William C.C. Chen Tai Chi Chuan
William C. C. Chen Tai Chi Chuan

Medical Studies 

"My objective is to make Tai Chi Chuan easy, simple, natural, enjoyable and productive."        William C. C. Chen

Recommended Reading
Ask Well: Tai Chi and Heart Disease
Tai Chi Chuan and Blood Pressure
Two Studies by the National Institute on Aging
From Harvard Medical School
From Tuft's Health and Nutrition Letter
From University at California, Berkeley's Wellness Letter
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise
Tai Chi for Balance Study
Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan

Recommended Reading

by William C. C. Chen
Published by William C. C. Chen
2 Washington Sq. Village - 10J
New York, New York 10012

First Edition - 1973

4th -  1989
5th -  1992
6th -  1994
7th -  1997
8th -  1999
9th - 

by Robert W. Smith 
ISBN  1-55643-085-X 

QIGONG - The Art and Science of Chinese Energy Healing
by Kenneth S. Cohen
Published by Ballantine Books N.Y.C. 10022

Ask Well: Tai Chi and Heart Disease


ASK WELL- New York Times

Q: Does tai chi help reduce the risk of heart disease?

A: Like other forms of physical activity, tai chi may be an effective method for helping to reduce the risk of heart disease. The mind-body practice, characterized by gentle movement and deep breathing, offers a nontraditional form of exercise that may appeal particularly to elderly or frail individuals and those who “get bored at the gym,” said Alona D. Angosta, who wrote a review of the research on tai chi.  Although the number of tai chi trials is limited, several have shown that tai chi can reduce certain cardiovascular risk factors, including reducing levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides, increasing levels of “good” HDL cholesterol and slowing heart rate.  There is also quite a bit of evidence to suggest the practice can improve blood pressure. Harvard doctors who conducted asystematic review of the medical literature in 2008 found that 22 of 26 studies reported reductions in blood pressure among participants who practiced tai chi.  One 1996 trial that randomly assigned 126 heart attack survivors to either a tai chi, an aerobic exercise or a non-exercise support group for eight weeks found improvements in both diastolic and systolic blood pressure (the top and bottom numbers) only in the tai chi group. Participants were also more likely to stick with the tai chi program over time.  Researchers say that more studies would be helpful. Many of the trials that have been done are small, prescribe different regimens and different types of tai chi, and follow people for varying amounts of time. Those limitations make it hard to draw firm conclusions about the effects.

Official article at this link: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/01/13/ask-well-tai-chi-and-heart-disease/?emc=eta1&_r=0

Tai Chi Chuan and Blood Pressure

(Reuters) - T'ai chi - a slow, relaxed form of exercise with origins in ancient China - lowered people's blood pressure almost as well as moderate intensity aerobic exercise, according to a study presented recently at a meeting sponsored by the American Heart Association. "You better believe we were surprised by those results," one of the researchers, Dr. Deborah R.Young from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD said in a statement. "We were expecting to see significant changes in the aerobic exercise group and minimal changes in the T'ai chi group

The scientists studied 62 sedentary adults, aged 60 years and older, assigning half to a program of brisk walking and low-impact aerobics and the other half to learning T'ai chi. After 12 weeks, systolic blood pressure (the first number in a blood pressure reading) had fallen significantly in both groups, an average of 8.4 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) in the aerobic exercise group and 7 mm Hg in the T'ai chi group. "It could be that in elderly, sedentary people, just getting up and doing some slow movement could be associated with beneficial reductions in high blood pressure," Young theorizes.

High blood pressure is a risk factor for stroke and heart attack. Young cautions that the results of her research need to be confirmed by studying a larger group of people. "Until we know more, I encourage people to go out and do brisk walking on a regular basis," she said. "We know it's associated with an attitude of health benefits."

Two Studies by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) initiative, launched in 1990
The two studies were the first involving Tai Chi to be reported by scientists in a special frailty reduction program sponsored by NIA Public Information Office.

In the first study, Steven L. Wolf, Ph.D., and colleagues at the Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Ga., found that older people taking part in a 15-week Tai Chi program reduced their risk of falling by 47.5 percent.

