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Should we practice Tai Chi Fajin outdoors during winter?

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In the Tai Chi (Taiji) practice, there is a special maneuver called “Fajin,” which is a phonetic translation of a Chinese term meaning unleashing the internal power. Advanced practitioners can display explosive power by punching and kicking at a rapid speed. It is exciting to watch. Many practitioners are fascinated by it and training extensively on it. Nevertheless, Master Jesse Tsao cautions people against practicing it during the winter season and especially practicing it outdoors.

Born and trained in China, Master Jesse Tsao started his Chinese martial arts training at age 7 and has been practicing Tai Chi for over 40 years, including 10 years of intensive study with Grandmaster Li Deyin in Beijing, China. He was a gold medalist in the Beijing Collegiate Wushu Competition in 1980. He is a 12th generation direct-line Inheritor of Chen style Tai Chi under Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei. Last year he earned his Ph. D. in Chinese Martial Arts from Shanghai University of Sport. He is known as a Tai Chi master, Qigong therapist, alternative medicine and wellness consultant, and the founder of Tai Chi Healthways. Aside from teaching in the U.S., he has toured internationally since 2005 in Germany, France, England, Ireland, Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Russia, Greece, and other countries. He is specialized in areas of self-healing, preventive therapies, stress management, and mind-body wellness.

Part of his dissertation for the Ph.D. degree was “A Four Season Tai Chi Wellness Program based on the Yellow Emperor’s Healing Philosophy.” Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Internal Medicine was authored and compiled two thousand years ago. This masterpiece serves as the theoretical basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It also covers other subjects of philosophy, sociology, anthropology, military strategy, mathematics, astronomy, meteorology, and ecology. The book demonstrates that in ancient times, people accomplished scientific achievements in medicine that are still applicable, relevant, and innovative even in modern times. Master Tsao states that Yellow Emperor’s healing philosophy is focusing on prevention. General Chen Wangting (1600-1680) adopted the essence of Yellow Emperor’s philosophy when he created Tai Chi Quan.

According to Jesse, Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Internal Medicine recommends people follow the season and modify their activities accordingly. Human beings do not hibernate like some animals do; but people should not exhaust their Yang energy by engaging physical activity too rigorously during the winter season. People should keep body warm but not sweat. He recommends practicing Tai Chi softly and slowly. It is better to do a form twice as long as it normally takes. In other words, if it normally takes you five minutes to do Tai Chi 24 Form, you should try to do it in 10 minutes. He also suggests doing Tai Chi forms at a higher stance and avoiding low stance movements. Tai Chi practice in winter should focus on Nei Qi (internal energy) cultivation.

To be nurtured by nature, it is advisable to practice Tai Chi outdoors. Master Tsao advised to dress warm and not to expose skin much. In general, the body is not as flexible in winter. To avoid spraining joints or straining muscle, outdoor Fajin training should be avoided.

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