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Relaxed & Competitive with T'ai Chi

8th August, 2008

The words ‘maintain’, ‘enhance’ and ‘heal’ have been the cornerstone of traditional Chinese Medicine since millennia for acheiving health and longevity. Good health can make all the difference between feeling truly alive and spontaneous, and just pulling along. As the famous saying goes ‘An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure’. The earlier you take care of your body and mind, the longer they will serve you with little or no trouble.

The second stage of traditional Chinese medicine is aimed at enhancing all your faculties and maintaining them at their peak, so you can make the maximum use of your talent and lead a full, successful life. To this end, Chinese Medicine emphasizes the use of T’ai Chi, Chi Gung, nutrition, and self-massage, as well as herbs and acupuncture.

The third stage - healing - may not be needed, if you have nurtured the two previous stages (maintain and enhance) carefully. However, if you want to use your full potential on all fronts - physical, mental and emotional - you will have to go beyond the first two stages and heal yourself from specific health problems. Depending upon the case, one or several branches of Chinese medicine may be used to bring about healing.

One of the key principles of T’ai Chi is to make the whole body, chi, and mind move like one unified mass, with no parts moving in isolation. This is absolutely crucial for high performance sports and dance.

Emphasis on precise body alignments prevents the flow of chi from being blocked or dissipated. T’ai Chi endows athletes with more perseverance and focus. Proficiency in any other martial art demands hard work, discipline and intelligence. Even practicing a T’ai Chi Short Form can infuse regular rhythms in an athlete’s body and mind, which supplements other rhythms needed in order to develop and maintain athletic skills both during and between competition seasons.

In addition to preventing joint, muscle, and spinal injuries, T’ai Chi hastens the normal healing time and extends an athlete’s peak performance years. T’ai Chi’s gentle motions greatly enhance the flow of blood to injured areas and help rejuvenate damaged soft tissues.

By stimulating the central nervous system and increasing your reservoir of chi, T’ai Chi promotes speed, reflexes, power, and endurance. It is well known that T’ai Chi improves left and right-brain functions, whose result can be measured in terms of improved hand-eye coordination. Practising T’ai Chi also promotes the feeling of “time slowing down or seeming to stop”, which can be instrumental in bringing out better athletic performance. T’ai Chi improves peripheral vision, enabling athletes to become more acutely aware of their surrounding.

T’ai Chi loosens and opens the joints and ligaments, increasing the reach of the arms, a valuable attribute for sports like basketball, tennis and badminton. It also helps dancers attain fluid and graceful arm movements. With the shoulder joint opening up, the pace of a bowler skyrockets. T’ai Chi’s continually spiralling motions involving hips and waist translates in the ability to turn suddenly from either left to right, or right to left - so vital in sports like basketball, football, martial arts and boxing.

T’ai Chi provides ease, adroitness, and springiness to the legs, valuable for long and short distance runners, dancers, gymnasts, and football players. By rooting energy to the ground and increasing the awareness of the lower body, T’ai Chi gives heavy weight lifters tremendous stability, balance, and maneuverability. T’ai Chi reduces internal resistance and hesitation, stumbling blocks which make it difficult for you to change tactics and strategies at will. With this comes the ability to remain relaxed yet alert under all circumstances and instantly release explosive power.