What is tai chi?

Tai Chi is a traditional Chinese system of keeping fit and improving physical and mental well being.

It is suitable for people of all ages, all level of physical fitness. whether it's for health and fitness, and stress and relaxation management, there is something everyone can benefit from.

The way we move and breathe, stand and walk, and even sit, can have a positive effect on our general health and well being The hectic pace of modern living and lack of exercise leaves many people tired and exhausted, which the regular practice of tai chi will help improve.

Tai chi founder

Tai chi has gentle flowing movements, so who thought them up?

Legend has it that in the time of the Sung dynasty, Chang San Feng was travelling around, when one day he stopped and rested. Soon he noticed a snake and a crane fighting.

As the snake attacked, the crane would move its wings in flowing circles, to deflect the attack. As the crane stabbed with its beak, the snake would weave around in circular motions to deflect that.

Having noticed the circular motions, Chang San Feng then set up the original system of tai chi, basing it upon those flowing motions. Since there was no force in the movements of the animals, tai chi is based on correct postures and internal strength, not force.

What is chi kung?

Chi kung means “breath work” or “energy work”. To western eyes it looks weird, but it's something anyone can learn and enjoy.

Chi kung always has particular breathing associated with each movement. In our modern society most people breathe shallow breaths, which means the air at the bottom of your lungs is likely to be stale. Now, don't go breathing deeply on roads with heavy traffic – that's not good for you either! :)

Doing chi kung should give you more energy – if you start off feeling tired, by the end of the set, you should find you feel much more chipper.

The chi kung set we teach is designed for beginners – there are many different sets of chi kung, and the Chinese are working on developing specialised sets for different health conditions.

Chi Kung – a personal story.

My usual holiday routine would be to have breakfast, then go practice chi kung, followed by a swim, then tai chi in a park, then off and doing some sight seeing.

My favourite place for chi kung was down by a stream with a wide path beside it, and shady trees giving a green coolness with that wonderful tree smell...

There were the usual joggers,bikers, alpine walkers, and people exercising their dogs. Most people just looked and passed on, though after a couple of days,we began to exchange greetings too. The dog walkers were another matter...

Most dogs would yap excitedly and be dragged off by their apologetic owners. But one dog was a huge monster, with red eyes and slavering jaws, that lunged straight for me.... luckily its owner leapt on it, and wrestled it away after a struggle. However, there were a couple of Scottie dogs that fell in love with me and wanted to stay, despite the blandishments of their owner...

Anyway, it's really nice to start the day breathing in fresh air and feeling energised for the day ahead, due to chi kung.