Tag: Martial Arts

Five Styles of Tai Chi

The incredible health benefits of Tai Chi have caused a growth in the number of practitioners around the world. What many newcomers don’t realize at first is that there are actually many styles of Tai Chi to choose from. While most people choose their style based on availability, taking the time to learn about what style of Tai Chi matches you both physically and personally can help you start your Tai Chi practice off on the right foot.

While all Tai Chi styles come with the fantastic benefits that Tai Chi offers, such as improved balance and flexibility, each style comes with its own unique challenges and rewards. Some styles require greater physical endurance while others are more suited for those with joint problems to contend with. When you’re looking at the descriptions of Tai Chi styles, you’ll notice that they are usually defined by their speed and “frame.” If a style has a “large frame” it means that the style generally consists of lower stances and broad, sweeping motions. If a style has a “small frame” the stance is higher and movements aren’t quite as expansive.

The Yang Style – For the Beginner

This is the most popular style of Tai Chi. It’s made up of large, sweeping movements done at a slow pace. Over time, a lot of variations of this style have popped up but remained under the umbrella of Yang Tai Chi, so keep that in mind if you’re trying classes at different locations. This style is fantastic for beginners who are looking for that healthy boost that only Tai Chi can bring. Since this style is so popular, it’s usually pretty easy to find a class.

The Wu Style – For the Perfectionist

Based on the Yang style, Wu Style Tai Chi is the second most popular style. Yang and Wu Style Tai Chi practitioners make up around 80 % of the total Tai Chi practitioners around the world. Wu Style is easier on the joints since it’s made up of small, compact movements. This style focuses on the technical side of Tai Chi movements. The founders dissected the larger Yang Style movements into smaller and clearer movements. Wu Style focuses on extreme detail in the direction, intent, breathing and other requirements in the practice. This style is perfect for the perfectionist as it requires such precision in its movements.

The Sun Style – For those with Joint Problems

The most prominent feature of the Sun Style is in the way your feet move when practicing. Basically, where one foot goes, the other follows. The creates a style where the knees are only ever bent slightly and so less stress is put on the joints. The small frame and slow movements also make this a great option for those with joint problems. If you’re over 50 and thinking about taking up Tai Chi, this is a fantastic choice.

The Chen Style – For the Restless

This style focuses more on the self-defense purpose of the original style of Tai Chi. This is the most challenging form of Tai Chi and isn’t recommended for anyone with joint problems or who isn’t already at least somewhat physically fit. Since this style combines the slow movements with short, fast and powerful movements, jumps and stomps it’s perfect for the young, fit practitioner who doesn’t want to train with the slow movements of the other styles. It will, most likely, be difficult to find teachers as this style makes up only about 1% of the entire population of Tai Chi practitioners.
Hao Style – For the Inwardly Focused

This style is rare in China and practically nonexistent in the west. It is made up of small, slow movements. However, the focus is turned more inward at the movement of Chi as opposed to the physical movement of the body. You really need background knowledge of Tai Chi to appreciate this advanced style.

While there are many styles of Tai Chi that combine some or all of these styles, these are the five officially recognized as the five major styles of Tai Chi.

  • Yang & Wu are usually the easiest to learn, while Chen is the most difficult
  • If you’re looking to stretch out your body, go for the styles with larger movements. Styles with smaller movements will yield the same result, but it will take more time.
  • If you’re looking to develop leg strength check out the styles with larger movements. These tend to have lower stances.
  • Smaller styles tend to work better internally
  • Slow motion, short form are also better for people over 50

No matter what style you’re drawn to or have the option to learn, you’ll love the fantastic health benefits that come with regular Tai Chi practice. With its increasing popularity chances are there’s a class near you, so check it out and enjoy!


Finding Balance As A Military Spouse

If you’re a military spouse, you already know how challenging life can be.  And if you’re a mother, your primary focus is usually your children’s well-being:  are they doing well in school, are they participating in the right activities… are they getting enough social interaction? The check list for your children is endless, however, have you stopped to check in on yourself?

