ABCs of taijiquan, and some background music, which you can play while practicing shadow boxing.

Notes:

1. Yin and yang are used to describe how seemingly opposite or contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other as they interrelate. Many natural dualities (such as male and female, light and dark, high and low, hot and cold, water and fire, and life and death) are thought of as physical manifestations of the yin-yang concept.

2. Traditionally, a dantian is considered to be a center of qi or life force. The dantians are important points of reference in neidan, qigong, neigong, tao yin and other self-cultivation practices of exercise, breathing and meditation, as well as in the martial arts and in TCM.

(Source: Women of China English Monthly August 2013 Issue)

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