New breed of fans take up daily tai chi practice
Young and old people in Jinan benefitting from learning ancient Chinese martial art
JINAN - The age difference between members of group of tai chi practitioners in East China's Shandong province is as much as 80 years, proving that the ancient martial art's appeal is timeless. The oldest member is 91 years old and the youngest only 7.
From 6:30 am to 7 am every morning, about 30 people gather in a small square of the provincial sports center in Jinan, capital of the province, to practice the art form.
"Tai chi is a terrific exercise, helping me keep fit as I have stuck with it for about 65 years," said Hao Mingzhi, a 91-year-old tai chi lover.
Primary school students practice tai chi during their class break at school in Hebei province. Cheng Xuehu / For China Daily
Deeply rooted in Chinese meditation, medicine and martial arts, tai chi combines mental concentration with slow and controlled movements. It can help participants focus their minds, challenge their bodies and increase energy levels.
"In the movements of tai chi, we can see Chinese philosophies such as courtesy, modesty and patience, as well as balancing hardness and softness," Hao said.
In 2006, tai chi was listed as one of China's first batch of intangible cultural heritages thanks to its rich cultural connotations and long history.
Since then, local authorities in Shandong have promoted the activity among the elderly. By the end of last year, more than 1 million people in the province regularly took part in the exercise.
"Tai chi can benefit people's minds and bodies. It is well received, especially among the elderly. Rich or poor, weak or strong, everybody can learn it," said Cao Xuecheng, chairman of the Shandong Veteran's Sports Association.
Tai chi has gradually become a mass activity in recent years as the country promotes traditional Chinese sports and activities to achieve fitness for all.
Earlier this month, the State Council, China's cabinet, issued a new guideline to implement the country's Healthy China initiative and promote people's health. The initiative put forward the development of fitness programs with Chinese characteristics, including those of traditional sports such as tai chi and qigong, a traditional Chinese martial art aimed at exploiting the human body's inner energy to achieve physical and mental harmony.
During China's 13th National Games in 2017, thousands of grassroots athletes took part in 19 sports categories.
Though participating in the activity for only several months, Zheng Zhujun, a 10-year-old tai chi lover, can already perform the standard movements. "Tai chi can help build my character, making me more patient," Zheng said.
In the past, most tai chi practitioners were the elderly, but now, more young people are learning the sport, according to Hao Lei, a 57-year-old tai chi promoter.
"I hope more people will learn and practice it to pass down the beneficial traditional Chinese martial art," Hao said.
(China Daily 08/08/2019 page17)