Senior Teacher Matthew Ward sheds light on what Tai Chi is and why people should practice it
Invented by Taoist monks, Tai Chi is a martial art developed from the much older health systems of Taoist meditation, Qigong (Chinese yoga) and Taoist Longevity breathing.
Today it is used mainly as a health practise and is easily recognised by its slow sequence of movements. The Chinese Government recommends that all older people take up this art and so millions of Chinese people fill parks everyday making it the most popular form of exercise in the world.
Practising Tai Chi improves overall health as a gentle low impact form of exercise with added benefits such as relaxation, meditation, lots of stretching and by correcting your breathing, posture and movement.
The style of Tai Chi I teach was invented by a doctor named Cheng Man Ching (1902- 1975) who became fascinated with the health benefits of this ancient art. Often his patients were very frail and weak and so Doctor Cheng adapted one of the older Tai Chi forms into a more gentle, less demanding art. As a physiotherapist he understood that every student is unique and in order for each move to best benefit our own health, our style emphasizes carefully developing our own style adapted for our own specific health needs.
Over my years of teaching, (since 2006) inspired by Doctor Cheng’s ideology, rather than teach the art in the same way for everyone I am continually finding new ways of adapting the older classical Tai Chi forms and movements into specialist courses and making them accessible to everyone regardless of age, ability or fitness level.
Although still highly effective as a kung Fu martial style, our style focuses on the health principles and theories from Traditional Chinese Medicine. In my classes we look in depth at how the human body works best, what is a correct posture, how to move more efficiently and safely.
We practice basic everyday movements such as turning the hips correctly to stop the knees twisting, how to breathe naturally like a baby, how to get the shoulder blades moving, how to squat safely and correctly and how to stretch by spiraling to ‘wring out’ the body to name just a few
You need no special equipment for Tai Chi. Please bring a bottle of water and wear loose, comfortable clothing and flat shoes. There is no uniform, no belts and no grading system in our style. There is no new religion to convert to and you will not be expected to learn Chinese.
Founder and chief instructor at The Inner Harmony School
Find out more about Mat below
I began my Martial arts ‘career’ aged 10 with several years of study in Shotokan Karate, After dabbling in many other arts including Classical yoga, Tae Kwon Do, Kung Fu , Judo and Aikido I discovered Tai Chi and Qigong in 1996 and they have continued to fascinate me ever since.
Over the years I trained with many Tai Chi and Qigong teachers firstly with Simon Robins for over a decade. Simon studied with John Eastman who was one of Professor Cheng Man Ching’s senior students. More recently I have trained in the style of Willie Lim, a student of Master Yek who in turn was a student of master Huang.
Today I study Yoga and Traditional Shiatsu at the Meikai Dojo and have been a proud student of the Shin Jin Dojo since 2008 where I study traditional Japanese martial arts.
YOU CAN FIND MATTHEW AT STUDIO iO EVERY WEDNESDAY AT 10:00 – BOOK HERE