Add as bookmark

The Health Benefits of T'ai Chi

by Sheila Dickinson(more info)

listed in chi energy martial arts, originally published in issue 114 - August 2005

The Healing Energies of T'ai Chi

In T'ai Chi we use our own body's internal energy Chi and the earth's external energy Li. These energies are absolutely free. So why not use them to help yourself to a better quality of life and health!


The Lee family T'ai Chi Arts were created around 1,000 BC by Ho-Hsieh Lee. From that date until the early 1930s they were taught only to members of the Lee family. In the 1930s the Arts were brought out of China by Chan Kam Lee who was the last in line of the Lee family. Having no children of his own Chan Kam Lee eventually taught the Arts to a Chinese boy called Chee Soo who was being brought up in a Doctor Barnado's home in London. I trained with Chee Soo until the day he died on the 29th August 1994. I have only ever studied one style of T'ai Chi, the Lee style and have always felt that if I studied any other style it would dilute the essence of the Arts, which have been handed down for over three thousand years.

Ho-Hsieh Lee developed a style of T'ai Chi based on the principles of Chinese medicine; within the Lee family Arts there is also the martial art side, called The Art of Feng Shou (Kung Fu) and The Art of Chi Su, (the throwing art). However, it should be noted that without the health and inner harmony of the T'ai Chi, the rest is irrelevant.

Why Practise T'ai Chi?

In my experience, the majority of people who come into a T'ai Chi class need something fixing. The ailments range from emotional to physical and the beauty of T'ai Chi is that it is able to help everyone, provided they are prepared to put the effort into practising the movements that they learn.

'Practice!' It is at this point when people say, "I don't have time to practise". I would like to ask you a question, how many of you have been to visit your Doctor this year? In the last five years? Ten years? Fifteen years? Twenty years? I personally have not visited my Doctor for over twenty years, nor have I bought a single pain killer.

I practise the movements of T'ai Chi every day and feel that the results speak for themselves.

When asked by students how long they should practise, I explain that if they put the kettle on to make a hot drink, they should just practise the movements while the kettle boils. They will be improving the quality of their health. Obviously the more time you are able to give to your practice the greater the results.

Chi Energy

Your own body's internal energy Chi, plays a vital role in the quality of your health. Chi energy is with you from the day you were born until the day you die. A person with a highly developed Chi energy experiences very few illnesses. That is what we are all working towards.

One of the first stages of developing your Chi energy is to learn how to completely relax your mind, body and spirit. This is where the movements of the T'ai Chi Form come into play.

Initially you will be too busy thinking about the mechanics of the movements.

Eventually, with practice, the movements will become second nature to you and the mind will start to relax; this is because the movements work the energy channels inside your body to allow your Chi energy to move. Physically, the movements keep all of the joints mobile, without strain, and the specialized breathing patterns, which we teach, help to expel toxins from the body.

If the word relaxation conjures up pictures of flopping into an armchair, it is important to remember that this is one of the worst things you can do, as it encourages both your mind and body to become lazy.

If you feel really tired, practise one of the many breathing exercises. The exercise will only take a few minutes to practice and could well give you the lift you need.

Chang Ming T'ai Chi Long Life Diet

The following is an excerpt from my book Chang Ming T'ai Chi Long Life Diet and Recipe Book.

'The essence of the diet is to omit (or at least reduce) the intake of certain staple foods (potatoes, aubergines, tomatoes and peppers) of which the first three are known to belong to the Deadly Night shade Group of plants. A percentage of the population are not affected by these toxins. Another percentage of the population have an immune system and / or a Chi energy system that can lock off the poisons and store them in the fat layers and tissues. This means that they become an accumulative poison which ultimately becomes active when the Chi energy system / and or the immune system fails by being overloaded, and is therefore unable to keep the poisons locked off. This results in the individual contracting the horrendous and possibly incurable twentieth century diseases. The remaining percentage of the population are adversely affected by the poisons and therefore, always feeling under par or ill and cannot understand why.'

Li Energy

Li energy is very important as it supports the planets and the universe. This energy is everywhere and is passing through us even as you read this article.

