Are You Really Learning Tai Chi and is it Effective for Stress? Part 1

Discussion in 'Tai chi' started by martyeisen, May 19, 2012.

  1. martyeisen

    martyeisen Banned Banned

    1. What is Classical Tai Chi?

    Only the Yang style will be discussed. However, similar types of training were used in other classical styles (Chen, Wu and Sun), since these were also internal forms of Kung Fu for health and self defense. These styles have also been altered and shortened.

    The original (old) Yang Tai Chi form was devised by Yang Lu-Chan (1799 – 1872) and consisted of about 128 postures, not counting repetitions. It had both fast and slow movements in it. One of the purposes of the fast movements was to teach fa-jing, small, explosive movements to generate tremendous power in punches, kicks, etc., for self defense. The (new) long form, practiced by most Yang stylists today, was derived from the Yang Lu – Chan form by Yang Cheng – Fu (1883 – 1936). He removed the fast fa-jing moves, all leaping kicks and made slightly different moves the same. It has about 108 postures. To learn the original form properly took about 5 or 6 years.

    Each move in the old form not only showed how to strike acupoints, but the proper direction for striking them, with devastating results. This could result in death of an adversary and was known as Dim Mak.

    However, learning the form was not enough for combat and so the following two-person exercises are practiced to learn how to attack and counter. Martial Push Hands (Toi Sau), consisting of countering punches, strikes, kicks, locks and throws. This is not the same as the modern, popular push hands, whose purpose is to push the opponent off-balance. Chi Sau (sticky hands) are also practiced, as well as Pushing Feet, in which only the feet are used to attack and defend. These exercises are mainly to train the student to combat single attacks.

    More complex exercises are used for continuous attacks, such as Da Lu (the Great Repulse) and Small San Sau (Free Hands). These exercises only use a small number of the techniques from the old form.

    Students then learn Pauchui (Cannon Fist), the remaining movements from the old form, done powerfully rapidly. Puchui consists of two different formulas, a fixed sequence of moves, which are practiced alone. Later, one student does one formula, while his opponent does the other so that they can practice a sequence of attacks and counters (Large San Sau) without stopping between techniques. At first, they practice slowly and then, gradually faster, with full power. Later, the techniques are applied randomly, leading to free sparring. Usually the Large San Sau is not taught until a student has practiced for at least four years.

    Weapons, such as the sword, spear, are also taught as solo forms and then, two-person sparring exercises.

    There are several associated medical and health aspects in Tai Chi connected with the old solo form associated martial training exercises. There is a natural, biorhythmic Qi flow in the body every 24 hours, known as the Horary Cycle. In the Horary Cycle, the Qi makes its way through the meridians with its associated organ so that there is a two-hour period during which it is at maximum energy. The order of flow and the maximum energy time periods are:

    Lung (3-5 AM) ? Large Intestines (5-7 AM) ? Stomach (7-9 AM) ? Spleen (9-11 AM) ? Heart (11AM – 1PM) ? Small Intestines (1-3 PM) ? Bladder (3-5 PM) ? Kidney (5-7 PM )? Pericardium (7-9 PM) ? Triple Energizer ( 9-11 PM ) ? Gallbladder ( 11PM – 1AM) ? Liver (1 – 3 AM) ? Lung …..

    Performing the old Yang form causes your Qi to flow through the Horary Cycle 3 times, energizing the body and helping balance your Qi flow. In addition, each posture in the Yang form can be practiced alone as a Qigong exercise to treat various conditions in the body –for example, holding the single whip posture is beneficial to the joints. In addition, greater difficulty than normal in doing a certain posture can be used to diagnose diseases.

    Most people cannot learn to relax sufficiently by only doing the solo form. Practicing the two-person exercises is required. In addition, practicing the San Sau form can energize the practitioners if the acupoints are struck lightly.

    In classical Tai Chi, the goal was not to just to make students warriors, but also healers. Dim Mak is not studied just for self defense to injure people. Techniques for resuscitating attackers and treating accidental practice injuries must also be learned. Moreover, the same Dim Mak technique, when done gently and with a healing mind –set can be used to treat diseases.

    Auxiliary Qigong training, which includes holding postures, is also an integral part of training. This helps students increase their internal energy, learn to feel Qi, helps relaxation, rooting, and projecting Qi. External Qi healing is also taught.

    Classical Tai Chi takes years of dedicated study. It is very difficult to learn in modern times because of many distractions. To teach Tai Chi to the masses, several different shorter versions of the new, long, Yang Cheng – Fu have been devised such as: the Beijing 24 movement version, Chen Man-ching 37 movement form, the 42 movement competition form developed by the Chinese National Wushu Association, and a 48 movement Yang style version by the Chinese National Athletic Association. There is even a fast set version developed by Master Dong Ying-jie.

