Monday, July 17, 2000

Ancient techniques, contemporary stresses

By John Eckberg
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Tai chi is a ritualistic pattern of movements popular for centuries throughout China and Asia.

        Kung fu is a self-defense martial art that generally emphasizes swirling blows rather than straight jabs and kicks.

        Both bring practitioners an outlet to reduce work-related stresses and sharpen business skills, teachers say.

        In some regions of China, hundreds of people gather in ranks and rows to practice tai chi in public parks. Both martial art and physical exercise, it links deep breathing with what appears to be choreographed knee bends and a rhythmic motion of the arms and hands.

        The discipline brings a feeling of harmony to the mind and body, proponents say, and daily practice will improve energy, coordination, balance and circulation.

        Supporters also claim it reduces stress and improves general health for those who regularly practice the movements.

        “Martial arts teach patience, tenacity and many of the drills require teamwork,” said Eldon Clem, owner of the Cincinnati Academy of Martial Arts, which meets in the gymnasium at Hebrew Union College.

        “And I think students learn to set aside short-term goals for long-term goals.”


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