guiding you to better health

Part Of The Lighthouse Fitness & Well-being Brand  UK

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Question 1. What is tai chi and its health benefits?


Answer : Tai Chi (also known as tai chi chuan, taiji and taijiquan) is a martial art characterized by a sequence of dynamic movements that combine soft and hard, with fast and slow actions, in a balanced and natural way that adheres to the philosophical Taoist principles of yin and yang, based on the understanding of the internal energy meridians as used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. During practice the body remains relaxed, with the practitioner’s consciousness, breathing and actions all closely connected. These unique features enhance benefits to health, fitness and well-being....... More information


Question 4. What am I expected to learn?

Answer : Learning Tai chi is a personal journey. The sequences or ‘forms’ are designed to combine different tai chi movements into a flowing progression and to challenge balance, co-ordination and memory. It is important for students to make time for personal practise to improve and advance…… More information



 Question 6. Do I have to attend every week or will I get behind?

Answer : Weekly attendance will give a solid basis and continuity to your learning. Most health studies are based on attending twice a week for 12 consecutive weeks. However our weekly sessions are not delivered as a specific educational course and we understand that people have busy lives and commitments that means they cannot always attend as regularly as they wish. Our teaching approach means you can layer the information given over time and missing a week will not impede your learning. The classes are all drop-in style. Learning tai chi will take longer if you miss a few sessions but you will still learn and be very welcome when you can attend.


Question 5. What should I wear?

Answer :  Thin soled sports shoes without strong grip on the bottom; such as standard pumps or plimsolls that are clean and comfortable. Kung Fu slippers or Fei Yue shoes can be bought online if you prefer something specifically designed for tai chi. Trainers, boots and heeled shoes will affect your balance, foot sensitivity and create pull on the joints. ........ More information


Question  7. What if I can’t keep up with other students?

Answer : Many beginners worry that they won’t be able to ‘keep up’ and are nervous they will embarrass themselves in front of others. This is something we all feel once we try to learn something new. Tai chi is complicated for the first 2-3 years, but it is not competitive. A sense of humour is useful for overcoming your feelings of awkwardness and patience is most certainly a virtue. We can assure you that nobody will be looking at you or comparing themselves to you. They should be concentrating on their own tai chi and applying their learning. It is also important to let go of ‘keeping up’ as a thought, because you will need to move slower than the instructor to see what is happening and, as we often co-teach an instructor may be adjusting or helping you.


Question 8. Once I have attended a couple of classes can’t I just learn online? NO!

Answer : Online resources and video clips are a tremendously useful as a reference for home practise, to remember the move you are working on as a physical movement, but you also need to remember the instruction given in class and be able to apply it. A note book is useful. Only following a DVD or video clip will not teach you tai chi or qigong nor can your posture be corrected or discussed. You first need to understand the 10 principles, 8 energies and 6 harmonies from an instructor to have the level of skill to learn a form without an instructor and then you will still need correcting. Relying on the internet to learn something as complicated as tai chi means you will not gain the health benefits and get bored.

Question 9. Can I use tai chi as a martial art and self-defence?

Answer : If you have studied martial arts previously most of the applications of tai chi will be self-evident and easier to learn and apply. To learn tai chi as a martial art with no experience will take many years. We recommend one to one training with an instructor once you have mastered the 10, 8 & 6 of tai chi and know a form in depth from memory. The calm, focused, mindful aspect of tai chi allows experienced martial artists to develop internal power and accuracy to progress their fighting ability. Partnered drills and push hand training is essential to learning this aspect fully.


Question 16. How long will it take to learn tai chi? Quick answer: years and you never stop learning.

Answer : Each time you acquire a level of understanding and ability you discover the next layer. Tai chi is a lifestyle and it takes you and your body time to absorb and apply what you have learned along your journey. There are always new challenges and directions in tai chi. It is not a workout routine or something you learn to perform for someone else. As an experienced tai chi player, it will still take months and even years to really learn another tai chi or qigong form. A teacher will have 3-5 years intensive training as a student before even attempting to teach someone else. What’s the rush? If you are entering a competition or doing a performance for an event, you must tell your instructor so they can help you manage and achieve your goals. However, we mostly are just putting pressure on ourselves and trying to acquire something the easiest way possible. Anything worth having is worth working for – so relax and enjoy the journey.


Question 10. How will tai chi help with stress-busting and helping me to feel calm?

Answer : The complete focus of the mind must be applied to do tai chi and qigong. If the mind wanders the form becomes empty. This level of focus will take time to learn, acquire and develop. If your mind has wandered off, you will need to be kind to yourself and gently bring the mind back to what you are doing in the present. This is the essence of any mindfulness practises or meditation. You will not be able to do this without time, patience and practise. Moving slowly and breathing slowly helps to calm the mind.

Question 11. Why do we move so slowly?

