Tai Chi - Chinese martial art often practiced for HEALTH reasons

Tai chi chuan is an internal Chinese martial art often practiced for health reasons. Tai chi is typically practiced for a variety of other personal reasons: its hard and soft martial art technique, demonstration competitions, health and longevity. Consequently, a multitude of training forms exist, both traditional and modern, which correspond to those aims. Some of tai chi chuan's training forms are well known to Westerners as the slow motion routines that groups of people practice together every morning in parks around the world, particularly in China.

Tai chi, which originated in China as a martial art, is a mind-body practice in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Tai chi is sometimes referred to as "moving meditation" - practitioners move their bodies slowly, gently, and with awareness, while breathing deeply. This Backgrounder provides a general overview of tai chi and suggests sources for additional information.

The study of tai chi chuan primarily involves three aspects

  1. Health: An unhealthy or otherwise uncomfortable person may find it difficult to meditate to a state of calmness or to use tai chi as a martial art. Tai chi's health training therefore concentrates on relieving the physical effects of stress on the body and mind. For those focused on tai chi's martial application, good physical fitness is an important step towards effective self-defense.
  2. Meditation: The focus and calmness cultivated by the meditative aspect of tai chi is seen as necessary in maintaining optimum health (in the sense of relieving stress and maintaining homeostasis) and in application of the form as a soft style martial art.
  3. Martial art: The ability to use tai chi as a form of self-defense in combat is the test of a student's understanding of the art. Tai chi chuan martially is the study of appropriate change in response to outside forces; the study of yielding and "sticking" to an incoming attack rather than attempting to meet it with opposing force.

Tai Chi and Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease in which the body's immune system attacks its own healthy tissues. The attack happens mostly in the joints of the feet and hands and causes redness, pain, swelling and heat around the joint. Tai Chi, also called 'Tai Chi Chuan' combines deep breathing and relaxation with slow and gentle movements. In older people, Tai Chi has been shown to decrease stress, increase muscle strength in the lower body, and improve balance, posture and the ability to move. There is "silver" level evidence that Tai Chi improves the range of motion of the ankle, hip and knee in people with rheumatoid arthritis. It did not improve people's ability to do chores, joint tenderness, grip strength or their number of swollen joints nor did it increase their symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Ref:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tai_chi_chuan

http://nccam.nih.gov/health/taichi/

http://www.tai-chi.com/

http://rheumatology.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/44/5/685

http://www.cochrane.org/reviews/en/ab004849.html

http://www.rheumatoid.org.uk/article.php?article_id=53