How are you doing? Are you feeling frazzled, frenetic or just plain frustrated? Much has been made about making sure women have fun time away from home, a girl’s night out for example, and those are entertaining and have their purpose… but how about  time to look inward? How are you doing mentally, emotionally and spiritually?  There are activities you can participate in that will help keep you calm, grounded and balanced.


Have you tried taking a Yoga class? Most people assume yoga is about wearing skin-tight pants, stretching and saying namaste to your pals. It is not. Yoga is actually an ancient practice with roots in ancient Egypt and India.  It was a daily practice participated in by everyone from parents and children, to royalty and everyday citizens. Yoga was and still is a life philosophy, not just another trendy exercise class to take like Pilates or Zumba (though those are fun ways to stay fit).

In some cases, Yoga can be a complementary therapy for a diverse list of health concerns. If you find Yoga classes that offer the discipline in its true spirit, one that helps the student reach spiritual and meditative goals, not just physical fitness goals, you will receive both emotional, mental and spiritual benefits.

Are There Yoga Classes In Jacksonville?

If you’re living a fast-paced lifestyle with all of your energies focused outward, taking a few weekly yoga classes will help you to stay calm, inner-focused and positive, something from which your husband, your children and yourself can all benefit.  Let’s face it, as the mother and wife of the family, many times you are what grounds the family unit, you are the center – and if you’re off-kilter, so is the entire household. You owe it to yourself and your family that you love so much, to make sure that you are living a balanced life.


Meditation is another way to assist in your goals to be a calm, positive beacon of light for your family. The word meditation brings to mind both silly and serious images, however, meditation is a serious tool that the military, corporate America and schools are now using to achieve goals, whether it be overcoming PTSD, de-stressing overworked executives or improving hyperactive children’s abilities focus and study.  Meditation is a practice you can also use to better yourself.

Meditation Makes You Happier and Smarter

So what, exactly is meditation? Meditation is the practice of turning your attention to a single point of reference. It can involve focusing on the breath, on bodily sensations, or on a word or phrase known as a mantra. In other words, meditation means turning your attention away from distracting thoughts and focusing on the present moment. Meditating is deceptively simple, and is a means to erase all of the negative images and thoughts your mind is programmed with on a daily basis.

7 Ways Meditation Can Change The Brain

There are many different ways to learn how to meditate. You can read books on the subject, you can watch YouTube videos or you can purchase audiobooks or  subscriptions to mindful-themed websites like Head Space and Oprah and Deepak’s Master Meditation Trilogy .  Learning how to meditate,however should not be cost-prohibitive.

Meditation can be as easy as sitting in a dark, quiet room, closing your eyes and counting your breaths.  However, if your mind will not stop racing and you can’t quiet your thoughts, you can also try listening to a brainwave entrainment track.  Just sit in a quiet, dark space, plug in your headphones and listen.

Make sure to focus on deep breathing, try to blank out your mind and think of nothing. That sounds super-easy, thinking of nothing but when you actually try it, if you’re not in the practice of doing so, forcing yourself to think about nothing can be challenging.  And yet, this is what the human mind needs daily for optimal efficiency.

Mediation on Camp Lejeune

When your eyes are closed and a thought floats into your awareness, simply acknowledge the thought and allow it to float away like a cloud.  Do not get upset, this is your place of happiness and positivity.

Tai Chi

Lastly, there is Tai Chi and Qigong.  As a parent, you’ve probably enrolled your child into dance class or recreational sports.  Have you considered doing the same for yourself?  Unless you are already familiar with the martial arts, taking a new class as an adult can seem daunting.  However,  taking Tai Chi or Qijong, which are both ancient Chinese martial arts with therapeutic value could be advantageous.  Tai Chi is often referred to as moving meditation. While there is a martial art studio in the area teaching Tai Chi, there is no place currently to take Qijong. Fortunately, you can find many great videos on YouTube to help you out.