Li energy comes down from the heavens passing through all things yang (male). It then enters the earth, turning one hundred and eighty degrees and passes up through all things yin (female) on its return journey to the heavens. This is the energy, which it is said, allowed the ancient sages of China to live to one hundred and fifty or two hundred years of age.

In T'ai Chi, we teach you how to harness Li energy and blend it with your own internal Chi energy. Practising our T'ai Chi Dance is one way of harnessing Li energy.

An advanced stage of energy development is healing; however, with healing comes responsibility. Although your mind may be eager to help others, if your energies have not developed to the required level, you will drain both yourself and the other person.

K'ai Men Exercises

If you are truly interested in healing then you should also practise K'ai Men exercises (Taoist Yoga); these are taught within all of our classes.

K'ai Men means 'open door', this is the doorway between mind, body and spirit. K'ai Men exercises are made up of two parts, a sequence where we harmonize our breathing techniques with our movements, followed by an extension where we concentrate on the movement and breathe normally. Everyone is encouraged to progress at their own pace when practising our exercises. There should be no strain whatsoever, and we never hold a position. We have a wide range of K'ai Men exercises covering both the internal and external parts of the body. We are able to offer our students a specialized exercise to help relieve a vast variety of illnesses.

Case Study Diana Ward – Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Diane developed irritable bowel syndrome in 1995; for Diane it was the beginning of daily stomach pain. Her symptoms included bloating, constipation and diarrhoea. Western treatment followed the normal route of test and medication, the treatment was not satisfactory and her symptoms continued.

Diane decided to look to alternative medicine and had a course of acupuncture treatment. Although the treatment helped initially, the symptoms returned.

Diane lives in Edinburgh. In 1998 after three years of almost continuous discomfort, her husband John read an article I had written in a magazine.

John telephoned me and they decided to make the 550 mile round trip to Kingston-Upon-Hull, to attend one of my weekend workshops.

This is what happened:

I taught Diane the first few movements of the T'ai Chi Form (this would start to activate her own Chi energy).

I also taught Diane the following K'ai Men exercise illustrated above.

I also explained to Diane that we were not interested in putting a plaster over the problem, we wanted to eliminate the source. To do this she needed to change her diet. Diane agreed to make the alterations to her diet, and practise the K'ai Men Exercise and the movements of the T'ai Chi Form on a daily basis, and to come back and see me in one month's time.

By the next workshop, the symptoms had disappeared. That was seven years ago and I am pleased to say that they have not returned. Diane is a regular visitor to Hull and has trained to be a LFA Instructor so that she too may pass on the many health benefits to others.

John's Story (His wife found a cure, John found a new career)

John was a highly successful car salesman, he made lots of money; the downside was that he had to work six days a week, working late most evenings; he hardly ever saw Diane. John loves helping people; however, we live in a world where you have to juggle earning a living with the lifestyle you desire.

Over the past twenty years I have developed a teaching formula for T'ai Chi that not only teaches Trainee Instructors their subject, it also teaches them how to take the mystery away so that it is easy for everyone to learn. I trained John in the Art of T'ai Chi as well as my success formula for successful classes.

John tells everybody that he has the best job in the world: he has tremendous job satisfaction, works seventeen hours a week and earns a good living, teaching LFA T'ai Chi. In John's own words "Life does not get much better than this."

Learning T'ai Chi

Obviously the ideal situation is to attend a weekly class. If an Instructor or style of T'ai Chi is reputable then they should have proven testimonials, it is results that count! If you are unable to attend a class, it is possible to learn from a book; however, it is important to make sure that each movement is fully described with a photograph.

Learning from a video shows you the transition from one movement to the next.


  1. No Article Comments available

Post Your Comments:

About Sheila Dickinson

Sheila Dickinson has been studying and teaching the Lee Family Arts style of T'ai Chi for over twenty years. She is the President and Master Instructor of the LFA. The LFA Health Arts have over one hundred classes nationally. Sheila teaches regular monthly workshops in Edinburgh, Reading and Yorkshire, as well as an annual five day summer school in Kingston-Upon-Hull. The LFA have a National Trainee Instructor Programme. Sheila currently has eight T'ai Chi books in print and five T'ai Chi videos. She can be contacted on Tel: 01482 898092, or or

top of the page