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Tai chi, also known as tai chi chuan, is a popular kind of exercise, meditation, and stress relief. Originally derived from Chinese martial arts traditions, it is sometimes practiced more for its health benefits than as a form of self-defense. Many people interested in learning tai chi take classes from tai chi masters or certified instructors, often in a group class setting. The growing number of people who prefer to practice and learn ti chi at home have a wide range of DVDs available to choose from. Some issues to consider before selecting a tai chi DVD include determining the desired benefit, the individual’s level of physical fitness, and the person’s affinity for the style of tai chi chosen.
The first question to explore is which style of tai chi is best suited for the individual and their goals. People who are older, or who have balance or flexibility issues, may be more comfortable with Yang style tai chi. This style is characterized by large, slow movements and is often considered the most popular type. Wu style tai chi is also widely practiced and generally employs smaller, though still slow, movements. Both of these styles can serve as gentle exercise with the additional benefits of stress reduction and increased flexibility.
People with a higher level of physical fitness and who want a slightly faster paced tai chi practice, may decide the Chen style is right for them. This form of tai chi alternates between slow movements and faster, more athletic movements. People with knee problems may find this style puts too much strain on their joints. Finding a tai chi DVD that focuses on this variety may be more difficult, as Chen is often not taught as frequently as Yang or Wu.
Some other things to think about when selecting a tai chi DVD include the difficulty level and finding a program that will hold your interest over time. Beginners may find that focusing on basic tai chi stances and movements are the best place to start, while more advanced students may want a more challenging routine. It can also be helpful to select a recording that includes an assortment of routines with varying degrees of difficulty to help prevent tiring of the practice.
Choosing which instructor’s DVD to purchase is somewhat more subjective and depends entirely on personal preference. Reviewing consumer feedback and, when possible, previewing the tai chi DVD are some ways to determine if an instructor’s personality and teaching style will be compatible with the student. Recommendations from friends or family members who practice tai chi may also help the individual make the best choice possible.
There are no organized tai chi classes in my area, sot I bought a tai chi chuan video from a store. I have enjoyed practicing all of the tai chi exercises so far. I'd suggest that you find a series of tai chi dvds that will advance with you. I found I started to get a little bored with the "tai chi for beginners" DVD, but this particular series offered more advanced lessons with more complicated tai chi moves.
I'd also say that some DVDs do a better job with demonstrating each move. I found that the best tai chi DVDs showed the instructors from different points of view, not just head-on from a student's perspective. I like to see how the moves are going to look from where I'm standing, not just mirroring what the instructor is doing.
I got interested in learning tai chi a few years ago, so I bought a book that claimed to teach tai chi for beginners. I found out later that the techniques taught in the book were not classic tai chi exercises, but a very simplified modern version the author invented himself. It's still a good ten to fifteen minute warm-up exercise, but it's not strictly tai chi.
I would suggest looking at the cover information very carefully before investing in a tai chi video. Make sure the instructor teaches authentic tai chi moves if your intention is to learn tai chi. If you're just looking for a program that will help you move in a tai chi style, then the biggest concern might be finding something for beginners.
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