The benefits of Tai Chi are similar to those associated with low-impact, weight-bearing, aerobic exercise:

  • Improves physical condition, muscle strength, coordination and flexibility
  • Improves balance and decrease the risk of falls, especially in elderly people
  • Eases pain and stiffness in joints
  • Improves sleep
  • Improves overall wellness

Medical studies has proven that Tai Chi has positive effects on:

  • Bone loss in postmenopausal women
  • Cancer survivors
  • Depression in elderly patients
  • Fibromyalgia symptoms, such as muscle pain, fatigue and insomnia
  • Osteoarthritis of the knee
  • Patients with chronic heart failure
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.

More Health Benefits of Tai Chi

In addition to the mind, body and soul benefits, this martial art is a great way for those new to exercising, new moms easing back into exercise or those recovering from injury to get fit.

It’s about time you focused on your well-being. Whether you practice yoga, meditation, Tai Chi or all three, make the balance of your mind, body and soul a priority. We don’t often think about how we can benefit from breathing exercises and just stilling our mind, but the benefits can be dramatic. You will be better for it and your husband and children will appreciate it.

Tai Chi in Jacksonville, NC

Martial Arts have been popular in the US for a very long time.  But did you know, beside the benefits of cardio exercise and learning self-defense and discipline, there are forms of martial arts that are great for reducing stress? One of the best martial arts for your mind, body and soul is Tai Chi.

Whether you already practice yoga and or meditation, or are new to taking care of your mind along with your body, Tai Chi is the next discipline you should try. Originally developed for self-defense, Tai Chi has evolved into a graceful form of exercise that’s now used for stress reduction and a variety of other health conditions. Often described as meditation in motion, Tai Chi promotes serenity through gentle, flowing movements.

What is Tai Chi

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that, today, is practiced as a thoughtful form of exercise. It involves a series of movements performed in a slow, focused manner and accompanied by deep breathing.


Tai Chi, also called Tai Chi Chuan, is a noncompetitive, self-paced system of gentle physical exercise and stretching. Each posture flows into the next without pause, ensuring that your body is in constant motion.

Tai Chi has many different styles. Each style may have its own subtle emphasis on various Tai Chi principles and methods. There are also variations within each style. Some may focus on health maintenance, while others focus on the martial arts aspect of Tai Chi.

Tai Chi Can Also Be Used For Fighting

Tai Chi is low impact and puts minimal stress on muscles and joints, making it generally safe for all ages and fitness levels. In fact, because Tai Chi is low impact, it may be especially suitable if you’re an older adult who otherwise may not exercise.

You may also find Tai Chi appealing because it’s inexpensive, requires no special equipment and can be done indoors or out, either alone or in a group.

Although Tai Chi is generally safe, women who are pregnant or people with joint problems, back pain, fractures, severe osteoporosis or a hernia should consult their health care provider before trying Tai Chi. Modification or avoidance of certain postures may be recommended.

 The Health Benefits of Tai Chi

When learned correctly and performed regularly, Tai Chi can be a positive part of an overall approach to improving your health.

The benefits of Tai Chi include:

  • Decreased stress and anxiety
  • Increased aerobic capacity
  • Increased energy and stamina
  • Increased flexibility, balance and agility
  • Increased muscle strength and definition

Some evidence indicates that Tai Chi also may help:

  • Enhance quality of sleep
  • Enhance the immune system
  • Lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure
  • Improve joint pain
  • Improve symptoms of congestive heart failure
  • Improve overall well-being in older adults
  • Reduce risk of falls in older adults

The only place to find Tai Chi classes between Wilmington and Emerald Isle is United Martial Arts, located at 125-A Henderson Dr. Jacksonville, NC 28540.

Now, if we can just find a good Qigong spot…