Tai Chi Chuan (or Taijiquan) is an exercise that improves balance, flexibility, cardiovascular health and the immune system. It is also known as “Moving Meditation” since we practice slow, fluid, circular and centered Martial Arts and Qigong movements with a relaxed body and mind.
Harvard Medical School says Tai Chi is one of the best exercises you dan do for your health. Tai Chi improves balance, flexibility, cardiovascular fitness and the immune system. It helps the recovery from chronic stroke, heart failure, high blood pressure, heart attacks, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and fibromyalgia. Tai Chi reduces the risk of falls, stress and the symptoms of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder in adolescents.
Tai Chi is based on the balance and change of yin (passive) and yang (active) elements and therefore reflects the balance of forward-backward, up-down, expansion-contraction, attack-defence etc. In Tai Chi you never meet brute force with resistance but follow the motion while remaining in contact until it exhausts itself or you can redirect it. This is based on the ancient Taoist principle that soft (yin) overcomes the hard (yang) and any movement transforms into its opposite when it reaches the extreme.
Since the movements in the Tai Chi practice are initiated and lead by internal energy (qi or chi) rather than hard muscle movements, we also learn a little Qigong in our Tai Chi classes. We focus more on the health benefits and strengthening of internal energy, rather than martial applications.
Tai Chi Curriculum
I teach Tai Chi Basics, Tai Chi Mechanics and Tai Chi Dynamics regularly in Cyprus & Turkey. These 3 training teach basic philosophy and principles of Tai Chi as well as a Tai Chi form. The ideal learning steps are as below but it’s not mandatory to follow it precisely. For instance you can first learn a specific form or take Tai Chi Dynamics/Mechanics and then participate in Tai Chi Basics etc.
Yang Style Tai Chi
Yang Style is the most popular Tai Chi style, developed by Yang Lu-chan during mid 1800’s. It has wider stances and more open hand and arm positions in relation to other Tai Chi styles. Click for Yang Style Tai Chi Lineage
8 Steps Yang Style Tai Chi
International Wushu Federation (IWUF) has developed the 8 steps form by bringing together the relatively easier movements of Yang Style. It can easily be learned at any age and takes only a few minutes to do the 8 movements. Therefore it’s an ideal exercise for beginners and for those with busy schedules. This is the form that you learn in Tai Chi Basics training.
16 Steps Yang Style Tai Chi
Again developed by IWUF for beginners, 16 Steps is the next form for students to develop their knowledge and skills. Most of the movements can be learned and applied with ease. You can feel the wide, expansive and circular movements of the Yang Style better in 16 Steps Tai Chi. This is the form we practice in Tai Chi Mechanics.
24 Steps Yang Style Tai Chi
Is developed by Li Tian Ji in 1956, who was appointed by Chinese Sports Committee to create a simplified form of Taijiquan based on the traditional Yang style Tai Chi with the aim to promote an effective health exercise that can be practiced by the majority of the general public. The resulting 24 Steps Yang Style Tai Chi movements take about 6 minutes to perform and train the students on most of the essential elements of Taijiquan. It is also known as Beijing Form or Simplified Form and is the most popular Tai Chi form all over the world. It takes more time and dedication to learn compared to the 8 & 16 Step forms but still can be learned and practised by beginners. This is the form that you learn in Tai Chi Dynamics training.
Sun Style Tai Chi
Sun style Tai Chi is one of the five traditional schools of Tai Chi characterized by nimble steps, opening and closing of hands, gentle and graceful movements executed with an even speed and the emphasise on self-rejuvenation and energy work. There is no power exertion or jumping. Advancing or retreating steps are usually followed by a half step, and bow stances are only occasional. Body weight doesn’t stay on one leg for too long. Relaxed mental focus is more important than physical exertion. Gentle postures and high stances make it a safe health and energy cultivation exercise.
Sun Style Tai Chi was created in the early 20th century by the famous Martial Arts Master Sun Lu Tang, who was a Xingyiquan and Bagua Zhang Master and a scholar of Yi Jing and the Tai Chi classics. When Sun Lu Tang was about 50 years old and already a well-known expert of Bagua and Xingyi he started to learn Wu (Hao) Style Tai Chi from Hao Weizhen. He saw Tai Chi, Xingyi and Bagua as one family of internal arts and combined Bagua Zhang’s stepping method, Xingyiquan’s leg and waist methods and Taijiquan’s body softness in his Sun Style Tai Chi. Sun Style Tai Chi lineage
13 Steps Sun Style Tai Chi
Is the ideal form for beginners with its easy and characteristic movements of Sun Style Tai Chi.
38 Steps Sun Style Tai Chi
42 Steps Combined Styles Tai Chi
42 Steps Combined Tai Chi Form (or Competition Form) is the standard Wushu competition form which combines movements from the 4 traditional Taijiquan styles: Yang, Chen, Wu, and Sun. It was created in 1989 by Professor Li Deyin from the People’s University and Professor Men Hui Feng from The Beijing Sport Institute who were asked by the Chinese Sports Committee to form a standard competition form.
At the 11th Asian Games of 1990, Wushu (Martial Arts) was included as an item for competition for the first time with the 42 Form being chosen to represent Tai Chi. The chief judge of this competition was Professor Li Deyin as the developer of the form.
