This article was written to help you understand more about our Tai Chi and Qi Gong instruction, the benefits of practice, and the importance of lineage in Tai Chi and the martial arts in general. Our general class information, including hours and fees, is here.
There are many styles of Tai Chi, with the Yang style being one of the most popular. Within the Yang style there are many different versions of the forms, ones that are shortened, some that are different due to teacher/family variations, etc. Our center teaches what is known as the Classical Yang Style Tai Chi Long Form, and the instruction comes via a clean historical line of masters from the founder of the Yang style (Yang Luchan – 1799-1872) down to the present time.
Tai Chi is a very popular health and martial arts/self-defense system of exercise and philosophy. The health benefits of Tai Chi have been studied extensively by western medical researchers and others worldwide for years. Tai Chi has been shown to benefit the immune, cardiovascular, and nervous systems, strengthen balance and coordination, and alleviate stress and improve mental concentration. Historically, many people, including some who became respected teachers, began their study of tai chi due to poor health or chronic illnesses.
In modern times many people face conditions such as anxiety and depression, high blood pressure, and diabetes. These conditions, and others, are often referred to as lifestyle diseases. The majority of them are preventable and possibly even cured by moderate changes to ones diet and exercise patterns. Tai Chi due to its ability to strengthen the body on so many levels, is an excellent exercise to help alleviate the many issues of modern life.
The following quote from a famous Master, T.T. Liang (1900-2002), who was an important figure in the development and spread of Tai Chi Chuan in the west, has this to say on the matter: “Practiced daily, Tai Chi will bring you glowing health with the “flexibility of an infant” and renewed vitality. Once health is achieved, one can begin to approach the self-defense aspects as a vehicle for developing one’s spiritual and mental capacities.”
We often use one of a few Qi Gong routines as warmups for Tai Chi. Qi Gong routines generally take less time to learn and practice than the longer Tai Chi forms. We focus on using them to build strength, familiarize yourself with the movement of energy in your body, and strengthen your own Qi, or energy. Two of the major routines we teach are the Tai Chi Dao Yin and the Da Peng Gong. These two forms were developed by one of my masters, Tom Tam.
For Tai Chi form instruction, each person practices the sections of the form that they have learned up to this point on their own. I will come around individually and correct the last section you have learned and then show you the next section. Teaching the Tai Chi form section by section, individually, is a very traditional way of learning the form and is crucial for learning to perform the movements correctly. People will generally learn the “forty two movement big circle form” within 3-6 months.
After you have learned the form and can practice it well all the way through, we will do more advanced corrections to the form and move on to other aspects of Tai Chi such as weapons forms and push-hands – which is the techniques to learn the martial applications of the movements.
While it is true that the majority of the people who study Tai Chi are only interested in the health aspects, it is ultimately a very powerful martial art. And while fighting may not be your interest, a proper understanding of the applications of the movements allows you to understand their meaning and, accordingly, improve your form.
About The Yang Style Tai Chi Long Form:
Tai Chi has a long and interesting history of development. It originated from various historical practices, but the beginning of Tai Chi proper is considered to be with San-Feng Chang (1391-1459?). The Yang style for which we provide instruction began with Yang Lu-Chan (1799-1872) (other popular styles are the Chen, Wu, and Sun). Yang Cheng-Fu (in the pictures above – (1883-1936) was one of the first to openly teach the form and his teachings are what we continue to follow today. He is largely responsible for the access that we now have to instruction in what was traditionally well guarded teachings. The Yang Style that we teach within the center comes through the following lineage:
- Yang Luchan (1799 – 1872)
- Yang Chian (1839 – 1917)
- Yang Cheng-Fu (1883 – 1936)
- Yang Sau Chung (1910 – 1985)
- Gin Soon Chu (present)
My instruction comes from Grandmaster Gin Soon Chu and his sons Vincent and Gordon. I continue my studies with a top student of Grandmaster Chu, Master Tom Tam.
In the world of Tai Chi, the Gin Soon Chu Tai Chi Federation provides some of the best Tai Chi instruction anywhere in the world. More information about the federation, lineage information, and many useful articles and videos can be found here. You may also want to view our collection of Tai Chi videos many of which are from Grandmaster Gin Soon Chu and his son Master Vincent Chu.