A second study, by Leslie Wolfson, M.D., and colleagues at the University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, found that several interventions to improve balance and strength among older people were effective. These improvements, particularly in strength, were preserved over a 6-month period while participants did Tai Chi exercises.
Webpage:   http://www.nih.gov/nia/new/press/taichi.htm

From Harvard Medical School
Volume 21 Number 11 - September 1996 Issue

The following is an excerpt from the article "Injury Prevention" of this issue citing a study by the American Geriatric Society on Tai Chi:

"...Another promising way to prevent falls is exercise to improve balance, flexibility, muscle strength, and reaction time.

A study in the May 1996 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society showed that Tai Chi -- an ancient Chinese martial art that employs slow, precise movements -- helped improve balance and strength among seniors. Those who underwent Tai Chi training for 15 weeks reduced their risk of falling by 47.5% compared with those who didn't take classes.

Another major benefit was decreased fear of falling -- a worry that often prevents older people from being as active as they'd like..."

Additional article from Harvard Health Publications:  https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Womens_Health_Watch/2009/May/The-health-benefits-of-tai-chi?print=1

From University of California, Berkeley   
Wellness Letter  The Newsletter of Nutrition, Fitness & Stress Management
Volume 15, Issue 2     November 1998  From the School of Public Health

Tai Chi:  smooth, balanced, low-impact

Though it originated as a self-defense technique, tai chi chuan (or simply tai chi, pronounced tie-jee) has been practiced in China for centuries as an art form, religious ritual, relaxation technique, and exercise for people of all ages, even those in their eighties and nineties.  Tai chi chuan literally means "grand ultimate fist," but most people today do not practice it as a martial art.  Across America and Canada thousands of people perform the slow, balanced, low-impact movements of tai chi, generally as a means of improving flexibility and balance, strengthening muscles, and reducing stress.

Tai Chi involves dozens of dance like postures, performed in sequences known as "forms" or "sets," derived from animal postures (such as the snake, dragon, or tiger).   At first glance it resembles karate in slow motion or swimming in air.  In fact, it is based on the concept of withstanding aggression without force---yielding to a blow and using an attacker's momentum against him.  It calls for concentration, controlled breathing, balanced shifting of body weight, and muscle relaxation---thus it is often called "moving meditation."  Though tai chi movements are slow, they can provide a fairly intense workout.

Under Western eyes:  the latest research   

Here are some of the potential health benefits of tai chi: 

Flexibility: The choreographed exercises gently take your joints through their full range of motion.   Studies show that the controlled movements can be helpful for people with arthritis (but they should check with their doctors before starting any exercise program).

Physical therapy:  Some research has found that tai chi can be a form of physical therapy and aid in the recovery of injuries.

Balance:  The smooth, slow movements help instill physical confidence and may enhance balance and coordination. 

Strengthening:  Tai chi helps tone muscles in the lower body, especially the thighs, buttocks and calves.

Posture:  Your head, neck, and spine are usually aligned, thus relieving strain on the neck and lower back.

Relaxation:  Tai Chi can have some of the same psychological benefits of yoga.  The concentration on the body's fluid motion and on breathing helps many people relax, and can relieve tension and anxiety.

Lower blood pressure:   Though studies have had conflicting results, a recent study presented at the American Heart Association meeting found that 12 weeks of tai chi resulted in a small but significant drop in blood pressure in older people.

Tai chi requires no special clothing or equipment and can be done even in a small space.   The best way to learn tai chi is in a class from an experienced instructor who can guide you through the positions.  Tai chi classes are often available at the Y, health clubs, colleges, and adult education programs.  Check the Yellow Pages under "martial arts instruction."  Books and videos may also be helpful, though these seldom can take the place of a n instructor.  It takes year to become adept at tai chi, but within a few weeks you can learn several movements or positions.

Second thoughts.  A few researchers claim that tai chi can provide a cardiovascular workout as good as jogging.  But any such benefit is likely to be minimal.  Do some aerobic exercise along with your tai chi.                                                               

Volume 17, Issue 10     December 1999, Volume 17, Number 10 
FITNESS FORUM A No-Sweat Exercise with Multiple Benefits

Imagine participation in a fitness study turning out so enjoyable that the subjects decide to get together o their to get together on their own to continue the activity once the research itself comes to an end.   That's what happened at the conclusion of a 15-week Tai Chi study conducted at Emory University in Atlanta several years ago.  Dozens of men and women in their 70's and older so enjoyed learning Tai Chi graceful movements that improve balance that they kept meeting by themselves.

