What is Tai Chi?

Tai chi (Taiji, Tai Chi Chuan, Taijiquan)
is a form of internal martial art that has been practiced in China for centuries. It is based on the ancient foundation of qigong (“chee gung”) exercises designed to enhance health, and tranquility.  Tai chi and qigong  integrate mind, body and spirit through a series of gentle yet dynamic movement patterns. Tai chi, described as a moving qigong, combines martial art applications with meditation and principles of traditional Chinese medicine to focus attention and align, integrate and strengthen the body as a whole. Cultivating concentration, balance and agility tai chi is characterized by constant changes in direction and shape. Qigong exercises have been practiced for thousands of years to cultivate  health and healing. Based on the ancient Taoist philosophy of living in harmony with nature, tai chi and qigong can help you live in harmony within yourself and in relation to the world. The goal of the practice is to optimize the flow of qi (pronounced “chee”), or the life force or energy within and around you. Physically this is done by improving posture, breathing and coordination. Mentally it is facilitated by learning to quiet the mind, release tension and focus on the immediate moment. While the feeling of balance and harmony can be readily felt, even with simple forms and short sets, these practices can be refined over a lifetime. They are used as a resource for self care, to foster serenity and healing. As well, they are known to improve balance, agility and vitality. Medical studies have shown that regular practice can help maintain wellness in healthy individuals and improve quality of life for people managing chronic health conditions.

There are five major styles of tai chi: Chen, Yang, Wu, Hao and Sun, each
carrying the names of renowned grand masters who contributed unique interpretations of the tai chi tradition. Each style has different attributes that are valuable in their own way, yet each adheres to the fundamental principles that underlie all tai chi. With thousands of forms and variations to play with tai chi conveys a vast wealth of knowledge about functional fitness, mindfulness and wellness. If you enjoy the gentle, focused beauty of tai chi you will never finish learning and benefiting from your practice.

Qigong  is the art of nurturing and harmonizing body, mind and spirit, through the practice of movement and stillness.  “Qi” can be translated as “vital energy” or breath, and “gong” means to practice or work. There are many different qigong exercises—in fact, tai chi form is one type of qigong. The unifying principle of all qigong exercises is the focus on nurturing/refreshing/replenishing . When practiced correctly, qigong can lead to a heightened sense of calmness, awareness, vitality and joy.

Tai Chi for Health
 programs, are created by Dr. Paul Lam, to empower people to improve their health and wellbeing. A family physician and internationally acclaimed tai chi master, Dr. Lam is the founder and director of the Tai Chi for Health Institute, based in Sydney, Australia. Combining modern medical and traditional tai chi expertise, the institute has developed numerous programs now embraced by more than five million people worldwide. These tai chi programs are designed to assure a safe and accessible introduction for people of all ages and abilities. Student-friendly teaching methods are used to make the class atmosphere enjoyable and inclusive.

You are asked to listen to your body and stay within your capabilities, proceed at your own pace, and avoid strain or injury. The Tai Chi for Health programs provide sound training to support and sustain a healthy lifestyle.  The institute trains instructors and requires bi-annual recertification to assure quality standards. Introductory sets include: Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention, Tai Chi for Rehabilitation, Tai Chi for Energy and Tai Chi for Beginners.

Traditional Tai Chi

Sun Style 73 Forms is an adaptation of the original Sun Style 98 Forms sequence first published in 1921 by Master Sun Lutang (1861-1933), in “The Study of Taijiquan”. Master Sun developed his unique approach to tai chi by blending three forms of internal martial arts. He broke with tradition by teaching tai chi to women and by promoting its health benefits more than the martial applications. Typical of classical tai chi, Sun Style 73 Forms involves a complex sequence of movements that continually change shape and direction. It is characterized by a high stance, agile steps and the integration of qigong.

Chen Style 7 Forms is Dr. Yang Yang’s abridged version of the traditional Chen Style 48 Forms, designed to improve balance and agility. It is a short but wonderfully rich sequence characterized by spiraling energy and flow.

Fan Form introduces you to the spiralling force of tai chi, extending the full bodied motion of tai chi through the graceful gestures of a fan. Initially created as a weapons practice, Fan 36 Forms integrates strength, mobility and beauty through the spiraling principles of Silk Reeling.