Answer : At first you will move too much and too fast. This is because you are trying to exercise rather than apply the principles and learn how to do tai chi. If we try to stretch and push our bodies to move we create muscular tension, which is counter-productive for tai chi. Tension in the body blocks the flow of Qi energy. To open our meridians and encourage the smooth flow of qi we need to relax the muscles, going deep into the body. We become most aware of the core muscles and ‘dan tien’ area and feel the subtle movement of qi overtime. Most exercise de-sensitises us to how our bodies feel, so we must distract ourselves with loud music and we do not acknowledge any pain we are feeling. Tai chi at beginner level can be uncomfortable for anyone who has built up chronic pain in their body, but over time this will relax, and the pain will reduce.

Question 12. Why can’t I remember the form?

Answer : The forms are designed to allow students to learn together in a coherent flow. They will challenge you mentally and physically. The best way to memorize is to slow down, learn one section at a time until you know it without reference and make your own notes after class. Trying to learn a whole sequence will build frustration and you will probably need to unlearn parts of it. The movements and postures are not what makes it tai chi and do not bring the reported health benefits on their own. Therefore, you should only learn tai chi and qigong from an experienced, professional instructor. Memorizing things is harder as we get older. Tai chi specifically challenges the brain to stimulate new growth and neural connections. Keep trying and your brain will allow you to learn more over time. Tai chi is more like learning a new language or musical instrument than doing a fitness class. You will not be fluent or able to perform pieces by heart quickly unless you are very gifted and even then, it takes time. Patience and kindness to yourself is key.

Question 13.  How does tai chi help my health condition?

Answer : There are many studies for a variety of health conditions where tai chi has been ‘proven’ to help or improve. From experience we find all health conditions have an individual aspect to them but in general the understanding of how tai chi works is poor. The moves are not useful in themselves but the way we learn to move, improved posture and breathing and relaxation is the key. Placing your hands and feet in a certain position will not cure or help any condition. Learning, applying and practising the principles, energies and harmonies through a form or sequence of movements will do much to improve most health conditions. The gain of these benefits will take the time it takes you to learn. Improved balance and co-ordination is the first indicator that you are learning correctly.


Question 14. If by balance/co-ordination is poor can I still learn tai chi?   YES!

Answer : This is in fact why you absolutely should learn tai chi. It will be challenging at first, but you can improve both balance and co-ordination with tai chi. Leg strength is another of the benefits of tai chi practice and this also has been proved to help prevent falls. If you are off balance or poorly co-ordinated learning to focus on your body and weight distribution in your feet part of the 10 principles. As we get older balance can become a problem due to many factors including hearing loss, muscle wastage after prolonged illnesses and a more sedentary lifestyle. The slower movements of tai chi build up strength internally and our classes are limited on numbers – so if you do go the wrong way, you are unlikely to injure yourself or someone else.

Question 15. How does Daoism (Taoism) relate to tai chi?

Answer : Tai chi is based on Daoist principles. However, you do not need to become a Daoist to learn or practise tai chi or qigong. Understanding the principles and background to tai chi helps to deepen your knowledge but there is no religious or philosophical teaching in our classes. This is not part of what we teach. If this aspect interests you particularly there are many books, dvds and online resources start your research.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taoism Please be wary of following ‘gurus’ and intensive Daoist training if you are emotionally vulnerable. Always check who someone is and what their background and approach has been.

If you have a question that we have not thought of, please email us with your question.


faq@lighthousetaichi.com

Question 2. What is Qi Gong-

Answer :  Qi means ‘Energy’ and Gong means ‘Work’; Qigong literally is ‘Energy work’. Within Chinese Traditional Medicine (TCM) theories, there are many thousands of Qi Gong routines, covering a wide range of movements, breathing techniques and aimed at specific outcomes. Qi Gong has been practised and developed over many centuries, resulting in a wide variety of routines. The main objective of Qi Gong is to balance and promote Qi circulation in the body, to maintain a healthy body and promote wellbeing.


There are many branches of Qi Gong and the routines vary in their complexity, the number of postures, and the level of physical or mentally Challenge. Breath work and visualisation supplement the physical movements; therefore, Qi Gong is also a mindful practise. A simple routine may take a few weeks to learn but, many years to truly understand and master.

Question 3. What is Chinese Yoga

Answer : These Qi Gong routines are specifically focused on dynamic movements of the body, combined with specific breathing methods and visualisations to strengthen the body promoting strong Qi flow. Very similar to Yoga and many sharing the same heritage or lineage they are sometimes called ‘Chinese Yoga’. Within these routines there are a variety of postures which are usually more physically demanding than other Qi Gong sequences, many having their roots in Chinese Martial Arts, aimed at enhancing the practitioner’s martial prowess, and to aid in recovery.


Chinese Yoga is great addition to a workout regime; promoting, strength, flexibility and dynamic explosive power.