Many people in Australia come to martial arts because they want to get fit, they want to learn discipline, or they want to excel competitively. All of these are great reasons to get involved with an Australian dojo. However, there are also lots of other benefits that can come from regular practice.
One branch of martial arts, Tai Chi, is especially well known for its overarching effects on health and wellbeing. Tai Chi does not look like the most strenuous activity – it is something like shadow kung fu in slow motion – so sometimes people discount it as a martial art. However, regular practice most certainly increases flexibility, mobility, strength and cardiovascular fitness. One of the great things about Tai Chi is that due to the slower movements, almost anyone can practice it. This makes it a great entry-level martial art for those who are overweight, elderly, or have physical impairments.
Furthermore, Tai Chi instils a much greater awareness of the body and how it moves through space due to its postures. For centuries, Tai Chi has been a form of meditation, so along with enhancing your bodily health, it also offers great benefits for mental health. Tai Chi encourages an intense focus on the breath, movement, and the circulation of energy through the body. In doing this, it allows for a mindful practice that decreases stress, and has follow-on benefits for general focus in your daily life.
In China, Tai Chi has been used since the 16th century to keep fit, and even prevent or cure disease. Tai Chi Australia’s founder and Chief Instructor, Mr Han Jin Song, says that “today, it’s principally a tranquil, gentle and pleasurable means of attaining and maintaining health and harmony in mind and body, mobility, suppleness and mental alertness.” He commented that one of the main reasons Tai Chi is getting more popular as a type of martial arts in Australia is due to its therapeutic benefits.
Many dojos in Australia offer Tai Chi classes, so the best way to see the benefits is to give it a try yourself.