You have to love a system like Tai Chi that incorporates whimsical names for its movements: White Crane Spreads Wings, Swallow Skims the Water, Grasp Sparrow's Tail, or White Snake Sticks Out its Tongue, to name a few. Just thinking about them makes me smile.
Tai Chi is a traditional Chinese martial art using slow body movements and controlled breathing to improve balance, flexibility, muscle tone, core strength and overall health. For me, it’s a moving meditation.
At home, I listen to Tai Chi music when practicing. There’s always a great sense of well-being and calmness afterwards. I feel my balance is restored.
No uniform is required (just loose comfortable clothes), but here are some things I wear when attending class.
Source: Dub Scroggin
This is my cotton Tai Chi uniform. Practitioners really don’t wear the silk outfits you see in videos or on TV, not practical. In fact, a lot of times folks in Beijing just wear whatever they’ve worn to work to do Tai Chi in a nearby park during their lunch breaks—even a shirt and tie. I like my uniform because it’s comfortable and allows me to move without feeling constricted.
Sometimes I wear my dragon pants with a t-shirt. They are simply embroidered cotton pajama bottoms found on clearance at T.J. Maxx about six years ago. People often stop me and ask where they can get some for their martial arts classes, especially guys. It cracks me up to tell them they’re pajamas.
Although I prefer going barefoot at home or doing Tai Chi on the beach during vacations, I wear cotton Tai Chi slippers in class. I’m not comfortable going barefoot in a public facility where who-knows-what might be on the floor. You need shoes with smooth soles that won’t stick to the floor.
This video shows the Yang Tai Chi (also known as Taiji) I’m currently learning. You probably saw it being performed in the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.
Dr. Paul Lam designed the form shown in this video especially for people like me who have severe arthritis and fibromyalgia. I took this class through The Arthritis Foundation.
Source: Photo by Dub Scroggin
Off I go to Grasp Sparrow's Tail.