One of the more interesting physical education classes that a student can take at the University of Puget Sound is PE 147: Tai Chi for Health.
Tai Chi for Health is taught by Bryan Smith, a professor who retired last year from teaching mathematics and computer science classes. This semester, Smith solely teaches Tai Chi.
The class meets once a week on Tuesday from 3:30 p.m. to 5:10 p.m. It counts as .25 of a credit, so it is a great opportunity for students to take a class that promotes physical exercise without being too demanding on the schedule.
Tai Chi is a form of Chinese martial art that was made popular in the early 20th century. It is known as an alternate form of exercise that promotes a healthy lifestyle. Meditation of the mind is more difficult to achieve during the exercise if the individual is physically unhealthy.
Participants of Tai Chi must focus their mind solely on the slow movements of their body. By doing so the individuals bring about a state of calm and clarity. Additionally, It has been reported that Tai Chi is good therapy for anger-management issues.
“I don’t have a favorite technique, I more enjoy the fluid energy I feel as whole body flows as one through the different steps,” senior Frank Schimdt, a member of Smith’s Tai Chi class, said.
Tai Chi is rooted in ancient Chinese religion and philosophy such as Taoism and Confucianism. It is believed that in self-defense, reacting to an attack with strength means that the attacker and defender will be injured to an extent. T’ai chi ch’uan theory (Tai Chi) believes that these injuries are a natural consequence of meeting brute force with brute force.
Slow movements, which is the core of Tai Chi technique, is considered the appropriate response to strength. The core defensive goals of Tai Chi are to redirect the force of the attacker away from the defender until the attacker is exhausted.
The defender is meant to be the opposite of the attacker. This idea is a direct belief in the relationship of yin and yang; opposites are meant to be in constant contrast with each other to create a harmonized system.
T’ai chi ch’uan teachings strive for harmonization of yin and yang in combat and more broadly in life. Even though there is a large emphasis on slow movements in Tai Chi, there are different forms that teach fast techniques.
Despite its origin as a means for self-defense, people with no interest in martial arts have adapted Tai Chi as exercise. Professor Smith is an example of a person that has practiced the ancient Chinese techniques as a means to improve all aspects of his life.
Each class starts with a warm-up period. This period is much different from a typical warm-up in sporting practices. In a traditional sport, an athlete stretches the muscle to help prepare themselves for practice. In Tai Chi, the participants are preparing their mind more so then their body.
There are medicinal benefits of Tai Chi, but those techniques are only taught to the more advanced students. Many students in the class enjoy it very much and are seriously considering continuing Tai Chi as a hobby outside of school.
If students are looking for a non-strenuous form of exercise that takes up minimal time and promotes a healthy life style, PE 147: Tai Chi for Health is a perfect class to take.