There’s always a little bit of truth behind every myth, but you rarely get the full story. Sometimes the myth is born out of the exaggerated retelling of a story or a memory. Sometimes they come from misunderstood stereotypes, started by people who never really had a grasp of the subject in the first place.
The art of T’ai Chi is filthy with these kinds of myth. Some are the result of grandiose imaginations, others are worn out cliches spread through the media and pop culture. For those of us that really want to understand this art, we have to look past those legends in order to explore the truth of T’ai Chi.
A few of these myths have been passed around for so long and been so pervasive in our culture that even regular T’ai Chi practitioners might fail to question their authority. We owe it to ourselves to understand and challenge these myths, so that our own training isn’t tainted by the opinion of others, who might not really get what it means to do T’ai Chi.
We’re going to start a series of posts that uncover and explore these myths. To find out how they started and to challenge them in order to improve our own understanding of the art.
The biggest and most destructive myth about T’ai Chi is that it’s only for people who are old or in ill health. This myth comes from academic studies and media reports that focus on the positive effect T’ai Chi has on people who are aging or suffer from a variety of ailments. Yes, T’ai Chi is beneficial for people who have health problems or are getting older.
But guess what; It’s also beneficial for people who are young and healthy. In fact, if you practice T’ai Chi early, there’s a chance that you will be able to maintain a healthy lifestyle well into your later years.
Your body’s kinda like a car. If you change the oil, rotate the tires, replace worn out belts, and keep the engine tuned, your vehicle should last a very long time. But if you only open the hood when your ‘Check Engine’ light comes on, you’re probably going to have some problems.
T’ai Chi is a way to give your body a daily ‘tune up’. It lubricates the joints, oils the system, and charges your battery. If you take the time to start this ‘full body’ maintenance early, you’re sure to get many of extra problem free ‘miles’.
One of the main goals of Embrace T’ai Chi is to debunk this common myth. We want to bring a wide variety of people to this art.
Of course, T’ai Chi is beneficial for people that are trying to fight off the effects of aging. It’s been shown to improve the health of people diagnosed with a multitude of physical problems. T’ai Chi is a great way to recapture some healthy, youthful energy, but it’s also very beneficial to people that happen to young and healthy.
T’ai Chi eases stress, improves creativity, promotes good posture, relaxes the spirit, soothes depression, calms the mind, and provides healthy activity that doesn’t overly stress the body. It provides an excellent method of mindful practice, and properly trained, is a very practical form of self defense. Even someone in perfect health could gain great advantage from these benefits.
T’ai Chi is for everybody. Don’t let the media fool you into thinking you’re too young or too healthy to give it a try. If an ‘Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure’… then T’ai Chi should be measured in Tons!
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