The Emory University researchers were happy, too.  They found that those people who learned to perform Tai Chi were almost 50 percent less likely to suffer falls within a given time frame than subjects who simply received feedback from a computer screen on how much they swayed as they stood.   That's no small thing.  Each year, almost one in three people over 65 takes a fall.  And fall survivors suffer great declines in activities of daily living than non-fallers and are also at greater risk of institutionalization.

But Tai Chi does more than help prevent falls.  Research suggests that it also improves heart and lung function; reduces the body's levels of cortisol (a stress hormone"; and improves confidence.  Now a new study, conducted at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, indicates that it can also lower systolic blood pressure, the first number in a blood pressure reading.

People between the ages of 60 and 80 with moderately high blood pressure were instructed to engage either in low impact aerobic dance or Tai Chi Several times a week.  The Tai Chi Group, it turned out, lowered their systolic blood pressure by an average of 7 points---just a point less than the aerobics group.

And they did it without even working up a sweat, even though they were medically obese and lived sedentary lives.  Tai Chi barely raises the heart rate.

Just What Is Tai Chi? 
Practiced by the Chinese for centuries, Tai Chi is a series of slow movements, or forms, that flow one into the other.  As you progress through the gentle, graceful forms---which have names like "White Crane Spreads Its Wings" and "Step Up to Seven Stars"---you end up almost standing on one leg.  (Older learners often start by holding onto a chair while moving in their environment." explains Steven Wolf, PHD, en Emory University researcher and physical therapist.  That's extremely important.  As we age, the brain's ability to process multiple tasks simultaneously diminishes.  For example, it becomes harder to walk down a hallway with someone, engage in conversation, and step over a loose cord all at once.  But Tai Chi raises awareness of how the body moves and thereby helps people focus on their relationship to their physical environment in everyday situations.

How to Learn Tai Chi
Your local "Y," health club, or senior citizens center probably offers a Tai Chi class.  Dr. Wolf says there are tow things you should do before signing on.  First, find out whether the instructor has had experience doing Tai Chi with older people.  There are rigorous forms that are not appropriate for folks who are not confident about their balance.  Second, get a physician's approval.  While Tai Chi is not physically demanding, it can be somewhat postural demanding.  A primary care physician should know whether a patient is taking medications that could interfere with balance or has a condition that might make a series of Tai Chi movements unadvisable.

Health Benefits, Tai Chi Linked

New research from Tufts finds the ancient practice of tai chi may actually help improve health.

Boston [04-28-04] The two thousand year old practice of tai chi � a combination of martial arts movements and deep breathing � has been used for generations in China to release energy and negative feelings. But an effort by Tufts to review the body of research on tai chi finds that the ancient practice may also be linked with a variety of other health benefits � from flexibility to cardiovascular health.

Using 47 studies on tai chi in English and Chinese medical journals, Tufts� Dr. Chenchen Wang � a physician at Tufts-New England Medical Center � analyzed the effect of the practice on healthy people as well as those with assorted health conditions.

�Overall, these studies reported that long-term tai chi had favorable effects on the promotion of balance control, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness and reduced the risk of falls in the elderly,� said Wang, an assistant professor of medicine at Tufts. �Benefit was also found for balance, strength and flexibility in older subjects; and pain, stress and anxiety in healthy subjects.�

Wang and colleagues concluded that tai chi is generally a safe exercise, and one that may be most beneficial for older adults, including those who suffer from arthritis, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis and other conditions.

�The sickly elderly who participated in the program also showed improved balance, strength, and flexibility and fewer falls,� reported the Jerusalem Post.

While the study � funded in part by the National Institutes of Health � provided insight into links between tai chi and improved health, it left some unanswered questions, including which mechanisms were responsible for tai chi�s apparent health benefits.

�Despite its popularity, the biological mechanisms and clinical effects of tai chi are not well understood,� Wang and colleagues wrote. �The long-term effects of tai chi practice are still unknown, and there is insufficient information to recommend tai chi to patients with chronic conditions.�

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise

Effect of 4- and 8-wk Intensive Tai Chi Training on Balance Control in the Elderly.
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 36(4):648-657, April 2004.

