The ancient art of Chen style tai chi

Chen style tai chi was created by Chen Wangting, a 17th century royal guard from Chenjiagou village in Wenxian County Henan province. Shrouded in secrecy until the early 20th century, Chen tai chi is now practised widely, not only in China and the far east but throughout the western world.

Central to Chen Wangting’s tai chi method was the ancient concept of yin and yang, the all-encompassing notion of complementary opposites that underpins Chinese culture and philosophy. Yin and yang represent the perpetual process of change and the flux in nature, such as night and day, female and male, decay and growth. Chinese philosophy is based on the concept of harmonising with nature rather than dominating it.

In tai chi, the aim is to harmonise opposing elements until they reach a state of balance. This will allow for optimum benefits, be they physical or mental, for health or martial skill. For example movements that are slow and relaxed are yin, and movements that are fast and strong are yang.

Although people seldom need martial skill for survival today, tai chi remains an excellent art of self-defence, with considerable health benefits. It is a highly developed system of harmonising the external body with internal energy. Its external movements stretch and strengthen the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, while the unique spiralling and twining movements massage the internal organs as well as circulate the qi energy throughout the body. In China it is practised daily by millions to preserve and enhance vitality. It combines power, grace, and agility, and is a means of self-expression for many.

Research by western scientists has documented numerous health benefits including reduced blood pressure, increased bone density, increased leg strength, and a lower incidence of falls among the elderly.

Athlone Tai Chi teacher Keith Ryan will do a free talk and demo in St Kieran’s Community Centre on Wednesday, September 21 at 7.20pm. Beginner classes start on Wednesday, September 28 at 11.30am in 4 Bastion Street, and 7.20pm in St Kieran’s Community Centre. All are welcome. For more info call Keith on (087 ) 2172084, email [email protected], or see www.chentaichiireland.com

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