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5/27/2006

Tai Chi for health and defense

I have a facination with Tai Chi Quan. I have seen people practising this martial act since I was young. Altough I have interest in this martial arts, I have never thought of learning or even mastering this style. One question always popped up in my mind,"is this a practical defense system?" Honestly speaking, the person who is practising the strokes does this very slowly as compared to Shaolin kung fu. If one is attacked, can he really afford to fight back with such slow pace?

I am now in my late thirty. I have more than 10 years of working experience in my life in the office. The lifestyle in Singapore allows me little time to think about my health, not to mention going for exercise. It is until the time when my daughter was born that I started thinking about walking a longer journey.

I was also a volunteer coach for an organiztion to help them on a certain training programme, my aim was to master what I have learned from them. However It instead rang the alarm bell in me telling me that I am not that healthy any more and I need to change. I need to exercise!

Although I have never officially learnt any martial arts, I bought a book on Tai Chi sword play during my secondment in China and learned a few strokes from it. I intended to "officially" master the art.

It took me some time to look around for a credible Tai Chi master. I thought of the teachers from the community center, but I was wary bout the authencity of their mastery and I want to learn the real thing. As an engineer by training and practice, I must be able to apply what I have learnt. I continued to scout around on both the internet and the red light district in Geylang ( happened to also house many martial arts schools ) for a genuine master.

I came upon Nam Wah Pai on the internet by chance, I actually called up to enquire about Tai Chi sword play. The only response I have got was " come to see our demo this weekend". I responded to the call, attended the demonstration. By the end of the day I was convinced and signed up for the class.

The class from Nam Wah Pai was different from others. Normal practice of Tai Chi go straight ahead with the strokes, claiming that Qi and health will come along. Nam Wah Pai instead started off with Tai Chi Qigong, the master insisting that this is the bullet and the stroke is the gun. If you want to master Tai Chi, you must first learn to harnest the Qi. I was sceptical as I have never heard of this style of Qigong, neither was there documentation on the subject. I went ahead anyway since I have already paid for the course.

So is it really true? I still have not found any documentation on the subject now. The master insisted that the qigong was passed down through word of mouth. No matter which is true, my experience of the Qigong tells it all.

After just 2 months of practicing the qigong, my master tested us by hitting our abdomens with 2 broomsticks. The broom sticks broke into 2 while we were not injured at all. It is amazing considering just 2 months prior to that we would not sustain such a hit. At the same time I am also feeling more healthy as I have more energy to go through my everyday life. My blood pressure actually reduced, to the surprise of the doctors. One negative effect is that I have less chance of being sick, therefore I would be wasting a lot of my medical leaves.

The most amazing thing is that now I can even chop the bricks into 2, something that I can only dream of in the past. My level now is chopping of 2 bricks, this is just after less than 1 year of practice. It is not just using the palm, but every sides of the hand, such as the karete chop, the reverve chop the back of the hand and direct fist.

It also make a difference while I practice the Tai Chi Quan, I could feel the Chi moving in me almost immediately after I started learning the strokes, unlike my past experience.

In conclusion, does Tai Chi improves health? It really depends on its genuinity, at least the choice that I have made with Nam Wah Pai is a a good one. Does it really work in self defense? First thing first, don't let me have a chance to hit you back, or you will end up like the bricks that I have chopped up.

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