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T'ai Chi Chuan by Charlie Chan

T'ai Chi Chuan is a system of movement, meditation, and self-defence from ancient Chinese culture. The T'ai Chi form consists of a sequence of postures, strung together in smooth, slow, continuous movement.
The movements of the T'ai Chi form follow a precise system of balance and relaxation.

The most important principle in T'ai Chi is relaxation. In doing the T'ai Chi form, we become aware of where we are relaxed and where we hold tension.
The postures and movements help the body to release tension in the muscles and encourage flexibility in the joints. The slow shifting of weight from foot to foot strengthens the legs and helps the circulation of blood through the body: the legs are considered the 2nd pulmonary pump, and in helping to move the blood they reduce the workload of the heart. The feet are flat on the ground and the form is practised low, with the knees relaxed, developing our stability and balance. The spine is straight, improving our posture.

On a deeper level, the practice of T'ai Chi improves our health by encouraging the circulation of our internal energy (chi) through the body. The movement of chi nourishes the health of the internal organs. Regular practice of the form helps to send the chi through the body in the best order, in a balanced flow. So both for our ch'i (internally) and for our joints and musculature (externally) T'ai Chi is an essential practice for our health.

Traditionally the T'ai Chi form is performed daily: as soon as we get up in the morning and just before going to bed at night.
The T'ai Chi player comes to experience that there is an intimate mind-body-spirit connection. As we learn where we have physical tension and let it go, we also become aware of mental or emotional tensions that we accumulate: from our job, from family or relationships, from the stresses of day-to-day life.

 In practising the form, we bring our awareness down to the balance-point of the body (Tantien) and feel our body and our movements from this centre. In relaxing our mind and emotions to the tan t'ien, the internal chatter we always have can calm and subside. 
The meditation of T'ai Chi is not one in which we shut out the outside world to go within. It is a balancing of internal and external awareness. It allows us to deal with the world from a more grounded, centred base. In this way, T'ai Chi meditation is a very practical tool, at work for us through our day.

The title T'ai Chi Chuan can be translated as "Supreme Ultimate Fist" but its effectiveness is best shown as a non-aggressive self defence. Different from the hard arts where force is met with force, in T'ai Chi one yields before force, rotates out of its way, redirects it. The training of T'ai Chi teaches us to react with relaxation, timing, and balance. Where other martial arts decline as one ages, the practice of T'ai Chi improves through our whole life. 
The training of T'ai Chi as a self defence is principally through "Push Hands" (T'ui Shou) practice, though "Sensing Hands" might be a better translation. In this partner exercise, we use postures and movements from the form, and kinaesthetically "listen" for our partner's balance, timing, and tension. Through the Push Hands practice we learn to play with the energy of their movements, and develop relaxation and balance in our response to force coming toward us.

Through our daily practice of this slow and conscious movement, we re-connect with our essential self, so our T'ai Chi is a path to deeper self-understanding and transcendent spirit. Although T'ai Chi Chuan is an embodiment of Confucian and Taoist philosophy, it speaks the universal language of harmony and unity.
The T'ai Chi symbol is the familiar black and white circle, gracefully depicting the balance of opposites, with each half containing the seed of its opposite. Ultimately, we see how our individual sense of balance and harmony expands to our interaction with others and the world around us.
There are different ideas on the origin of T'ai Chi. One of the most common is that of a monk who, in observing the attacking and defending movements of a bird and a snake, conceived of a method of self defence that was based on relaxation, timing and balance rather than muscular strength.

T'ai Chi was taught at first within families, developing into 4 or 5 family styles. As a martial art it was kept in the family, withheld for the master and his few disciples. In the past century it was made available to more of the Chinese populace at large, and then to the Western world. Perhaps the most popular style of T'ai Chi today is the Yang style (from the Yang family) short form (37 postures, rather than 150 or so), through the teaching of Prof. Cheng Man-Ch'ing.

The School of T'ai Chi Chuan – St Albans

The School of T'ai Chi Chuan is a school of 8 teachers teaching Tai Chi in St Albans. We are part of the T'ai Chi Foundation, an international T'ai Chi school, with over 200 teachers in 30 cities. Our T'ai Chi school follows the teaching philosophy of our international school: preserving the lineage and tradition of this ancient art while presenting it in a modern, easy-to-learn method.

How we teach

The distinguishing feature of the way we teach Tai Chi classes in St Albans is via our team teaching method. This distinctive system makes our classes very easy to follow. Our method of team teaching provides our students with a setting where the emphasis is on the clarity of the work. When two or more of our instructors work together in a single class, the students always have one instructor's movements to follow while another instructor helps guide the class and follow up on specific needs of the group.

Comprehensive curriculum

We offer a systematic and comprehensive curriculum of tai chi classes for beginning and advanced students. Tai chi classes are taught by teams of two or more specially trained instructors. We transmit the tai chi form with clarity, precision and respect for tradition, using a method that makes learning both easy and fun. With a programme of weekday evening and weekend day classes, our tai chi classes are tailored to provide a moment of calm in the midst of busy life.

The 37-posture tai chi Beginning Form is taught in 30 one-hour classes, divided into three separate sections: B1, B2 and B3. Each section is taught as a distinct course over a ten-hour period once a week. We also teach practice sessions on Saturday mornings in Clarence Park. These are optional but a great way to embody the moves and to have a drink afterwards and chat with fellow students and teachers. The moves of the tai chi form are thoroughly explained and practiced in tai chi classes which normally meet for one hour, once a week. Daily tai chi practice is recommended.

We also offer more advanced tai chi classes for continuing study. Each tai chi course focuses on a different aspect of the art. Emphasis is on the principles of relaxed movement, which are essential to progress. The curriculum includes advanced tai chi form classes, push hands, Tai Chi sword and optional apprenticeships.

Yang Style - Cheng Man-Ch"ing

We teach Yang-Style Tai Chi as developed by Grand Master Cheng Man-Ch'ing (some call this Cheng Man-Ch'ing style).

Our school was founded in 1976 in New York, USA, by one of his senior students, Patrick Watson. Teachers with our school are now spread out across the United States, and in Europe.

To get an impression of our school's Tai Chi holiday and classes go to You Tube:

Information on our central body, the not-for-profit T'ai Chi Foundation, can be found at:


Last Updated ( Tuesday, 09 September 2014 11:26 )  

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