"I really enjoy your classes. Good tai chi instructors are relatively rare; there are many instructors that know and teach the basic movements but lack understanding of the inner structure and more subtle aspects of the art (of which you are adept). I may be a beginner at tai chi but I have at least been doing martial arts long enough to be able to have some sense of when someone does know what they are doing." Chris Z. ( physical therapist, acupuncturist, Kempo black belt)
IS TAI CHI?
Tai Chi is a traditional Chinese martial art attributed to the Daoist monk Chang San-feng (est. 1279 -1386). But unlike the "hard" martial arts like Karate or Tae Kwon Do, Tai Chi is a sequence of slow, relaxed movements designed to enhance a person's balance, coordination and flexibility. Tai Chi strengthens the natural connections between the body's muscular system, breath and circulation. Practiced for centuries, Tai Chi Chuan cultivates chi, the Daoist term for the inner energy that compels life. Millions of men and women all over the world (of all ages) practice Tai Chi daily as a form of gentle, meditative, stress-reducing exercise. Traditional Chinese belief says that chi or "life energy" is found within and around all living things. Tai Chi Chuan heals the body by guiding chi to all the organs through slow and repetitive movements.
At Four Seasons School Of Tai Chi Chuan we teach the 108-movement solo hand form of the Wu family; a form of Ne Gung (also known as Chi Kung) called Eight Pieces of Brocade; a two-man form known as Push Hands; and for advanced students, weapons forms such as double edge sword, saber, and spear. We begin each class with stretching exercises and Chi Kung meditation. Each class begins with an abbreviated version of Eight Pieces of Brocade for warm-up, followed by the teaching of three movements of the solo form. The form is divided into 3 sections. Each section is taught three movements at a time in round-robin fashion so that no matter when someone starts they can learn the complete section by continuing to come to class. All students are urged to follow through 3 rounds of classes for the section they are working on before moving on to the next section. Advancement is self paced and I do not promote rushing anything. Balance, posture and breathing, adding on and refining movements are emphasized. We also practice pushing-hands, and learn self-defense applications of the movements.
IS IT HARD TO LEARN?
Tai Chi is as easy to learn as a dance sequence and many people begin to experience health benefits almost immediately. Through daily practice the whole sequence of movements can be learned in about 6 months. After that, your goals will determine the time and effort needed in pursuing this art.
ISN'T TAI CHI ONLY FOR THE YOUNG AND ATHLETIC?
Not at all. Because Tai Chi emphasizes relaxation, balance and internal strength instead of athletic ability, age is no barrier to learning and practicing Tai Chi. In fact, some of the most respected Tai Chi masters are well into their seventies and beyond!
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF TAI CHI?
Among the benefits of Tai Chi that have been documented by medical doctors in China and the U.S. are: improved balance; lowering high blood pressure; improved breathing; strengthened internal organs, muscles and joints; improved symptoms of menopause; and better posture and fewer lower back problems. Tai Chi also improves concentration and focus.
WHAT DOES THE MEDICAL COMMUNITY SAY ABOUT TAI CHI?
Studies by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), launched in 1990:
Two studies, one by Steven L Wolf, PhD, and the other by Leslie Wolfson, MD, and collegues, found that Tai Chi was effective in improving balance and strength among older people. Older people taking part in a 15 week Tai Chi program reduced their risk of falling by 47.5%.
"The health benefits of tai chi" Harvard Health Publications - Harvard Medical School
Wolfson L, Whipple R, Derby C, Judge J, King M, Amerman P, Schmidt L . Smyers D. Balance and strength training in older adults: intervention gains and T'ai Chi maintenance. J Am Geriatric Soc. 1996;44:498-506. CIT. IDS: PMID: 8617896 UI: 96208899