I believe the tai chi chuan hand form is unique in the multifarious benefits that it offers to the practitioner. On the physical level, it strengthens the body by utilising every single muscle in our being. Through its constant twisting and spiralling movements our internal organs are being continually massaged and manipulated throughout its execution. On the mental level, we gain through memorising and retaining the very intricate choreographed martial sequence which makes up the form. The brain being an organ and like all organs it needs stimulation. The practice of the hand form assists in this stimulation. On the emotional level, the hand form I believe shows its worth. The hand form is a natural destresser. It helps to recentre us when we’re out of balance for whatever reason. If one is experiencing emotional turmoil, the practice of hand form can aid the recovery of one’s calm; bring things back into perspective in a positive manner. I find the solo practice of the hand form to be meditative, relaxing, insightful and a great aid to personal development and self-discovery. Having extolled some of the virtues of solo hand form practice, I think it is only right that the same be said regarding how hugely beneficial it can be to participate in large group practice. There is a very powerful energetic force being created when a large group of practitioners are moving in unison, totally synchronised, all of one mind in a single endeavour such as the tai chi hand form. An absolute synergy of mind and body. It is almost as though everyone is connected by an invisible celestial chain moving one way and then the other. Group practice allows us to see, make comparisons and corrections where necessary. This, too, I believe to be a much needed part of tai chi form practice giving a somewhat ethereal air to the performance.

Godfrey Dornelly