Yang Style Tai Chi
Tai chi is a form of qigong (energy cultivation). Based in martial arts movements, tai chi provides training in proper body mechanics and natural alignment. It fosters a relaxed body and a peaceful state of mind, which are essential ingredients for cultivating healthy energy or qi.
Tai Chi originated in China around the 13th century A.D. as a synthesis of martial arts exercise and sitting meditation. The perspective of the Tao was integral to the philosophy and culture of China for thousands of years and naturally influenced the development of Tai Chi. Tao is translated as "road" or "path." According to this perspective, living simply, being quiet and observant and willing to move with the flow of things promotes harmonious life. This insight is based on astute observation of nature's cycles and on a cosmology that is compatible with modern theoretical physics. The body is a microcosm of the universe and one's personal health is influenced by the rhythms of life on earth, the patterns of the larger universe, and all relationship to other humans. All of life is interconnected.
Tai Chi was originally developed by Chinese martial arts experts in order to advance their skills. Traditional Tai Chi forms incorporate highly complex movement patterns throughout the entire sequence which are based in blocks, kicks and punches. Most traditional forms take 12-20 minutes to perform and over one year to learn. Although natural athletic ability and previous movement training are a great asset, the discipline of regular practice is the key to long-term benefits. Tai Chi, like any true art, has a depth which can be appreciated through years of practice and dedication.
Tai Chi, which is based in self defense movements, evolved as a physical activity for integrating mind, body and spirit to function in harmony with the external world. Rather than cultivating brute force, which inevitably becomes depleted, tai chi cultivates the Middle Way, a peaceful path.
Tai Chi encompasses several styles or forms, each originating from three main branches named after their most famous proponents (Yang, Chen or Wu). Many interpretations of these styles have emerged throughout its long history, resulting in numerous variations in form. All these traditional forms of Tai Chi involve highly complex movement patterns that take months to learn.
For many centuries, Tai Chi was practiced privately, passed on from father to son in the Chen Village in northern China. (This passing of knowledge from one generation to another is known as lineage, a term which is still used to describe the transmission of a particular form from master to student.) Beginning in the mid-1800's Master Yang Lu Shan, founder of the Yang Style form, was the first to teach Tai Chi publicly. It soon became popular in martial arts circles as an advanced self-defense method. In the early 20th century Lu Shan's grandson, Master Yang Cheng Fu, promoted Tai Chi as a health exercise. Since then, it has enjoyed widespread popularity in China. Adults of all ages practice the flowing postures every day. Many older adults begin learning Tai Chi after retirement.
In the late sixties, Tai Chi began to take root in the United States and Europe. Grandmaster Cheng Man Ch'ing, a student of Yang Cheng Fu and already a renowned teacher across mainland China and Taiwan, came to New York and became one of the first to teach this ancient exercise openly to non-Chinese students. For the remainder of his life, Cheng Man-Ching continued to divide his time between the United States and Taiwan, and taught his form to many students who later became teachers in their own right.
Since then, his students, including Masters Benjamin Pang Jeng Lo, William C.C. Chen and Maggie Newman have taught Cheng Man Ch'ing lineage Yang style tai chi to thousands of students across the United States and Europe, making it the most popular form worldwide. Increasing numbers of people are finding this combination of movement and mental focus an excellent approach to both physical fitness and stress reduction.
Instruction available: Cheng Man Ch'ing Tai Chi DVDs.
Medical research has shown that tai chi practice is effective for reducing stress and enhancing immune function. Tai chi is a moderate aerobic exercise and one expert has called it, "The most powerful weight-bearing exercise known to man." Its benefits for reducing falls, lowering blood pressure, reducing anxiety, and improving balance and posture have been widely published. Tai chi is a gentle and safe exercise. However, if you have specific health concerns,
please consult your physician before participating in this or any exercise program.
Tai Chi is based on the perspective that mind and body are not separate; rather, they are different expressions of Qi energy or life force. The principles that facilitate health of body naturally are healthy for the mind, and visa versa. These principles apply to human interaction as well. Tai Chi was developed as a means of cultivating the body, mind and spirit to function in harmony with the external world.