Tai Chi gains popularity among Iranian women

Energy from the East. How an ancient Chinese martial art is finding its way into Iran's public spaces..

Video Transcript

ASSED BAIG: A well-known Chinese martial art. The past few years has seen it grow in popularity in Iran, especially among women.

RONAK BARZEGARI: [SPEAKING FARSI]

INTERPRETER: It's a way to release energy that's trapped in the body. The sport requires a lot of patience. Usually, women have more harmony. And from the perspective of physical ability, I think they deal better with the sport.

ASSED BAIG: It's not common to see this kind of performance in public spaces in Iran. In a country where women practicing sports is usually held behind closed doors, tai chi seems to be the exception. It's also not segregated like other sporting activities. This couple met at a tai chi festival.

MUHAMMAD HARATI: [SPEAKING FARSI]

INTERPRETER: We practice together outdoors at home whenever there's an opportunity. The sport doesn't require a lot of space.

FARIBA SARRAFIN: [SPEAKING FARSI]

INTERPRETER: The impact of tai chi, I can tell you, it has reduced the periods of anger, and maybe our arguments end within a few minutes.

ASSED BAIG: Iran has a national team and an annual championship.

MITRA NOURI: [SPEAKING FARSI]

INTERPRETER: I can tell you some 70% of people who engage in this activity in Iran are women. Many people like it and practice it in many parts of the country.

ASSED BAIG: In this competition, those taking part were aged between 8 and 63. Some have competed internationally.

MOTAHHAREH KASHIZADEH: [SPEAKING FARSI]

INTERPRETER: This is the third year I'm attending the national championship. Last year, I got a gold and two silvers, and I received an invitation to the national team.

ASSED BAIG: But it's in public places like this that the sport is getting most attention, inspiring others to join in while some simply appreciate the art form. Assed Baig, Al Jazeera, Tehran.