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Tai Chi. By Our September Student Pharmacist, Barry Shen.

What is Tai Chi

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese martial art style focusing on the health of the mind and body. It is composed of a series of slow dance movements that integrate musculoskeletal, breathing, and meditation training.  While originally made for self-defense, research has shown various health benefits for those with conditions such as hypertension, neuromuscular injuries, anxiety, depression, and much more who practice it as a form of physical activity. There are many different forms of Tai Chi.

History of Tai Chi

The origin of Tai Chi can be traced back 300 to 700 years ago in China and was originally developed as a form of self-defense. It was believed to have come from the village of Chengiagou in Wenxian County, Henan province, during the late Ming Dynasty to early Qing Dynasty.

The first known practitioner of Tai Chi recorded in history is Chen Wangting. Being considered the original practitioner of the art, one of the five forms was named after him, the Chen Style.

Over time, Tai Chi evolved into five separate styles: Chen, Yang, Wu-Hao, Wu, and Sun.

The Five Styles of Tai Chi

Chen– The oldest known style as well as the origin of all other forms developed in the late 1500s. Chen is characterized primarily by alternating slow and fast movements. While there are health benefits, this form is considered the most combat applicable with high physical demands.

Yang– This style is the second oldest form and the most commonly practiced in the world. Most schools of Tai Chi will often teach this form to anyone interested in its health benefits.

Wu Hao– The most rarely practiced form even in China. It is distinguished by smaller movements with an emphasis on balance, sensitivity, and chi development.

Wu– The second most popular form practiced in the world. Its training focuses on grappling, hooks, and throws. Beginners interested in the combat applications of Tai Chi will learn this form from instructors.

Sun– The youngest of the five forms of Tai Chi, it is known for its smooth movements and being the least physically demanding. It is favored among the elderly and it is also influenced by various other Chinese martial arts.

Benefits of Tai Chi

Some benefits of Tai Chi include:

  • improved mood
  • aerobic capacity
  • stamina
  • flexibility
  • balance
  • strength

There are also increasing studies on Tai Chi’s effects on high blood pressure which is a major public health issue as well as a risk indicator for future cardiovascular disease. One of the best methods of controlling high blood pressure is increased physical activity. Tai Chi can be beneficial for blood pressure lowering especially for those who are unable to perform other more vigorous physical activities such as running due to injury or age.

A study done in 2013 followed 40 elderly patients with blood pressures over 140/80 the course of 12 weeks. The Tai Chi group was shown to have a significant decrease in blood pressure compared to the group who was told to not exercise which demonstrates Tai Chi’s blood pressure lowering capabilities.

Another larger study following 246 elderly patients compared blood pressure lowering capabilities of Tai Chi to brisk walking. The results showed that Tai Chi was able to significantly lower blood pressure (13.33) more than the brisk walking group (3.37).

What do I need to know before starting

Because of its minimal strain on muscles, the movements of Tai Chi are relatively safe for most patients of all ages. All patients should check with their doctor before starting Tai Chi if they have arthritis, back pain, severe osteoporosis, broken bones, lung conditions, or are pregnant.

Tai Chi in Columbus and the surrounding area:

Taoist Tai Chi Society

Jerome United Methodist Church

10531 Jerome Road

Plain City, OH 43064



Master Mollica’s Kung Fu & Tai Chi

10 Oakland Park Avenue

Columbus, OH 43214



Chen Taiji of Ohio

240 W Oakland Avenue

Columbus, OH 43201



Tai Chi Dublin

4929 Donegal Cliffs Drive

Dublin, OH 43017




Chan, A. W. K., Chair, S. Y., Lee, D. T. F., Leung, D. Y. P., Sit, J. W. H., Cheng, H. Y., & Taylor-Piliae, R. E. (2018). Tai Chi exercise is more effective than brisk walking in reducing cardiovascular disease risk factors among adults with hypertension: A randomised controlled trial. International Journal of Nursing Studies88, 44–52. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2018.08.009

Pan, x., zhang, y., & tao, s. (2014). effects of tai chi exercise on blood pressure and plasma levels of nitric oxide, carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulfide in real-world patients with essential hypertension. clinical and experimental hypertension, 37(1), 8-14. doi:10.3109/10641963.2014.881838

Szymanski, Jarek. “The Origins and Development of Taijiquan (tr. from “Chen Family Taijiquan – Ancient and Present” published by CPPCC (the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference) Culture and History Committee of Wen County, 1992)”. Retrieved 16 June 2011.

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