T’ai Chi classes starting at American Martial Arts Academy

T’ai Chi is an old martial art that has been misrepresented in modern times. Many are flocking to studios and fitness centers that claim they are teaching T’ai Chi yet what they are learning is a set of simplified moves.  Moves that have been adapted and modernized without definition. Now, to the contrary, movement of any kind is great. But unless the art is practiced in its entirety it is not T’ai Chi.

American Martial Arts Academy has been teaching and practicing the art T’ai Chi for the past 20 years under the tutelage of Sifu (master instructor) David Leung. Sifu David has made several visits to our Academy and will be returning this summer.

American Martial Arts Academy is offering an Introductory Beginner class on Tuesday, Feb. 18 at 4 p.m., and will run for four consecutive weeks. Beginners will learn the fundamentals of the art and begin learning the short form. There is no floor work, and while the moves in and of themselves appear simple, there is a lot involved in learning the proper breathing with each movement.

Anyone, regardless of age or physical ability, can practice T’ai Chi. It doesn’t take physical prowess. Rather, T’ai Chi emphasizes technique over strength.

T’ai Chi is used to: reduce stress; increase flexibility; improve muscle strength and definition; increase energy, stamina and agility; increase feelings of well-being.

T’ai Chi has more than 100 possible movements and positions. You can find several that you like and stick with those, or explore the full range. The intensity of T’ai Chi varies somewhat depending on the form or style practiced. Some forms of T’ai Chi are more fast-paced than others, for instance. However, most forms are gentle and suitable for everyone. And they all include rhythmic patterns of movement that are coordinated with breathing.

Although T’ai Chi is generally safe, consider talking with your doctor before starting a new program. This is particularly important if you have any problems with your joints, spine or heart.

Like other practices that bring mind and body together, T’ai Chi can reduce stress. During T’ai Chi, you focus on movement and breathing. This combination creates a state of relaxation and calm. Stress, anxiety and tension should melt away as you focus on the present, and the effects may last well after you stop your T’ai Chi session.

T’ai Chi may also help your overall health, although it’s not a substitute for traditional medical care. T’ai Chi is generally safe for people of all ages and levels of fitness. Older adults may especially find T’ai Chi appealing because the movements are low impact and put minimal stress on muscles and joints. T’ai Chi may also be helpful if you have arthritis or are recovering from an injury.

Despite its ancient history, T’ai Chi has been studied scientifically only in recent years. And that research is suggesting that T’ai Chi may offer numerous other benefits beyond stress reduction, including: reducing anxiety and depression; improving balance and coordination; reducing the number of falls; improving sleep quality, such as staying asleep longer at night and feeling more alert during the day; slowing bone loss in women after menopause; lowering blood pressure; improving cardiovascular fitness; relieving chronic pain; improving everyday physical functioning continued.

T’ai Chi improves stress reduction, balance, agility for all. Wondering how to get started in T’ai Chi? You don’t need any special clothing or equipment to do T’ai Chi. To gain full benefits, however, it may be best to seek guidance from a qualified T’ai Chi instructor.

A T’ai Chi instructor can teach you specific positions and how to regulate your breathing. An instructor also can teach you how to practice T’ai Chi safely, especially if you have injuries, chronic conditions, or balance or coordination problems. Al-though T’ai Chi is slow and gentle, with virtually no negative side effects, injuries are possible if T’ai Chi isn’t done properly. It’s possible you could strain yourself or overdo it when first learning. Or if you have balance problems, you could fall during T’ai Chi.

You can find T’ai Chi classes in many communities today. Contact your local senior center, YMCA or YWCA, health club, community education center or wellness facility for help finding qualified instructors.

During T’ai Chi classes, the instructor can give you personal guidance and correct any errors in your style before they become habit. Eventually, you may feel confident enough to do T’ai Chi on your own. But if you like the social element, consider sticking with group classes and putting T’ai Chi into practice.

To reap the greatest stress reduction benefits from T’ai Chi, consider practicing it regularly. Many people find it helpful to practice T’ai Chi in the same place and at the same time every day to develop a routine. But if your schedule is erratic, do T’ai Chi whenever you have a few minutes.

You can even draw on the soothing concepts of T’ai Chi without performing the actual movements if you get stuck in stressful situations — a traffic jam or a work conflict, for instance.

To register call 920-229-2622.