Purpose: The objective of this study was to examine whether 4 and/or 8 wk of intensive Tai Chi practice could improve balance control in the healthy elderly subjects.
Methods: Forty-nine community-dwelling elderly subjects (aged 69.1 +/- SD 5.8 yr) voluntarily participated in an intervention program of either supervised Tai Chi or general education for 1.5 h, 6x wk-1 for 8 wk. Two balance tests were administered using computerized dynamic posturography before, at 4 and 8 wk during training, and at 4 wk after training ended: 1) the sensory organization test measured subjects' abilities to use somatosensory, visual, and vestibular information to control their body sway during stance under six sensory conditions; and 2) the limits of stability test measured subjects' abilities to voluntarily weight shift to eight spatial positions within their base of support. These outcome measures were compared between the two intervention groups, and with those of experienced Tai Chi practitioners having means of 7.2 and 10.1 yr of practice from two previous studies.
Results: Statistical analysis demonstrated that, after 4 and 8 wk of intensive Tai Chi training, the elderly subjects achieved significantly better 1) vestibular ratio in the sensory organization test (P = 0.006) and 2) directional control of their leaning trajectory in the limits of stability test (P = 0.018), when compared with those of the control group. These improvements were maintained even at follow-up 4 wk afterward. Furthermore, the improved balance performance from week 4 on was comparable to that of experienced Tai Chi practitioners.
Conclusions: The above findings indicated that even 4 wk of intensive Tai Chi training are sufficient to improve balance control in the elderly subjects.
(C)2004The American College of Sports Medicine

Effects of Tai Chi on Joint Proprioception and Stability Limits in Elderly Subjects.
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 35(12):1962-1971, December 2003.

Purpose: The objectives of this study were to examine whether elderly Tai Chi practitioners have developed better knee joint proprioception and standing balance control than control subjects.
Methods: Tai Chi and control subjects (N = 21 each, aged 69.4 +/- SD 5.5 and 72.3 +/- 6.1 yr, respectively) were matched with respect to age, sex, and physical activity level. Passive knee joint repositioning was used to test joint proprioceptive acuity. Control of body sway during static standing and subjects' intentional weight shifting to eight different spatial limits of stability within their base of support were conducted using force platform measurements.
Result: Tai Chi practitioners were found to have better knee joint proprioceptive acuity, in that they made less absolute angle error (2.1 +/- 1.2[degrees]) than control subjects (4.0 +/- 3.4[degrees], with P = 0.023) in passive knee joint repositioning. No significant difference was found in the anteroposterior and mediolateral body sway during static standing (P > 0.05). However, Tai Chi practitioners initiated voluntary weight shifting in the limits of stability test more quickly (reaction time: 0.8 +/- 0.2 s for Tai Chi practitioners) than control subjects (1.1 +/- 0.3 s; P = 0.008). Moreover, they could lean further without losing stability (maximum excursion: 5.2 +/- 0.6% for Tai Chi practitioners and 4.6 +/- 0.5% for control subjects; P = 0.001) and showed better control of their leaning trajectory (directional control: 75.9 +/- 10.0% for Tai Chi practitioners and 68.5 +/- 6.9% for control subjects; P = 0.008).
Conclusions: These results demonstrate that long-term Tai Chi practitioners had improved knee joint proprioception and expanded their limits of stability during weight shifting in stance.
(C)2003The American College of Sports Medicine

The Effect of Tai Chi Chuan on the Autonomic Nervous Modulation in Older Persons.
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 35(12):1972-1976, December 2003.

Purpose: This study evaluated the effect of Tai Chi Chuan (TCC) on the autonomic nervous modulation in older persons.
Methods: Twenty TCC practitioners and 20 normal controls were included in this study. The stationary state spectral heart rate variability (HRV) measures between TCC practitioners and normal controls, and the sequential changes in HRV measures after classical Yang's TCC were compared.
Results: The total power, very low-frequency power, low-frequency power, normalized low-frequency power, and low-/high-frequency power ratios in TCC practitioners were all significantly higher than those of normal controls, whereas the heart rate and systolic and diastolic blood pressures were not different between these two groups of subjects. After TCC, the normalized high-frequency power increased significantly from 22.8 +/- 14.6 normalized units (nu) before TCC to 28.2 +/- 16.1 nu 30 min after TCC and to 30.6 +/- 18.4 nu 60 min after TCC. In contrast, the low-/high-frequency power ratio decreased significantly from 2.5 +/- 2.4 before TCC to 1.8 +/- 1.4 30 min after TCC and to 2.2 +/- 2.9 60 min after TCC. The heart rate, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, mean arterial blood pressure, and pulse pressure also decreased sequentially after TCC.
Conclusion: The short-term effect of TCC was to enhance the vagal modulation and tilt the sympathovagal balance toward deceased sympathetic modulation in older persons. TCC might be good health-promoting calisthenics for older persons.

