In one of the classes last week, I mentioned how many people scoff at t'ai chi as a martial art because of the slow motion movements.
But, of course, they're missing the point (as usual).
One of the reasons you train slowly is so that you can pay close attention to every part of your body, mind, and energy. Becoming aware of how you're moving, thinking and your intent and focus, slowly, will enable you to begin to change your nervous system and the existing programs it uses for movement.
And how does this relate to your health, you're wondering? Hang in there. I'm getting to that…
Doing the t'ai chi set is not about looking pretty, it's about being functional.
You don't do your t'ai chi set just for the sake of doing it, you do it to become more skilful in movement, to open and stretch out the body and to train a way of moving.
Stretching out and opening the body relieves muscle imbalances, moves lymph (your body's waste drainage system), pumps nutrients through your tissues and tonifies the muscles. Amongst many other things, but that's a good start, right?
Once you've trained the body to move according to the rules of t'ai chi then you can start to speed up the movements with no loss of quality, but speed up too soon and you'll relapse back into your old way of moving because you haven't changed the nervous system yet. You can begin to train t'ai chi as a martial art more effectively if you have the basics of movement, otherwise you'll just do your own thing and turn t'ai chi into kung fu. Which many people do, by the way.
And t'ai chi is not kung fu.
All that said, if you're practising as you should be, you'll be aligning your body and posture, freeing up any tension that's hanging about, improving the effectiveness of your body's systems like the respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic and digestive systems and increasing your energy, flexibility and power.
Not too bad for 'slow motion' stuff, huh?
It's useful to bear in mind that you can (and should) perform the t'ai chi movements at many speeds including full combat speed (but only if you're interested in t'ai chi as a martial art obviously).
Ok, that's it for today, I'll catch up with you at a class soon