    Practicing the old Yang style probably has more health benefits than practicing a modern, shorter version simply because there are more varied movements in the old form. It is unlikely that the short form causes the Qi to flow 3 times through the Horary Cycle, because different movements influence the Qi flow in different ways and many movements are omitted. There are also many principals for doing the postures correctly. In some modern, shorter versions, these principals are not obeyed. Even if the student is taught the principals and has them memorized, it takes years before they can be performed correctly.

    Tai Chi research is usually not done on all parts classical Tai Chi as described above, but only some shortened version or even a few postures from some solo form. The results should really be entitled the effects of trying to learn Tai Chi, since the research is usually carried out for months and not years. Beginning students are not doing real Tai Chi and so using a control group that danced or walked might give similar results as doing Tai Chi (9). Further studies, using a walking control group as in (21), should be done.

    The Chinese medical health benefits, such as the Horary Cycle effect and postures used as Qigong, have been passed on from Master to student without explanation or justification in terms of traditional Chinese medical theory. Clinical trials have not been carried out to justify all of these claims.

    2. Is Tai Chi a Form of Qigong?

    The movements in the solo Tai Chi form cause the Qi to circulate. A Tai Chi expert can feel the Qi circulate and after years of practice the circulation of Qi produces the movements. Thus, Tai Chi can be considered to be a form of Qigong according to the Qi definition of Qigong (1)

    Even some beginners claim to feel Qi or some of its manifestations. However, often this is just the result of muscle tension restricting blood flow and brainwashing by the instructor. Initially, because beginners must concentrate on the postures and principals, their minds are too preoccupied to feel Qi. Electrical sensations in the back, legs and arms, may be an indication of multiple sclerosis (MS) and not an indication of Qi flow in vital energy channels (2). “The common form of Lhermitte’s sign, which occurs in about a third of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients, consists of a feeling of an electric current moving down the back to the legs on flexion of the neck. The spread of the sensation is usually downwards, terminating either at the lower end of the spine or passing down both legs. However, all four limbs may be affected or less frequently the arms alone. Even in the absence of any other symptoms or signs, Lhermitte’s sign is a strong indication of MS. In our patient electrical sensation compatible with Lhermitte’s sign occurred during bow stance (cervical extension) and push hand practicing (flexion). These positions represent the classical postures of flexion or extension that are associated with Lhermitte’s sign. They evoke, due to mechanical deformation of the cord impulses in demyelinated, sensory fibers.”

    The first definition of Qigong is not suitable for research, since the exact nature of Qi is unknown. However, Tai Chi is a self-training technique or process that integrates the body posture, breathing, and mentality into oneness to achieve the optimal state for both body and mind. Thus, Tai Chi is a form of Qigong according to the second definition in (1).

    3. Tai Chi for Relieving Stress

    Sandlund and Norlander (3) reviewed more than 20 studies published from 1996

    to 1999 on the effects of Tai Chi on stress response and well-being and concluded that, although the slow-movement Tai Chi may not achieve aerobic fitness, it could enhance flexibility and overall psychological well-being. Tai Chi exercises led to an improvement of mood. The researchers concluded that all studies on the benefits of Tai Chi have revealed positive results and that Tai Chi was an effective way to reduce stress.

    Wang, Collet, and Lau (4) reviewed general health outcomes of Tai Chi. Among the six studies they reviewed with psychological measures, five reported positive or significant effects of Tai Chi on reducing stress and anxiety. However, biases existed in some of the studies, and it was difficult to draw firm conclusions about the benefits reported. Therefore, more well-designed studies are needed in the future.

    The review (5) states that the majority of studies on Tai Chi conducted between 1996 and 2004 had focused on health and well being of Tai Chi exercise for senior adults. The results show that Tai Chi may lead to improved balance, reduced fear of falling, increased strength, increased functional mobility, greater flexibility, and increased psychological well-being, sleep enhancement for sleep disturbed elderly individuals, and increased cardio functioning.

    Jin (7) conducted one of the first studies to examine the effects of Tai Chi (new long Yang and Wu forms) on the endocrine system. Changes in psychological and physiological functioning following participation in Tai Chi were assessed for 33 beginners (8 months or less experience) and 33 practitioners (more than a year’s experience). The variables in the three-way factorial design were experience (beginners vs. practitioners), time (morning vs. afternoon vs. evening), and phase (before Tai Chi vs. during Tai Chi vs. after Tai Chi). Phase was a repeated measures variable. Relative to measures taken beforehand, practice of Tai Chi raised heart rate, increased noradrenaline excretion in urine, and decreased salivary cortisol concentration. Relative to baseline levels, subjects reported less tension, depression, anger, fatigue, confusion and state-anxiety, they felt more vigorous, and in general they had less total mood disturbance.

