Tai Chi for Take Time Out

Jalal profile picAs part of the Take Time Out campaign, Careers Consultant Jalal Afhim will be running tai chi sessions on:

Monday the 9th of May at the Maughan Library 5-6pm

Monday the 16th of May at Guy’s campus from 5-6pm. 

Here, Jalal tells us about the different elements of the Chen style of tai chi and how it can benefit our wellbeing.

Chen style tai chi

Chen Style tai chi (or taijiquan) originated in central China, when Ming Dynasty general Chen Wangting (1580-1660) combined his knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), and external martial arts, with internal martial arts/self-cultivation techniques originating in the Taoist community at Wudang Mountain. The martial art was taught only within the family, from one generation to the next, until Chen Changxing taught his servant Yang Luchan. Yang went on to found Yang Style tai chi. The last 30 years have seen Chen Style being taught well beyond its traditional confines, as the Chen family have worked hard to bring their art to a wider audience. In particular Chen Xiaowang’s efforts have led to the founding of tai chi schools and groups across Europe, Australia, and the United States.Jalal 1

Tai chi demonstrations at Take Time Out

I will be demonstrating some reeling silk (chan si) exercises. Reeling silk is a type of movement fundamental to Chen Style, and not obviously present in the other tai chi styles. It is a consistent part of the Chen Style curriculum, and builds leg strength, hip flexibility, and the spiralling movement (luo xuan) from which Chen Style derives its power. See videos of Chen Xiaowang or Chen Xiaoxing (his brother) on Youtube for demonstrations of power (fa jin/fa li) or reeling silk. I will also demonstrate some chi gong techniques, and the opening of the empty hand long form known as Laojia Yilu.

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Other elements to Chen style tai chi training (not being demonstrated)

The curriculum in Chen Style is varied, and includes the following:

  • Weapon forms: dadao (halberd), straight sword, saber, spear, pole, three-section staff
  • Pole-shaking
  • Standing post (a static chi-gong exercise)
  • Silk reeling (single & double handed, static & stepping)
  • Push hands (single & double-handed, static & stepping, semi- and full-contact)
  • Empty hand long form, first route (Laojia Yilu)
  • Cannon Fist (Laojia Erlu)

Benefits to Wellbeing

Tai chi is both a martial art, and a form of exercise which nurtures good health and wellness. It is very versatile in that it can be practiced in a physically demanding way for the more athletically inclined, or a less demanding way for those who are older or frailer. It promotes:

  • Enhanced body awareness and control (can also help posture)
  • Relaxation, both physical and mental
  • Balance and leg strength (especially useful for the elderly)
  • Healthy circulation (helping joint health)
  • Good digestion (due to the waist rotation movements and abdominal breathing)
  • Self-defence (although this takes longer to develop than most martial arts)

Where to learn more

  • You can read about the Chen Family school in Henan Province, China, here. This is where I was taught.
  • The school in Chenjiagou has a UK branch, here.
  • There is a good exponent of Chen Style teaching in London, here.

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