Tai Chi Chuan is a traditional Chinese “internal martial art” that was developed centuries ago for both its self-defense training and its health benefits. Today it is primarily practiced for health and fitness. It combines slow and gentle movements with mental focus. In addition, it combines physical exercise and relaxation techniques rooted in ancient Chinese philosophy. It has been practiced in China for hundreds of years and is now widely practiced throughout the world. It has been estimated that over 100 million people regularly practice Tai Chi in China alone. It has become increasingly popular as a form of exercise in the United States over the past 10 years.
Tai Chi improves health by promoting changes in mental focus, breathing, coordination and relaxation. The goal of Tai Chi is to “rebalance” the body’s own healing capacity. During exercise, individuals are taught to be mindful of what their bodies are doing and how they feel. Precise movements and body awareness characterize Tai Chi as a “meditation in motion,” evoking a mind-body connection. It helps people bring their mind into a zone of calm and clarity. It has been used as part of traditional Chinese medicine for many years and has recently become the focus of scientific research regarding its health benefits.
Researchers have found that intensive Tai Chi practice favorably affects the promotion of physical function, including balance control, reduction in the fear of falling and fall occurrences. Tai Chi exercise may also be a beneficial and safe adjunctive therapy for some patients with cardiovascular disease by helping to reduce blood pressure; for postmenopausal women by maintaining bone mineral density; and, for patients with knee osteoarthritis by providing pain control. Also, studies have indicated that Tai Chi Chuan is associated with improvements in psychological well-being—including reduced stress, anxiety, depression and mood disturbance, and increased self-esteem.
Our Tai Chi Chuan class is largely based on the content and methods of the “Ru Yu Tai Chi” style of Tai Chi Chuan. This style is based on Cheng Man Ching’s style of 37 forms as adapted by Grand Tai Chi Master Chen Qu Kuan (C.K. Chen), in Taiwan. In this class you will learn the very classical and traditional Tai Chi Chuan with very original training methods. We have modified our Tai Chi course slightly in order to fit better with the learning culture of the United States. As in the Ru Yu Tai Chi School in Taiwan, there are different stages of classes. Students who successfully complete the first three stages will be invited to participate in a traditional “ Ru Men” (Enter the Door) ceremony. Elite training will follow for the qualified candidate. Below are the brief descriptions about the first three stages of classes. If you have more questions about our Tai Chi or our classes, please feel free to contact us.
In the basic Tai Chi Chuan Class, we will introduce you to what Tai Chi Chuan really is. We will also give you a better understanding of what you are going to gain from this practice. You will receive most of the basic training in order to complete the first section (or 13 forms) of the 37 Tai Chi forms in this style. These include balance control (walking training), body relaxation (wall training), body coordination (bear movement training), and mind calming (root training and finger lock training). You will also learn the basics of “Tai Chi Fa Jiang” (i.e., how to utilize the power from the ground) and the basics of “push hand practice” (i.e., how to apply Tai Chi). Most of the focus on these sessions will be on learning how to perform the Tai Chi Chuan Form. The primary goal of this stage is to enable you to have a more complete understanding of Tai Chi and to enable you to perform the whole first section (13 forms) by yourself.
In this stage of the Tai Chi Chuan class, we will continue to practice all of the basic training you learned in Stage 1. In addition we will coach you to perform all of the basic practices in a more polished way. You will also be introduced to the remainder of the 37 forms. The primary goal of this stage is to enable the sturdiness and soundness of your fundamental Tai Chi practice and to improve your mastery of the entire system of 37 forms. This will prepare your mind and body for the third stage the Tai Chi Chuan class.
In this stage of the Tai Chi Chuan Class, you will begin to learn how to integrate energy work (Qi) into the Tai Chi form practice you have learned in the first two stages. The primary goal of this stage is to bring your Tai Chi experience to a totally different level!! We do recommend you finish our Qi Gong meditation class before you start our Advance Tai Chi Chuan sessions. This will allow you to integrate your energy work into your Tai Chi form much more easily.
