What is the best age to begin practicing Taiji exercises

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9. What is the best age to begin practicing Taiji exercises
Q41: What is the exact meaning of using any part of the body to implement martial arts applications within Taiji movements and how can you be like that?

A: Taiji training requires all parts of the body to be involved in the movements with relaxed internal energy flowing inside the body. Once the energy is full up and the body is relaxed and sensitive, it will be good against attack and can release energy in whatever direction the attack takes place. For the highly skilled masters, their bodies have been trained to be like a full ball of energy and it looks like an explosion once the energy is released. Every single point of the body should be able to release energy. That is why Taiji practitioners pay so much attention to relaxation and making the body work as a whole unit. Click to learn Schizophrenia in TCM.

Q42: What is the best age to begin practicing Taiji exercises?

A: You can practice Taiji exercises at any age. In general, as long as you can walk freely and manage to move your arm and legs, the safe and gentle Taiji exercises for health are fine to practice. The youngest child who demonstrated Chen Style Taiji movements on the stage at the International Taiji Festival held in China 1999 was only three-and-a-half years old and one of the oldest students who is still alive and practicing Chen Style Taiji in the UK is 108-years old.

Q43: Do you need to use the punch bag and practice weight lifting as complementary training for Taiji exercise?

A: It is not necessary, but weight training can be complementary. The Taiji training system can do it all. Taiji usually touches the opponent first by sticking to the body of the opponent then taking control, before energy release. So, in most of the strikes you are actually already touching the opponent, before releasing energy from a short distance. That type of energy release does not require you to train your knuckles on a hard surface or repeatedly hit your fist or palm on punch bags. Taiji energy is always penetrating into the opponent's body and inflicts not just superficial damage. The highest level is when the opponent's surface is unblemished, but everything inside the body is damaged. You touch the opponent first, then release energy with an one inch punch strike (like Bruce Lee's famous one-inch punch). This type of energy release is very powerful but also very protective of your hand, muscle, tendons and joints.

Some hard training practitioners may eventually use weight training and the punch bags. It has obvious benefits, but is not necessary in Chen Style Taiji.

Most high level Taiji masters have very soft hands. Taiji training ensures that your hands will not suffer from arthritis, stiff fingers and poor finger sensitivity, which is very likely through hard conditioning training. So, I acknowledge hard training, but do not encourage it. In the past, people trained for survival, even if it meant damaging your limbs in the long run! In modern times, this training is rarely necessary.

Q44: The living room space is limited, how can you practice Taiji regularly at home for the convenience?

A: The amount of space needed for Taiji practice is very small. Basically, you need a space where you can walk two steps forward and three steps across. That space should be big enough to practice Taiji. The movements in the form can be altered accordingly to the available space you have, particularly for the Eleven Short Forms created by myself.

Q45: Why is there so much emphasis placed on form practices in Taijiquan and why are they so long?

A: When Taijiquan was created, it was not only just for health but also as a self-defence skill. The form gives you a unique series of individual movements for martial arts and self-defence training. All movements in the Forms have their own meaning and applications. It is a full collection of useful and practical martial arts movements that have been linked smoothly and logically under the principle of Taiji philosophy. This offers a daily training programme of comprehensive exercises. It includes stances, hand form, footwork, body exercise and spiritual training. Yin-Yang
principles and internal spiraling energy have been used in all of these exercises. People need to practice repeatedly as much as possible to improve their movements and get to know the hidden meaning of the movements. The form is the physical blueprint the masters passed down. So, the next generation would not lose what was learnt. It is a lifelong journey of practice to enable you to reach the highest levels of Taijiquan.

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