    Heart rate for practitioners was higher than that for beginners. Jin attributes this effect to the lower stance and more controlled form of experienced practitioners

    The data suggest that Tai Chi results in gains that are comparable to those found with moderate exercise. There is need for research concerned with whether participation in Tai Chi has effects over and above those associated with physical exercise. A later paper by Jin (9) investigated this query.

    The study (9) compares the stress-reducing attributes of Tai Chi to those of brisk walking, meditation, and sitting and reading. There was no difference in the magnitude of cortisol reduction between the Tai Chi group and the other three groups. Hence, an additive effect of the physical exercise component and the cognitive exercise component in the practice of Tai Chi is not evident
  2. Skiddum1

    Skiddum1 New Member

    K you've talked about trying to learn but what if I've learned Yang ban Ho's long form from the YMAA its taken me years to get everything right. Plus I've also learned a few Chen style forms. but I've also been taught the one buy Yang chen fu. I like the Yang ban ho one more because it has more practical marital application. And Chen style will it speaks for it self. plus you say years. But that may be true to allot of people. Why because if you only practice 2 3 times a week an hour every time yeah after about 10 years you'll have maybe a full years worth of training. But in my case with my Chen style instructor he lived right next door. we practiced for hours every day and even when I wasn't practicing with him I was still practicing weather it be a work id be practicing the internal parts like rooting and other stuff. Or just on break going through short motions. the . difference like I tell a couple of the people I help now is you don't participate in tai Chi chuan you make it apart of yourself. and you can't do that buy only practicing here and there. If you truly want it to be usable and really get the real effect. I've been practicing for almost 5 years. there's more in each form than just the slow motions and big movements. even earl Montague talks about this there's small medium and large form and after practicing for awhile you need to speed it up see if you can Keep the movements graceful and Fluid. If you can't show it down a little tell you can Keep it smooth sung/song soo-ng and everything in place at a good speed then just Keep moving it up using different frames you can make some moves have FA jing while others Keep solid and smooth. There's an old saying 100 days of empty hand 1000 days of staff/spear and ten thousand of sword. But now days that's hard to accomplish cause most people don't have the will or the want to practice all day every day. Its hard for me. And I practice almost all day working on everything I can to squeeze in as much as I can. But things always get in the way friends girlfriend. Gotta go places stuff like that. But Yang ban hos form plus the Chen long form. Together I've learned a great deal on how to use it I've actually had to use it unfortunately. a guy I called friend decided he no longer wanted to be friends over some really dumb stuff and brought a few of his friends. Sadly in Utah 3 to 1 gives the person on his own the right to use lethal force. It t turned out really bad and the ambulance took them out of here. one sell can't walk straight. And they got charged for attempted gang related assault. it was bad and scense I didn't press charges the state did. But back to the point just like any marital art your understanding and how well you can use it deepens in how much you put into it. If you only practice once or twice a week for an hour after a hole year you've only got 26 hours. That a little over a days worth of training so Utah your not gonna be very good.
  3. Skiddum1

    Skiddum1 New Member

    Yang tai Chi chuan

    Most people don't even relies there learning a martial arts. But those who do if they practice for a hole year twice a week then they'll only have 112 hours of real training. That's very little if you look at it that's just bearily over 5 days of tall training. You can speed up training but really traiNing and Keep going over the basic 13 and the forms and push hands routine. Break up the form learn every move in it and learn how to use it in every way possible learn the chin na moves in tai Chi. And the shi jaio wrestling part of tai Chi. But only doing 2 hours a week, yeah that way takes years apon years.

    My former teacher in Chen style lived next door to me we practiced every day for hours. And even when I wasn't with him learning, I was practicing. Weather it be the internal part or external part. After I moved I learned Yang ban ho long form from the ymaa. Doing the same thing and it only took me about a month to learn practicing every day almost all day. and I can say together it has made it incredibly useful. I've had to use it once sadly. And the result were devastating.

