Internal Exercises for Health and Longevity
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) include’s many different modalities and forms of healing, they include Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Tuina (massage), Cupping, Tai Chi and Qi Qong (chi kung). A lot of these ancient healing arts are used separately or in combination when dealing with disease and disorder. The Chinese have been practicing TCM for well over 3,000 years, with some sources quoting closer to 5,000, but whatever the case may be any medicine that can stand that test of time and still be as useful today as it was all those many years ago must be a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the healing of the human body.
Tai Chi Chuan, or Taijiquan, is an ancient Chinese form of co-ordinated body movements focusing on the cultivation of internal energy ‘chi’ or ‘qi’. Its aim is to harmonise the mind, body, and spirit, promoting both mental and physical well-being through softness and relaxation. It is also applicable as an effective system of self-defense. When practiced correctly the movements (or Form) of tai chi appear rhythmical, effortless and in continuous flow.
With the practice of tai chi, the student becomes revitalised, relaxed, tolerant, self-confident and stronger and healthier in both mind and body. Unlike most forms of exercise and sport, tai-chi does not rely on strength, force, and speed, making it ideal for people of both sexes, strong or weak. Even with a small amount of practice, you will find beneficial effects on your health & fitness. The mind and body relax, helping to combat the stresses and strains of modern society. It gently tones and strengthens your muscles. It improves your balance and posture. It improves medical conditions, e.g. cardiovascular, respiratory and digestive disorders plus helps with arthritis. There have been many misconceptions about its practical use for self-defense, the art being often only regarded as a health & fitness exercise. This is a mistaken view. Each movement of the form has a logical practical combat application. If a posture cannot be used, the form is clearly incorrect
In modern industrial societies, where many people engaged in office work and lead very inactive lives, proper exercise is all the more important for good health. The importance of exercise for health has been recognized in Chinese culture since very early times. The Chinese say that all diseases can be contributed to a lack of exercise and a bad diet. Chinese culture refers to two types of exercise, one known as “external exercises”, the other as “internal exercises”. External exercises are aimed at developing muscles, sinews and the cardiovascular system. All Western-type sports, exercise classes and games can be classified as such. Internal exercises are aimed at developing Qi (internal energy) and massaging and tonifying the internal organs by a coordination of the slow rhythmical movements.
Qi Qong (chi kung)
Qigong is an ancient Chinese health care system that integrates physical postures, breathing techniques and focused intention. The word Qigong (Chi Kung) is made up of two Chinese words. Qi is pronounced chee and is usually translated to mean the life force or vital energy that flows through all things in the universe.
The second word, Gong, pronounced gung, means accomplishment, or skill that is cultivated through steady practice. Together, Qigong (Chi Kung) means cultivating energy. It is a system practiced for health maintenance, healing, and increasing vitality.
Qigong is an integration of physical postures, breathing techniques, and focused intentions. Qigong creates an awareness of and influences dimensions of our being that are not part of traditional exercise programs. Most exercises do not involve the meridian system used in acupuncture nor do they emphasize the importance of adding mind intent and breathing techniques to physical movements. When these dimensions are added, the benefits of exercise increase exponentially. Often called the Chinese version of Yoga, Qi Gong is now recognised as an effective and entirely natural means of stress management and quickly improves concentration, clarity of mind and physical vitality.
I teach Tai Chi and Qi Qong as well as meditation as part of my ZenDao Combatives class, they complement very well the physical combative self defence part of the class, adding the important Yin (soft) aspect to the positive Yang (hard) aspect thereby bringing about harmony and balance to the mind, body and spirit. This is my humblest opinion is the perfect system for personal self-development and self-defense.