Students at the Brea Shaolin Kung Fu studio focus their energy into their balance. Tai chi helps with movement of the body and lower body strength.
Chu-Ling yee / Daily Titan
Students suffering from stress and are overwhelmed by school may want to try tai chi. Tai chi, an ancient kung fu fighting defense, can help relieve stress and lower blood pressure.
Tai chi originated as a form of martial arts, but due to its health benefits, tai chi is now taught as an exercise too.
The exercise can ease tension, strengthen the lower body and help blood flow more easily throughout the body. Tai chi provides a workout without the intensity of a regular cardio workout. The movements are typically circular and never forced.
Master Charles Robert, owner of Brea Shaolin Kung Fu, said tai chi helps the thighs act as a second heart. Tai chi movements help muscles in the thighs contract, causing less strain and work for the heart to pump blood. Robert has practiced tai chi for 20 years and his studio teaches more of an internal and competition form.
Internal focuses on breathing and less of muscle power to exert force. Competition form of tai chi is not fighting, but it is judged on timing and technique. Tai chi instead focuses on the little movements of the body.
There were originally five styles of tai chi: Yang, Wu, Chen, Hao and Combination. Years ago, an assembly gathered in China and decided to standardize the five different forms of tai chi to create a competition form.
Anybody can begin taking tai chi for its health benefits and further their skills by tackling competitive aspects of the practice.
Master Jeu Susing who teaches tai chi at the studio begins teaching students the basic Twenty-Four Movement, which consists of 24 separate movements. The competition forms of movements are titled by numbers of steps in them.
“The teacher is the key,” Susing said. Average students are unable to reproduce the same results by themselves. Students are limited to what they know.
Master Susing teaches students not only how to do the movements, but also how to improve their chi.
One of the main reasons why tai chi is effective in helping to relieve stress is attributed to the deep breathing that is involved. When students are focused in what they are doing and are breathing correctly, they can find peace with themselves. They focus on themselves and forget about the situations that are causing them stress.
Stress causes high blood pressure, chest pain and fatigue, according to the Mayo Clinic. By taking tai chi, people can help prevent future illnesses. Tai chi has also been proven to help ease fibromyalgia and arthritis.
Doug Robson, 66, said tai chi has helped him with arthritis and keep his body limber. Robson attends classes at the studio twice a week.
Tai chi eases the joints and lubricates them with all the movements they do. There is no aggressive jumping involved that could harm the bones.
Another benefit of the exercise is that no one is there to scream at the students, because it is a relaxing environment.
The lower part of the body also gets stronger since tai chi requires people to move their hips and use their legs. There is a misconception about tai chi that it is a slow-paced exercise most suited to seniors. Robson said anyone can do this form of exercise.
“I can do just about any form and it will start calming me down,” Robson said.
He recommends practicing tai chi for 15 to 30 minutes a day. Susing said people can see improvement within three months.