Sometimes also called 42 Steps Competition Form Tai Chi, it is a very effective health exercise because it improves flexibility, power and coordination. 42 Steps is more dynamic and powerful compared to 8, 16 and 24 Steps.
Tai Chi Sword (Taijijian)
Tai Chi Sword (Taijijian), includes the philosophy, principles and basic stances of Tai Chi hand forms but also employs sword techniques because the movements are done with a wooden or metal sword. Tai Chi Sword forms demand more coordination and skills in comparison to hand forms.
16 Steps Yang Style Tai Chi Sword
Is the shortest Tai Chi Sword form. It combines Yang Style Tai Chi’s wide and open stances and curved movements with sword techniques.
32 Steps Yang Style Tai Chi Sword
Includes more challenging movements in relation to the 16 Steps Sword form and is the most popular Yang Style Tai Chi Sword form. Is developed by Li Tian Ji, who was the creator of 24 Steps Yang Stili Tai Chi hand form.
Pushing hands (Tui Shou) is a two-person training that improves reflex, sensitivity, timing, coordination, balance, positioning and physical condition. It replaces the natural instinct to resist force with force with yielding and redirecting . You learn how to respond to external stimuli using techniques from the Tai Chi forms and develop “listening power”, the sensitivity to feel the direction and strength of a partner’s intention.
Check the EVENTS to see Tai Chi classes in Cyprus and Turkey.
Research on the health benefits of Tai Chi
- Tai Chi has beneficial effects on cardiorespiratory and musculoskeletal function, posture control capacity, and the reduction of falls experienced by the elderly. .
- Tai Chi can help maintain strength, flexibility, and balance.
- Tai Chi shows potential to enhance cognitive function in older adults.
- Tai chi beats back depression in the elderly
- Tai Chi improves T cell helper function of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus with an increase in T-bet transcription factor and IL-12 production
- Tai chi may be a useful treatment for fibromyalgia.
- Tai Chi may enhance quality of life, exercise capacity, and sleep stability in patients with chronic heart failure.
- Tai Chi training appears to reduce balance impairments in patients with mild-to-moderate Parkinson’s disease, with additional benefits of improved functional capacity and reduced falls.
- Tai Chi has benefits in health promotion and has potential role as an alternative therapy in neurological, rheumatological, orthopedic, and cardiopulmonary diseases. Tai Chi is effective in enhancing aerobic capacity, muscular strength, and balance and in improving cardiovascular risk factors.
- Tai Chi may reduce anxiety and depression and increase bone mineral density after menopause.
- Stroke patients who practice tai chi may improve their balance
- Tai Chi significantly raises immunity to shingles virus
- Five of the best exercises you can ever do- Harvard Medical School list
The meaning of Tai Chi
Taoist (Daoist) philosophy says there was emptiness before the creation of the universe. This is called “Wu Chi (Wuji)” which means no-thing or no-limit and is represented by an empty circle. Then, a differentiation took place in this no-thing and a form is created. This is shown by a dot in the centre of the circle. This creation brings differentiation, which forms the polarities, the duality. These two poles are called yin and yang. Yin and yang change in relation to each other and create each other all the time. Tai Chi (Taiji) is the symbol that shows these two polarities.
The Chinese characters that make the word Tai Chi 太極 (Taiji 太极), convey the meanings “boundless, ultimate, supreme ultimate”. We can think of it as the highest principle that creates all form. This principle includes yin and yang. Movement represents yang. When the movement reaches its extreme, it gives birth to stillness (yin). The extreme of stillness (yin) in turn creates movement (yang) once again.
As can be seen from the symbol above, when the two polarities (yin and yang) reach their maximum, they create the seed of their opposite. The word Chuan (quan) is martial arts. Therefore, Tai Chi Chuan (Taijiquan) is an internal martial arts where this highest principle is applied.
Tai Chi Instructor Training
- Take Tai Chi Basics, Tai Chi Mechanics and Tai Chi Dynamics training with groups or one-to-one.
- Practice what you learned on your own and take these 3 training again. There’s a 30% discount for repeat group training. No discount for one-to-one repeats.
- Prepare for assistanship with one-to-one lessons and then participate at least once in each of the above training as my assistant; showing and explaining some parts and correcting the participants’ postures. People living outside of Cyprus or Turkey who are not able to join the group training as my assistant can do the assistant test one-to-one.
- Get your Tai Chi Instructor Certificate after the one-to-one feedback and correction following your assistanship test.
Certificate and Review:
- You can teach 8 Steps, 16 Steps and 24 Steps Yang Style Tai Chi forms after you get your certificate. If you want to teach other Tai Chi hand or sword forms you also go through training and instructor test for them.
- The certificate is valid for a year and it’s renewed after the successful completion of the annual review for the forms you want to continue to teach.
- Annual review lasts at least one hour and its cost is the same as one-to-one lessons. It includes feedback, corrections, knowledge sharing and test.
- Tai Chi Instructors are promoted on my web site for free. Certificate issue/renewal cost is €20.
- I can always change the content, pricing, methods of certification and review of the instructor training; and can refuse to issue or renew certificates.