(C)2003The American College of Sports Medicine

Tai Chi for Balance Study

Timothy C. Hain, MD, Last revised: 4/2002

STUDY: N.I.H. Office of Alternative Medicine (OAM). "Tai Chi for Balance Disorders." 1993-1994, Reference # 1R21RR09535-01. Site, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. Sponsoring Institution: Northwestern University, Chicago Illinois, USA. Principal Investigator: T. C. Hain, MD. Other investigators: J. Kotsias, Lynne Fuller (PT), L. Weil (PT)

Our aim was to determine if eight weeks of daily practice of an alternative health care exercise, T'ai Chi, can significantly improve balance of persons with mild balance disorders. We studied 22 persons with stable and mild balance disorders, with numbers distributed equally between 3 age groups : 20-44, 46-60, and 61 and beyond. We evaluated efficacy of T'ai Chi through comparison of functional tests of balance (Romberg, Duncan Reach Test, Moving Platform Posturography) and self-reports of balance and falls (Medical Outcomes Study (MOS) questionnaire, Dizziness Handicap Inventory (DHI) questionnaire), obtained prior to and following the T'ai Chi course.

The Tai Chi movements that we used were selected from several different schools of T'ai Chi and included the following sequence: Hold the Ball (Wu style), Turning the Wheel (Yang style, as illustrated to the right), Brush Knee and Twist Step (Yang style), Step Back to Repulse Monkey (Yang style), Walking the Circle (Pa-Kua style), Kick heel to left and right (Wu style), Partition of the Wild Horse's Mane (Wu style), Hold the Ball.


Highly significant improvements were noted in posturography (average score improved from 59.5 to 64.3) and the MOS and DHI tests. An insignificant improvement was found in the Romberg test (although there was a strong trend). There was no effect on the Duncan reach test scores. Improvements were found in all age groups.


Eight weeks of T'ai Chi was associated with significant improvement in balance.

MORE INFORMATION:  http://www.tchain.com/taichi/default.htm

Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan

The Yang Style Tai chi chuan Form is unlike other forms.  It is a series of slow, continuous and even flowing movements that can be practiced by people of all ages. 

Imagine how happy you would feel if each new day brought you plenty of energy for all of life�s duties and responsibilities.

Do you have sufficient energy to accomplish all you want to accomplish?

If you could become the creative person you always wanted to be?

Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan can help you experience the changes you seek.  Daily Tai Chi practice can transform a ready supply of energy.  Our bodies are made up of food and water, a delicate balance of the five elements.  Regular practice can become powerful and practical mechanism to increase your inner reserves of energy.

We can show you how a 15 to 30 minutes of low impact exercise daily can mean an improvement in joint mobility and muscle flexibility; and improvement in the circulation of lymphatic and venous fluids; better assimilation of nutrients and the elimination of toxins; a reduction of stress; and a better overall flow of energy through the entire body.

Tai Chi for stress reduction, better focus and concentration, increased flexibility, improved strength, enhanced immune system, balance, improved memory, improved circulation and coordination.

Movement & breathing may help the following conditions.  Always check with your health care professional: Arthritis, Allergies, Osteoporosis, Hypertension, Anxiety, Fatigue, Depression, Back Pain, Post Surgery Recovery, Muscle Tension and Spasm, Poor Circulation, Stroke Recovery, Asthma, Stress Reduction 

Yang Short Form - 60 Movements
The Short Form in particular is easy to learn; with proper instruction and practice, it's a recognized form of therapy, an effective alternative to regular calisthenics and stress management.  It requires very little space and no special attire.  Due to the ever growing popularity and demand for the Yang Short Form, we therefore have had ongoing classes here in Chelsea since 1965. 

Over 300 Locations
Classes on this form are offered at more than 300 locations across the U.S. and other parts of the world.   Teachers Worldwide  list.

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Last updated by FJP on:  Saturday July 18, 2009