Tai Chi for Health: Experience Soothing Peace and Rejuvenating Calm
This course examines the practice and principles of the Li Family’s Willow Taijiquan focusing on the many health benefits to be found in a regular practise of taijiquan.
The essence of all taijiquan is found in the four fundamental principles of Peng, Lu, Ji, and An. Students will learn a five movement form (Wubao Wudao: the Five Treasures Martial Dance) and study these principles in great depth. The five movements are easy to remember and can be practised in a small space.
Today, taijiquan is mostly thought to be a smooth, flowing, and gentle method of nourishing Health and Vitality. The slow, relaxed movements, if practised regularly, have been scientifically shown to reduce stress, improve balance, lower blood pressure, enhance circulation, increase joint flexibility, improve lymphatic flow, and reduce joint pain.
Based on the interplay of Yin and Yang, Five Treasures Taijiquan is a Chinese martial art based on sensitivity and awareness, softness and subtlety, power and skill. The art is an embodied study of receptive (Yin) and active (Yang) principles and is famous for efficiently and effortlessly neutralizing, redirecting, and returning vigorous incoming force.
In the late 1800’s, Taijiquan was known as a fearsome martial art. Advanced students may turn their studies toward devastating martial applications of taijiquan. This, truly, is a life-long study.
This course is suitable for beginners, adults, and seniors.
Classes run twice weekly all year long on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Please see Schedule.
School T-shirts, traditional, black Hanzhifu ("Kung Fu" uniforms), and indoor shoes are required after 3 months. Until then, sweats, a t-shirt, bunny hug, and indoor shoes will suffice.
The goal of the class is to introduce the student to all of the below material and develop a regular practice that enhances the student's health in a holistic manner.
Daoist Philosophical Principles (Yin & Yang, Ziran, Wu Wei, Wuji)
Heath Principles (Posture, Release of Tension, Breathing, Balance,
Centring, Visualization skills)
Taijiquan Principles (Circularity, Song, Pivot, Non-Resistance, Xu &
Shi, Continuous Flow, Waves, Peng, Lu, Ji, An, Smoothness)
Quiet Sitting (meditation)
Dao Yin (Daoist yoga)
Zhan Zhuang (Standing meditation)
Form (Five Treasures Form)
Contact us to try a class!
NOTE: Tai Chi for Health students who have learned the Five Treasures Form (Wu Bao Wudao) can choose to take the advanced martial arts class Willow Taijiquan Sensitivity & Power Training
What is Taijiquan?
Taijiquan, 太極拳, also spelled tàijíquán and T’ai Chi Ch’uan, and sometimes shortened to Tai Chi, is a Chinese martial art based on sensitivity and awareness, softness and subtlety, power and skill. The art is an embodied study of receptive (Yin) and active (Yang) principles and is famous for efficiently and effortlessly neutralizing, redirecting, and returning vigorous incoming force. In the late 1800’s, Taijiquan was known as a fearsome martial art. Now, it is mostly thought to be a smooth, flowing, and gentle method of nourishing Health and Vitality. The slow, relaxed movements, if practiced regularly, have been scientifically shown to reduce stress, improve balance, lower blood pressure, enhance circulation, increase joint flexibility, improve lymphatic flow, and reduce joint pain.
How do you pronounce it?
Taijiquan is pronounced “tie” as in necktie, “jee” as in “golly gee,” and “chew-an.” Each word can be translated from Mandarin: “tai” means “supreme, grand, great, large, big,” while “ji” means “crossbeam rafter, ridgepole, utmost, extreme, ultimate,” and “quan” means “fist, boxing art.” This gives a final, combined translation of taijiquan as “Supreme Ultimate Boxing,” or “Great Pole Boxing.”
Li, Renma (1801-1913), Diqi Zongshi Lijia Daoqiquan (Seventh Patriarch of the Li Family Martial Way of Vitality), mastered the Li family martial arts as a young man. During his travels as a baobiao (caravan guard), he must have heard of the highly famed Yang, Luchan (1799-1872), also known as Yang, Wudi, 楊無敵, (Invincible Yang!). Yang developed a reputation as a preeminent martial arts instructor by the mid-1850’s in Beijing while teaching Yang Taijiquan to the Imperial family and several units of the elite Manchu Imperial Guards Brigade.
Yang learned his taijiquan from Chen, Changxing (1771-1853) in the Chen village called Chenjia Gou (Chen Family Creek), but few people knew this and even fewer travelled to the Chen village to train. Existing documentation seems to show that the Chen family taijiquan was not taught outside the Chen village region until 1928. The Chen family developed its own method of martial practice (much as the Li family did) beginning in 1374 with Chen, Bu. The invention and development of taijiquan is attributed to Chen, Wangting (1530-1660) around the same time period that Lama Zurdwang developed the Li family martial art of Daoqiquan. The methods of Chen Taijiquan are integrated from the Chen family martial arts, Yin-Yang Theory, Dao Yin (Traditional Chinese “Yoga”), Tuina (Traditional Chinese Massage), Traditional Chinese medical theory, and martial theories from many other boxing styles.
Li, Renma, according to Li Family oral traditions, studied both Yang and Chen methods of taijiquan before interpreting them through the Li Family’s lens of Daoqiquan. In this manner, the taijiquan principles, shapes, and movements were retained while subtle Daoqiquan concepts such as the Five Circles and the Six Stances were seamlessly interwoven into them creating a unique expression of the essence of taijiquan. Li, Renma called this new method Liu Taijiquan, or Willow Taijiquan, in honour of the core principles of adaptability and resilience that comprised it, and it has since been included in the Daoqiquan corpus of martial, health, and vitality methods.
At the time that Li, Renma was developing his method of Liu Taijiquan, other martial artists were doing the same thing: Wu (Hao) Taijiquan of Wu, Yuxiang (1812-1880); Wu Taijiquan of Wu Quanyou (1834-1902); and Sun Taijiquan of Sun, Lutang (1860-1933). These are just a few of the innovators and variations involved in the development of taijiquan roughly contemporaneous with Li, Renma. The Li family kept their taijiquan innovations secret, teaching only family and clan members until Li, Longdao moved to Texas and taught Dr. John Painter in the late 1950’s.
Dr. John Painter revisited the Chen and Yang styles to better understand the roots of Liu Taijiquan. After several years of experimenting by adding more forms and longer forms, he concluded the original Liu Taijiquan of the Li family was complete and sufficient in itself. Nothing else needed to be added in order to develop all of the health and martial benefits offered by any style of taijiquan if one understands the principles and trains in a principle-based manner. More techniques and more forms can just end up adding legs to a snake.
Today, we keep Liu Taijiquan simple and uncluttered. With the Five Treasures Form (Wubao Xing), a student can dive as deep into as they might wish to; the depths are profound.
Willow Taijiquan is the essence of the earliest taijiquan teachings. The Li family felt that these five movements were all you needed to study in order to deeply understand the methods of taijiquan.