Feature: Chinese Tai Chi tour seeks global reach, and its first stop is America

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After he met a Chinese Tai Chi instructor in Ohio, Jones developed some understanding about how Tai Chi helps "qi" (air) circulation, muscle movement, and nerve connections.

"Sometime I do surgery like dissection of very fine motor skills, and you have to relax your body, so you can do very coordinated, fine movements. Tai Chi helps a lot," Hartman said.

Jones recalled that he got hurt in a car accident in the early 1950s and damaged the nerve and muscle that caused his eye to droop down.

"I have trained the Chen-style Tai Chi for 10 years, but this is the first time that the masters performed before my eyes," he said.

"Actually my balance got better, my strength got better, my ability to understand the breath got better as a result," he said.

Hartman has practiced Tai Chi for more than 20 years.

Hartman's experience was echoed by the story of another Tai Chi practitioner, Ronald Jones, a consultant who works for FedEx Corporation, a multinational courier delivery services firm.

Around 50 Tai Chi lovers from the Bay Area will attend the training. San Francisco is the tour's first stop before it heads to Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

by Xinhua writer Ye Zaiqi

"Tai Chi is a national treasure of China that has a profound and long history, and practicing benefits both physical and mental health," Chen said at the opening ceremony of the U.S. tour of the China Tai Chi Culture World Tour, which aims to promote Chinese culture and Tai Chi outside China.

"Chinese Tai Chi martial art is good for everyone and the Chinese people have enjoyed it, but we want to bring this art to the world," Hartman, a biologist at Stanford University.

"When you train Tai Chi Kung Fu, you develop a deeper understanding of yourself," he further explained.

"It created a problem with my balance and my equilibrium," he said.

"Practicing Tai Chi boosts family harmony, enhances body health and increases lifespans," Chen said.

The Tai Chi grandmaster pointed out that nearly 50 million people are practicing Tai Chi across the globe.

"After I started practicing Tai Chi, I was able to get rid of one of the blood pressure medications. I'm only taking one pill for the diabetes," Jones said.

Jones's case is not unusual among Tai Chi practitioners.

The Chinese delegation, which officially kicked off earlier Friday a 12-day Tai Chi Culture World Tour in the Bay Area, consists of five Chinese Tai Chi masters who will personally illustrate to Tai Chi fans the secrets of Kung Fu.

He called himself a loyal disciple of Chinese Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei, who is currently leading a Chinese Tai Chi team on a U.S. tour that aims to bring the discipline closer to the American people.

Peter Tram, an accountant in the Bay Area, said he has long practiced Tai Chi, but Friday's event gave him a valuable opportunity to learn in person from Chinese Tai Chi masters.

Hartman said Tai Chi is beneficial to physical and mental health. "Especially when you train Tai Chi, when you slow down, when you relax, when you become soft, you can calm your mind and your body," he said.

Jones then began to learn Tai Chi and other Kung Fu skills with his martial art teacher.

"[The] event is a great opportunity for the broad family of Tai Chi art to present a sample of what is the essence of Tai Chi Kung Fu to the people in America, which is something we're very proud of," Hartman said.

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- Byron Hartman wants to expand the reach of Tai Chi in America and beyond. He has just completed a near-perfect demonstration of his skills learned over the years from several martial arts masters.

Grandmaster Chen said Tai Chi is a component of Chinese cultural heritage that indeed improves people's health and wellness, both physically and mentally.