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The Chinese Martial Art Gaining Popularity for Its Physical and Mental Benefits

CultureThe Chinese Martial Art Gaining Popularity for Its Physical and Mental Benefits

Song Fei, a 29-year-old fitness vlogger based in Shanghai, had been struggling with scoliosis and lumbar pain for years despite regularly exercising at the gym. However, after just a month of practicing taijiquan, she noticed a significant improvement in her posture and reduction in her chronic pain. She shared her experience on Xiaohongshu, a lifestyle-sharing platform, and has since incorporated taijiquan into her daily routine and fitness courses.

Taijiquan, a Chinese martial art, has gained popularity as a form of mind-body exercise, meditation, and stress reduction in recent years, particularly among young people. More people are also finding creative ways to integrate taijiquan into their daily lives, including design and fitness training. As a result, it has become a sought-after practice, not only for its physical benefits but also for its positive impact on mental well-being.

Song’s journey with taijiquan began after years of struggling with chronic pain and posture issues. Despite her consistent exercise routine at the gym, her conditions continued to worsen. However, after discovering taijiquan, she noticed significant improvements in her body and mind. Through regular practice, she was able to alleviate her pain and improve her overall health.

As a former female champion of a fitness model competition in Beijing, Song’s story of finding relief through taijiquan has inspired many. She has shared her experience on Xiaohongshu, where she has a large following. She now incorporates taijiquan into her fitness courses and daily routine, showcasing the versatility and accessibility of this traditional martial art.

Taijiquan’s popularity continues to grow, as more people discover its physical and mental benefits. It has become a widely recognized practice for improving overall health and well-being. Additionally, with the emergence of creative ways to incorporate taijiquan into various aspects of daily life, it is becoming more accessible to those who may have never considered it before.

Song Fei’s experience with taijiquan highlights the positive impact this traditional Chinese martial art can have on physical and mental health. As more people seek out natural remedies for chronic pain and stress relief, taijiquan’s popularity will likely continue to rise. Its accessibility and versatility make it an excellent choice for anyone looking to improve their overall well-being.

Song Fei, began experiencing lumbar pain and knee discomfort. She decided it was time to search for correctional therapy and taijiquan came up in her search results. She then decided to undertake formal training in this martial art.

The first lesson Song learned in taijiquan was standing exercise. She recalls feeling something completely different than when she exercised at the gym. She felt a heat flow between her two hands and in her abdominal cavity.

Initially, Song found the practice to be monotonous. She had to practice the same set of movements for nearly two years. However, it became a process of reconnecting each part of her body.

Gradually, Song began to feel a sense of calmness while practicing taijiquan. In the gym, she listened to music or thought about other things while working out because each exercise was repetitive and stable. In contrast, taijiquan movements are flowing, and she had to remain constantly focused.

Song, who experienced pain in her lumbar region and knees, decided to try taijiquan as a form of corrective therapy. She soon found that the martial art required her to be constantly aware of the source of her strength, the position of her body, and the harmony between her body and mind. She states that taijiquan is like meditation and helps to alleviate anxiety and pain.

Initially, Song viewed taijiquan as a gentle exercise, but soon realized that it contains infinite power and Chinese wisdom. According to her, the balance of yin and yang is reflected in each movement of the practice. After practicing taijiquan, Song noticed improvements in her skin, energy levels, and circulation.

Song previously exercised to the point of exhaustion at the gym to burn calories, but her taijiquan practice has instilled in her the value of saving energy. She believes that saving energy has enabled her to accomplish more in her daily life. Song learns taijiquan from Li Guangjin, a master who created his own Li-style taijiquan.

Li started practicing martial arts at the age of 7 and began learning taijiquan in his 30s. After practicing various taijiquan styles, including Chen-style, Yang-style, and Wu-style, and with his knowledge of health preservation and Chinese martial arts, he developed his own style of taijiquan. His style focuses on maintaining health and combat, and taijiquan is a reflection of traditional Chinese philosophy, including Taoist thoughts.

