Recently an on-line person asked why the “T’ai Chi for Arthritis” form developed by Dr. Paul Lam is the best for arthritis.
The answer: It isn’t. All T’ai Chi is good for arthritis, but for a T’ai Chi style or program to be effective, the benefits must go beyond just the choreography and movements and into the proper principles and energies.
Paul Lam is a wonderful T’ai Chi practitioner, and one of the people with whom he studied, Professor Li DeYin, is also one of my own teachers. Dr. Lam used the short movement Sun (pronounced Soon) style T’ai Chi form developed by Sun LuTang as the foundation for the Arthritis form. At that time, there weren’t a lot of qualified T’ai Chi instructors outside of certain pockets of China, Hong Kong, Europe, and the United States, so Paul Lam created a certification program to train people to be instructors.
Over time, though, a great number of wonderful teachers have begun sharing their expertise world wide including some of the people with whom I have trained: Dr Jwing-ming Yang, Grandmaster Helen Wu, Grandmaster Liang Shou-Yu, Dr. Daniel Lee, Master Yang Yang, and Professor Li DeYin.
The difference between a T’ai Chi style or program that is good for ‘arthritis and one that is not boils down to the principles.
For T’ai Chi to be effective for health, it must embody the training of body, breath, and mind. And specifically for arthritis, the principles of proper body structure, rooting, and Song (“relaxation”). Without these principles, T’ai Chi is empty.
Or as in the words of the old slogan: “Hua Quan Xiu Tui,” which literally means “Flower Fist, Brocade Leg.” The saying refers to something that is beautiful but useless.
T’ai Chi that is only movement without principle might be beautiful, but it terms of health and healing, it is not effective.
Find a teacher and style that embodies the principles of body, breath, and mind, as well as the eight energies, and what you will achieve will be a complete sense of health and well-being, which is the heart of authentic T’ai Chi.