The words “relaxing” and “martial arts” may not be coherent when used in most contexts, but they are when talking about Tai Chi, a form of a Chinese martial art that uses slow, focused movements and deep breathing techniques.
Troy University students will now be able to get a taste of this popular Chinese exercise through introductory classes provided by the Confucius Institute.
The Confucius Institute will be teaching Tai Chi classes every week until April 30 where students will learn a total of 24 simplified Tai Chi movements.
According to Kaituo Yu, language coordinator at the Confucius Institute and one of the instructors for the class, “This (Tai Chi) is not about fighting or anything — this is about peaceful mind and healthy body.”
Yu said that the purpose behind this class is to introduce to the local people to one of the most important and best components of the Chinese culture. She further said that this exercise can be very beneficial to one’s physical and mental well-being. “When you feel really disturbed and annoyed, you just play this and forget everything,” she said.
Tingting Xiong, Chinese program coordinator and the second instructor of the class, explained that doing Tai Chi provides health benefits such as aid in the treatment of heart diseases, high blood pressure, arthritis and digestive disorders in addition to increasing flexibility and prolonging life.
Xiong also explained that in Chinese philosophy the concept of yin and yang, which are contrasting opposite forces within the body, is prevalent and Tai Chi is aimed to stabilize those opposing forces.
“If you want to become healthy, you have to strike a very good balance of yin and yang,” she said. “Also in our body, there is a kind of ‘Chi.’ It’s a kind of force that will help you to strike a balance between yin and yang.” Hence the name Tai Chi.
Last Thursday, the first beginners’ class was taught by Xiong and Yu, in which the first three basic movements were demonstrated.
“I didn’t realize that through exercise you can relax so much,” Nicole Wallace, a junior nursing major from Marianna, Florida, said. “It’s a very good exercise, just to take an hour or even 20 minutes out of your day and just completely relax.”
Ronald Dowdell Jr., a junior psychology major from Tuscaloosa, said that he wanted to attend the class without really knowing what he was getting into. Now that he knows, he plans on recommending it to more people.
“I Googled a video, a four-minute video, and I watched 35 seconds of it, and I was like ‘I’ll go,’ ” he said. “It felt good. It’s a really intense quad workout.”
Matthew Ramirez, a junior social work major from Seale, said that he learned more about the Chinese culture through this introductory class and said he is looking forward to building relationships with other students in the class from varying cultures.
“I definitely will recommend it not just to learn the steps, but be in the class with more diversity,” he said.
Kayli Pledger, a sophomore collaborative education major from Spanish Fort, said that she found Tai Chi soothing, but at the same time felt that she had a good workout.
“It wasn’t very strenuous like you’d expect martial arts to be,” she said. “It’s very calming, and at the same time it’s an opportunity to get some exercising in just an hour.
“I had a really bad day, stressed out, so I thought it was a good idea to go here, and it was.”
Yu encourages students to come and try Tai Chi, even if they have no particular idea about it, and enjoy some exercise by sweating a little.
“It will diversify their life and open their eyes, and widen their minds,” she said. “It’s never a bad thing to try something new.”
Tai Chi classes will be taught every Thursday from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. in Room 030 of Bibb Graves Hall.