HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - These days it seems everyone's searching for a way to a healthier and less stressful life. Some find it sweating it out on a long run, pumping iron at the gym or surfing big waves...but lately, many are boasting the little known health benefits of a form of ancient Chinese marital arts.
Tai Chi looks as if you're watching a kung fu movie in slow motion. It requires plenty of focus, concentration, steadiness & balance. Today, it's not used so much for self defense as it is for its surprising health benefits.
"Before I got into Tai Chi, I was 180 pounds and I am now 165," said Gary Alpez.
"I went from very little movement and a lot of atrophy in my shoulder to a lot of strength coming back," said David Blythe.
"They tell me I look younger," said 84 year old Tai Chi student Yoshi Kishinami.
"Tai Chi is an internal martial art. It's a way to connect to your whole mind body and spirit in regards to allowing your chi to flow to release any kind of blockages that you may have," said Tai Chi instructor Gerri Nishida.
Across the nation, Tai Chi has been shown to reduce stress, improve balance and sharpen one's focus. It's widely used in rehabilitation hospitals to help patients get back on their feet.
In Hawaii, one man claims Tai Chi saved his life.
While out hiking, Albert Lowe slipped and fell more than 200 feet down a Waianae mountain. Rescuers airlifted him to a hospital and he survived miraculously with just a couple of broken bones and bruises. How was he so lucky?
Lowe explains it's because instead of tensing up, he kept his entire body relaxed during the fall.
"That has something to do that I've been practicing Tai Chi for a long time. So even when I'm unconscious my body is totally relaxed, yeah?" said Albert Lowe.
It's hard to believe such slow movements can make a big difference...but students swear by it.
"A lot of illness starts with stress mental stress so by doing Tai Chi, the very slow motion can help you calm your mind and center...and rejuvenate Chi which will also improve your immune system," said Tai Chi instructor Janet Jin.
Of course Tai Chi isn't beneficial for everyone but those who practice it say it goes to show you don't have to do high impact exercises to achieve high results.