    But not all tai Chi taught out there is just for stress and health. The people doing so will never get the full aspect. They'll never feel as good as they really can learning it as a hole. I've been practicing for almost 5 years now. Plus iron palm and body from wing Lam so all together plus the real applications and point strikes of tai Chi is destructive beyond. But yeah most people don't get the real aspect because they only learn from people who have learned just the very basics. They haven't got the full aspect t the internal and external part of the art. Yeah doing the motions may be meditative. But if you don't understand it you can't use it for tai meditation. You can't learn to root using it and you can't learn to use fa jing. so the result is people dOing a dance almost. Instead if a deadly art.

    There's also small large and medium frame in all the forms. the goal is to learn to use the small medium and large and speed it up to were it really don't even look like tai Chi any more, especially small frame when its done fast really looks more like straight kung fu. Hey wow look say that that's because it is. Small medium and large frame are all used for different strategies, different defenses and other things. Even earl Montague talks about this. God rest his soul. But tai Chi if learned and studied deeply, even if the person was taught buy someone who only new little. If they get really get into it, there's all types of people out there. all kinds of information and good learning stuff. YMAA and earl Mantague for instance are great for Yang tai Chi Chuan. I've learned those forms, And another allot claim is Yang lu chans form. Its has fast parts and slow so all together. I've combined all of it and I can use it for everything.

    But honestly I don't like using the marital part, I've had used it and seeing what it can really do is horrible. I still practice but so that I don't have to fight. I was young and eager to test my knowledge. If something like that happened now id use allot more restraint and try not rushing into it. But Id rather talk it through then fight. But I still practice for fights and the marital aspect but mainly for health and piece if mind. besides the health if body and mind its really helped in my self esteem , confidence and other aspects of my life.
    sorry for the errors I'm using my phone. but yeah hopefully others can learn from this what ever style the practice the arts are for defense if they absolutely have to be. Not to prove you the big man on campus. You should respect all life in every form. The arts themselves should be respected not used to show off and prove that your tough. If you do that then you'll always be fighting and sooner or later you'll be put down there's always someone better. The story of Charcoal Ma is a prefect example.
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2012
  4. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    skiddum. I'd like to read what you wrote, but a wall of text doesn't help at all. It makes it really hard to read so I'll skip it, please use some paragraphs if possible.
  5. Skiddum1

    Skiddum1 New Member

    Sorry It was late I've been making little changes here and there. But hope its easier to understand now thanks for the advice
  6. cloudz

    cloudz Valued Member

    Thanks, that's so much better. And thanks for sharing you experience with T'ai chi chuan.

    GUATUSA New Member

    Quan Ping Yang

    I have being learning Quan Ping for the last two years. I feel some times lost because my instructor does not teach Martial Application. I also have training of Wing Tsun, Hung Gar and TKD, so it makes it difficult to me to practice my form, when a good number of moves I can't identify with their intention. Whgat do you sugest?

  8. zombiekicker

    zombiekicker bagpuss

    i recently had a break in training taijutsu due to stomach problems and have looked at my finances and decided to train nearer to home in tai chi, the only point of reference i can give is its a club started by nigel sutton? some ninjutsu praticioners i know have rubbished it as an art but im going to see for myself
  9. El Medico

    El Medico Valued Member

    @ GUATUSA- If you want to be able to actually use T'ai Chi you'll have to find an instructor who will teach power development exercises,apps, push hands,and sparring.

    If you just want to envision apps as you practice your solo form there are TC books w/apps.

    @ zombiekicker--- Nigel Sutton is a disciple in a TC lineage known for fighting in SE Asian CMA tourneys. He's also a practitioner of Pentjak Silat.

    I can't say what you may find in an individual club or instructor but a few years ago Sutton's org hosted a seminar given by a friend of mine--- on old timey northern European dagger fighting!

    Not your average TC group. If it was in my neighborhood I'd check it out.

    Mods,perchance these two inquiries should be moved to the TC forum?
  10. zombiekicker

    zombiekicker bagpuss

    thanks, they definitely practice the martial applications, and they teach silat, its just up the road from me

    GUATUSA New Member

    OK, thanks to all. I will probably continue in the way I am now, and practice Wing Tsun with form app.
  12. zombiekicker

    zombiekicker bagpuss

    I went to my first class and it was good, some drills , conditioning, combat applications and 37 step form
  13. Tai chi novice

    Tai chi novice New Member

    question about the Inner Energy - Nei Gong

    Hello everybody. I am novice in Tai Chi. But I have a big interest.

    I do not know what does Nei Gong mean. I was thinking that every body has got energy - inner and outer. But I saw in one new documentary movie that in practical way you can gather some kind power and you can use it with amazing results.

    Does anyone can tell me more about it, please.

    Thanks in advance
  14. Xue Sheng

    Xue Sheng All weight is underside

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