Tai Chi Journey (太極之道)
Our teaching is based on the accumulated knowledge of many generations of Tai Chi (太極) and Internal Arts (內家) masters.
The unique thing about it is the emphasis on individuals.
Everyone’s body and physical ability is different: therefore the teaching for each individual must be specific.
The Journey (道) Begins
With a health focus in mind, we emphasize relaxation, balance and body alignment, when we work with new beginners.
The primary goal at this stage is to teach the students to move gently with proper foot and leg alignment.
Trying to memorize something new adds undesirable stress for many new students.
Therefore we encourage them to start with the correct posture for each Tai Chi move rather than memorizing the sequence of the moves.
The sequence of the moves will be learned by following the continuing students in practising the Tai Chi set.
For students who prefer to learn the moves and sequence at the same time, the instructor will provide necessary guidance.
The beginner journey normally takes three months.
The Journey Continues
The way a student practises Tai Chi evolves over time, with direction from the instructor.
In the first year, the form will be linear, with lots of standing up, sinking down and transferring weight from one leg to the other.
Students are practicing squaring the hips, stretching the legs, back and arm muscles, relaxing the joints.
The goal is to stretch the muscles to gain flexibility and to build up strength in the legs.
This is a weight resistant exercise and it helps in retaining bone mass.
Journey of Transition
As the students progress, the form will become more round and circular.
The emphasis on big body movement changes to movement of the hips and the spine.
Instead of stretching the muscles, now the spine, tendons, ligaments, and joints are being stretched.
At this point the transition from external movement to internal begins.
Basic knowledge of the spine, bones, joints, and the Chinese meridians (經絡) and acupuncture points (穴位) is necessary for internal cultivation (內修).
The practise of standing meditation (站椿) and walking meditation (行椿) will be part of the routine.
The concept of Qi (氣) will be introduced.
Sensing of the Qi (氣感)
The next stage turns to practising how to use the spine to guide the movement of the abdomen.
This internal movement will result in sensing the Qi in the Dantian (丹田).
Practise in spiraling of the spine will gradually open the three gates (三關) along the Du meridian (督脈).
The Qi will be able to flow along the Ren (任脈) and Du (督脈) meridians as guided by the intent (意) of the mind.
This practice takes the student to the next level: the practice of using intent to guide the Qi to rotate the Dantian and spiraling the spine to drive the Tai Chi move.
At this point the students are starting their journey of internal cultivation (內修) to reach a high level of awareness.
Internal Cultivation (內修)
Taoists (founders of Tai Chi) conceive of the human body as a small universe within the universe we live in.
The body is described by the interaction of Yin (陰) and Yang (陽) and the same five elements (五行) describing the universe.
These elements are Metal (金), Wood (木), Water (水), Fire (火), and Earth (土).
The five organs that mirror the elements are the lung, liver, kidney, heart, and spleen.
Maintaining a Yin Yang balance within the body and mind is crucial to health.
Tai Chi is a practise that promotes the balance by stimulating the vital organs, strengthening the muscles and bones.
Available as a PDF for download.