One of the key principles of taijiquan is to maintain an upright position and place the center of gravity on the feet. Li emphasizes the importance of relaxation, stating that practicing taijiquan can reduce stress, which is a significant problem in modern society. The slow, fluid movements of taijiquan are suitable for individuals of all ages and fitness levels, and regular practice can improve overall health and well-being. However, it is crucial to receive professional guidance while practicing taijiquan. Li has taught over 10,000 students of varying ages and currently has two full-time apprentices who are university graduates and devoted to learning and inheriting taijiquan.

Taijiquan, or tai chi, is often associated with older people practicing in parks, but more young people are breaking the stereotype and taking up the Chinese martial art. One of them is Lin Xiaoxue, a 32-year-old visual designer who has attracted over 138,000 followers on Xiaohongshu by posting videos of herself practicing taijiquan in both traditional and modern attire.

Lin started practicing taijiquan in 2015 to improve her weak constitution. As a child, she often fell ill and failed to find relief through traditional Chinese and Western medicine. She learned taijiquan by watching instructional videos online while living in Vietnam for half a year in 2016. There, she witnessed the global popularity of the martial art when she saw a Vietnamese instructor teaching a group of expats.

Upon returning to China to work in Shenzhen, Lin encountered a group of people practicing taijiquan in a local square and started practicing regularly with an instructor named Huang Houda, an apprentice of Tashi, one of the successors of Yang-style taijiquan. She now practices almost every day at 6 am, a habit that requires great willpower to maintain.

Lin has noticed many health benefits from practicing taijiquan. She has built muscle, lowered her body fat percentage, and experienced improvements in her temperament and anxiety levels. She also enjoys the meditative state that taijiquan puts her in and has gradually become more familiar with the traditional Chinese philosophy behind the martial art.

According to Chinese philosophy, taijiquan is the ultimate origin of the cosmos. This philosophy has inspired ChiRunning, a combination of tai chi and running that is purported to reduce injury risk. The training philosophy, founded by ultra-marathon runner Danny Dreyer from the United States, has gained popularity globally due to its emphasis on posture, muscle relaxation, mindfulness, and a systematic breathing method.

Lin has also designed visual works inspired by taijiquan and hopes to promote the martial art through modern means. She is just one of many young people who are embracing taijiquan, recognizing its potential to promote physical and mental health, and its rich history and cultural significance.

In 2017, Wen Yi, an enthusiastic runner from Huizhou, Guangdong province, attended a ChiRunning training event in Shenzhen and Hong Kong, which was taught by Danny Dreyer. Wen had been experiencing knee pain and even fainted during a marathon, so he sought a safer and more efficient running method. He found that ChiRunning combined the principles of tai chi philosophy with running techniques, creating a scientific running system that reduces the risk of injury.

Wen explains that tai chi was initially an ancient Chinese wisdom that was recorded in books. As more individuals become interested in taijiquan, they start to comprehend the meaning of life. Tai chi philosophy has now expanded beyond its original source, inspiring different practices like ChiRunning. According to Wen, it is essential to keep pace with modern life to promote tai chi, which he describes as an old towering tree, and ChiRunning is one of its fruits that can benefit today’s society. He takes pride in teaching ChiRunning while plogging, which he finds very meaningful.

The Huizhou Plogging Association is known for arranging activities that involve jogging while collecting litter. Wen volunteered last year to teach others how to plog, and he used the opportunity to share the techniques of ChiRunning. He believes that combining exercise, environmental protection, and good deeds into a single activity like plogging is an excellent way to encourage more people to join the events. According to Wen, many parents bring their children to the events, emphasizing the importance of keeping the environment clean and promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Wen believes that ChiRunning is a scientific running system that can help individuals improve their health while reducing the risk of injury. He explains that it combines the essence of tai chi philosophy with running techniques, making it an excellent method for runners of all ages. Wen himself has benefited from practicing ChiRunning and has made it his mission to promote it to others. He believes that promoting ChiRunning will help keep pace with modern life and keep tai chi relevant in today’s society.

Wen is proud to be teaching ChiRunning while plogging, as he believes it is a meaningful way to spread the word about both activities. He takes pride in helping individuals improve their health while contributing to environmental protection. Wen hopes that more people will discover the benefits of ChiRunning and become inspired to lead a healthier and more active lifestyle.

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