body. mind. spirit
a holistic and integrative system
benefits of taijiquan
Taijiquan is a holistic methodology that recognises the fundamental unity of mind, body, emotions, and spirit. As such there are a multitude of interrelated benefits that are very difficult to separate.
However, in my view, and for simplicity, there are three main areas of benefit derived from the practice of Taijiquan: mindfulness/personal development; health, fitness and longevity; and self defense. I have put them in this order because I feel this is the chronology in which they are acquired through practice. Click on the images for details.
The meditative benefits of Taijiquan will probably be experienced from the very first class. After the class you will feel calm, energised, and centered. Alert and rooted in the present moment. The state that is often termed 'mindfulness'.
Continued practice will cultivate an ever deeper and more expansive state of presence, that will start to permeate every moment. A deep sense of vitality and inner peace will become a powerful inner resource
With regular practice for a few weeks or months, the health and fitness benefits that Taijiquan offers will start to express. It is a complete workout for the whole body, developing strength, stamina, flexibility and coordination.
As with the meditative aspects, the health benefits become more pronounced with deeper and continued practice. When practiced properly and consistently, Taijiquan can keep you looking and feeling young, and slow the degenerative effects of aging
The third achievement is self defense. To achieve real martial ability requires a high level of skill in Taijiquan, so it is not something that will be aquired overnight. As with all martial arts, it takes consistent and dedicated practice to gain useable self defence skills.
Having said that, there are benefits to self preservation that come before real martial Taijiquan skill has been achieved.
If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.
correcting a misconception
Often people talk about 'health Taijiquan' and 'martial Taijiquan' as if they are two separate things. In my view this is a misunderstanding. There is only one single path of Taijiquan, and as indicated, health benefits will be achieved first and martial skill much later on. But it is the same journey: the same changes in the body that give rise to the health benefits are those that give martial skill as they become more and more refined.
So the question of whether someone is interested in achieving martial skill is largely irrelevant, as the path is the same either way. And if someone is not on this path, then the health benefits will also stagnate and remain limited.