TAI CHI & TAIJIQUAN INFORMATION
We're Utah's largest Tai Chi community. We offer local classes, books and the only Tai Chi group with our own exclusive smartphone app to help you learn and understand this exercise. I want to see more local Utahns practice this amazing art that I grew up with to learn and teach.
It was refreshing to see so many groups in Beijing practice as a community, and I want that same environment here in Utah. My goal is also to remove all the mysticism behind Taiji; I try to keep classes down to earth and understandable for the newcomers, yet enlightening and challenging for the experienced.
Q: I've never done Tai Chi before... is it beginner friendly?
A: Yes! It's a slow-paced moving exercise, combining meditation with traditional martial arts. Think of it like a slow dance routine. It's follow-the-leader with our movements. Every class has 1-3 new people rotating each class, with enough veterans for you to watch and imitate. No pressure at all, and you're more than welcome to spectate or step to the side if it gets too confusing. Tai Chi classes are about 1 hour; Kung Fu 2 hours.
Q: What exactly is Tai Chi Chuan/Taijiquan? Why the different spelling?
A: Tai Chi Chuan (pronounced tie-jee-chwen) is an old traditional Chinese exercise that combines meditation, daoist philosophy, breath/energy control (Qi Gong) and self-defense techniques in a slow, controlled choreographed routine. It's "meditation in motion", or formally known as Path of the Body, as it requires you to focus on your bodily movements to concentrate and stay in the moment, allowing you to relax while lightly exercising. Tai Chi Chuan and Taijiquan are one and the same, and translate to the same thing - "Supreme Ultimate Fist"; Taijiquan is the most accurate translation to how it's pronounced, but most Americans already know it as Tai Chi Chuan as that was how it was originally translated when it first came to the US and is the most wide-spread spelling.
Q: What is Qi Gong? What's the difference with Tai Chi?
A: Qi Gong literally translates to "life energy work." It's the coordinated movements synchronizing your energy with your body. Easiest way to understand it on a basic level (without getting into the intricacies of Chinese medicine's understanding of the human body) is learning how to breath properly with the right movements. Like yoga, breath control is very important in Tai Chi. Qi Gong focuses on small movements & breathing to harness energy, whereas Tai Chi uses Qi Gong along with Meditation and Self-Defense techniques. Consider Qi Gong a building block - all Tai Chi has Qi Gong in it, but not all Qi Gong is Tai Chi. Sometimes we incorporate separate Qi Gong exercises after our Tai Chi just to focus on breathing.
Q: What style of Tai Chi do you teach?
A: We teach both Wudang SanFeng Taiji 13 and Old-Yang 108 styles.
Q: Isn't Tai Chi just for older people?
A: Absolutely not. However, it's very popular among older people as it's a very low impact exercise than can increase flexibility, balance, energy and heart condition - all of which older people look for but can't do with other high-impact exercises. One of my goals as a young instructor is to dispel this stereotype; in China, we'd have people as young as 12-yr old kids doing Tai Chi with us. I was 15-years-old when I first started learning Tai Chi. I'm a very active person that trains at least 3-hours a day, and even I can attest to its benefits. Attend any of my classes and you'll also see that this exercise is for all ages - from children to senior citizens.
Q: What do I wear?
A: Loose clothing, specifically pants since leg-movement is paramount, such as shorts or baggy breathable pants; tights and yoga/running tights work great as well as long as they stretch. Flat shoes preferred, like Tom-Toms or basic sneakers (running shoes have too much padding on it, making it harder to balance). No dark-sole shoes, please; it'll scuff our indoor flooring.
Here are links to help you out, but these items aren't mandatory - I just want you feeling comfy!
Women's Pants (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B013OQV1VS/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_QIInDbCHFWAQK)
Women's Shoes (https://www.amazon.com/TOMS-Womens-Canvas-Slip-Black/dp/B0757VPJJQ/ref=sr_1_13?keywords=tom+toms&qid=1564411504&s=gateway&sr=8-13)
Men's Pants (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01300KDDK/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_U_iHInDbEEDD54J)
Men's Shoes (https://www.amazon.com/TOMS-Mens-Classic-Canvas-Slip/dp/B00JGNY4WW/ref=sr_1_6?keywords=tom+toms+mens&qid=1564411648&s=gateway&sr=8-6)
Q: Is your style of Tai Chi Chuan/Taijiquan legitimate?
A: Unfortunately Tai Chi isn't well-known enough to be regulated by formal committees in the US... which leads to unqualified instructors. It takes much more than a few local classes, books and videos to teach it. I'm not a fan at all of "get certified" quick programs that churn out low quality instruction. The last thing I want to do is incorrectly teach a national treasure that's not even mine.
I wanted to go to the source, so for the sake of formality and knowing you're working with a legitimate instructor, I'm certified by the China Wudang Kungfu Academy in Hubei, China, the biggest and most well known school in Wudangshan - the birthplace of Tai Chi. It was pretty much college for martial artists. We'd train 6-8 hours daily working on Kung Fu, Tai Chi, and all aspects of Chinese martial arts, from learning Mandarin, to meditation, to watching Chinese cinema. I was taught and surrounded by experts in Taiji in the heart of China, where everyone lives, eats and breaths Taiji daily.
I graduated with a Taiji Instructor Certificate, and I also received an honorary Coach Certificate. We were all held to incredibly high standards, and to this day I'm still humbled with my experience. I have a very pragmatic approach to teaching Tai Chi. I want to offer results, not magical promises. You can visit their website for more info: www.daoistkungfu.com. I've referred students in the past to go to the same school I went to in China, and they have loved the experience.
I know Old Yang Style, Wudang Style, Xuanwu Style, Baghuazhang and select Qigong exercises. For Shaolin, I know over 30 forms and 10 types of weapons, from sabers to staffs to spears to swords.
Q: How can I learn more about Tai Chi outside our classes?
A: We have an app for that! Designed by our group and lead by our veteran students. It's the exact same form and basic movements we practice in class, in the convenience of your smartphone. Download today, and you'll learn Basic Movements, the form we do, and even meditation. If you have a VR viewer, it'll allow you to practice our Tai Chi form from me in virtual reality, giving you the feeling of training in a group in the comfort of your own space. Now you have no excuses not to exercise! Check it out at:
Tai Chi Trainer XR (http://www.taichitrainerxr.com)