Qi (pronounced chē) can be interpreted many different ways depending on the context in which it is being used. It is incorporated in many aspects of Chinese Culture. For example, Qi as it is referred to in Chinese calligraphy, could be said to refer to the calligrapher’s intention, feelings, or insight at that moment which “the Qi” flowed from the artist into the characters to make them become “living”. This transfer of Qi then gives the characters themselves the ability to express emotion and touch the people who look at them at a different time or space.
In Feng Shui, Qi could mean the “atmosphere” created by the surrounding environment. This often includes the walls, the building, natural settings like rivers or mountains, roads, certain directions etc. For example, some rooms or natural settings (a lake for example) can make people feel peaceful once you walk into or near them.
In interpersonal relations, “QI” could mean the “feeling” created between or among people. In other words, it is how a person comes across, or presents themselves to others. For example, sometimes it is easy to feel the characteristics of the people around you. Are they coming across as healthy or diseased, honest or dishonest, humble or proud, and so on? “People” in this example can be replaced with other objects as well. A thousand year old tree, for instance, can bring about a sense of calm to people due to its age, or “experience”.
In traditional Chinese medicine, “Qi” refers to a “vital material” which has a deep influence on an individual’s energy, will, immune system, and mind and body health. For example, you are more susceptible to disease when you are exhausted, and when you are exhausted your “Qi” is weaker than usual. You might also become anxious easier when you under stress; this is due to the fact that stress causes instability in “Qi”.
There are ways to cultivate and improve “Qi flow” in your life. In sticking with the examples above, here are some ways to improve Qi.
Every person is born to this earth possessing their own Qi. There are differences in Qi however, from person to person. Some peoples’ Qi might be stronger; others’ Qi might be weaker; some peoples’ Qi might be able to circulate smoother than others. The bottom line however, is that everyone has their own Qi found within.
So what makes Qi different from person to person? There are many factors that might explain this, but for sake of argument we will break these factors down between two major categories: “pre-heaven” and “post-heaven”. The term “pre-heaven” is used to describe the factors in play before you were born. For example, your Qi at birth will be affected by your parent’s age or their health status at conception, the environment or lifestyle your mother was living in, the food she was eating during pregnancy, as well as the gene pool from which you were born. “Post-heaven”, on the other hand, refers to factors after birth. For example, the food you eat, the environment or lifestyle you live in, accidents and injuries that have occurred, any trauma that has occurred, as well as any positive steps you have undertaken like meditation or the practice of Qi Gong.
The term “Qi Gong” usually refers to a systematic practice done to help one cultivate and strengthen their Qi. This “practice” helps to improve the circulation of Qi inside your body. There are different types of Qi Gong practice, or to be more accurate, one might say there are different levels of practice. Qi Gong practices for cultivating and moving Qi are done through breathing techniques, meditation practice, the use of imagination, or a guiding technique via body posture and movement. Usually these systems and practices are created from the experience and the understanding of the Qi. Some methods might have existed for thousands of years already, while some methods might have come about or have been slightly modified within just the past one hundred years.
There are different stages of Qi Gong practices at Tai Chi Acupuncture & Wellness Center. The system of our Qi Gong practice is primarily based on Cheng Man Ching’s internal Tai Chi practice, but modified by C.K. Chen and Median Chen, based on their continuous quest for a deeper understanding of Dao philosophy and deeper experience of the Qi. At this moment, we offer basic Qi Gong Meditation Class at the Center. A brief class description is listed below:
The goal of our basic Qi Gong Meditation Class is to help you relax the pathways for the Qi circulation, to enable the clearing and settling down of your mind, and to start cultivating and strengthening your Qi. It is a very general class for anyone who is interested in Qi Gong. It is also designed to benefit people who have a weakened body constitution or immune system, for those suffering from a chronic illness, or people living with high stress. In addition to learning the basic Qi Gong practice, we will also share some oriental philosophy in each session to help you understand more about the Dao, which is important for your Qi Gong practice in the future.