Interviews with Taiji Practitioners

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How did you make the transition to Chen Style Taiji

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Amir Rafi, 22, Chen Style Instructor, completing BSc (Hons) Exercise & Health Sciences at Salford University, based in Manchester
Q : Did you have a background in martial arts before taking up Chen Style?
I started in 1998 with traditional Shaolin Kung Fu and I dabbled a bit in Chang Quan (Chuan). I've done bits of Western boxing and mixed martial arts. But, basically I've got a lot of my foundation from the Shaolin Kung Fu.

Q : How did you make the transition to Chen Style Taiji?
Well one of my Shaolin teachers had practised Chen Style with Chen Zhenglei. But, he was more on the external side of things. So I found Liming and went to one of his classes in 2001. And I've stuck with him ever since.

Q : How do you find training with Master Liming?
He's opened up a lot of stuff, especially relating to the Shaolin forms as well as the martial applications. So it's not just the Chen Style.
Q : How do you personally define Chen Style?
I see it as a martial art. I understand it's been portrayed as a health exercise because it has many health benefits. For example, correct practice of it doesn't stress the body. Actually it heals the body, by correcting the alignment of the bones and improving your breathing. But, overall, I see it as an art form, a martial art form. Click here to read Chronic Rhinitis in TCM.

Q : Have you always had good health?
Generally, yeah. I've had my medial cartilage removed from my left knee. That was caused by a lot of jumping, landing, twisting and kicking. I don't feel it at all since I've done Taiji. Actually, I sort of used the Taiji as rehabilitation to get me back to my strenuous Shaolin training. But, I've stayed with the Taiji. And my leg's a lot better, a lot stronger.
Q : What everyday health benefits have you experienced with Chen Style?
I'm more aware of my body. It sounds strange because I've always been quite active, but still I'm more aware of bad things like slouching and good things like "sinking down." I'm just more sensitive about parts of my body, like relaxing my shoulders. A common cause of stress is tense shoulders causing headaches. I feel more energetic generally, just more fresh every day. If I lack sleep certain nights, I still feel quite energetic the next day. Click here to read Gastric Cancer (Carcinoma) in TCM.
Q : And can you pinpoint any longer term benefits?
The Qigong breathing massages your internal organs so it increases their function. So as you practise more, and as you grow older, your health stays more balanced rather than fluctuating.
Q : So how would you perso'nally sum up Chen Style?
Basically, Taiji is a philosophy which is based on certain principles. So, it doesn't really matter about the certain moves that you do. As long as the principles are correct, so that they can be applicable to martial arts and health.

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