Tai Chi Classes in & near Aldershot, Hawley, Farnborough, Camberley, Cove, Farnham & Mytchett
Please read info below before enrolling for a Tai Chi Chuan class as you may find that our Tai Chi Qigong classes may suit you better:
Pic above: Master Wang Haijun corrects SHTC Instructor, Cherry Collins' posture in front of the Taiji Museum in Chen Village, China
We teach Tai Chi from two approaches
Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan
Tai Chi Qigong
First of all: What is Tai Chi?
The concept of Tai Chi existed thousands of years before Tai Chi Chuan as a martial art was invented, and hundreds of years before Tai Chi Qigong as a health promoting exercise was developed
Tai Chi is mentioned in the I Ching (the Chinese 'Book of Changes' c1070BC) as 'the interplay / balance of two opposite energies- Yin & Yang, which in varying proportions create everything that exists'. It is represented by the familiar digram
According to the Chinese way of thinking, when the natural yin/ yang balance of energy is upset, sickness occurs in living things, and freak weather /natural disasters occur in the nature. Restoring the natural balance of Yin ang Yang energy in the body is the aim of Chinese Medicine and Feng Shui is the way of influencing the yin/ yang energies in our environment / home
With this understanding, we can see that the practice of Tai Chi is concerned primarily with working with the energy of the practitioner for optimum health benefits, and additionally for self defence in the case of Tai Chi as a 'Chuan' which translates as 'Fist'
What is Tai Chi Qigong?
Tai Chi means the balance of Yin & Yang energy and Qigong means energy work. We have seen above that when there is a harmonious balance of Yin & Yang there is good health. Therefore Tai Chi Qigong is "Balancing one's energy to positively influence health and wellness of body and mind"
Tai Chi Qigong uses many of the same postural and loosening exercises as it's 'Chuan'counterpart, but the movements are much easier on the body and mind. The emphasis is on DOING the movements by following along in a more relaxed way, within your comfort range, rather than having to study and perfect the movements according to a set of fixed rules or principles (although some guidelines are still followed)
You will probably prefer Tai Chi Qigong if you are looking for something to improve your health or to de-stress your mind or improve your ability to relax and switch off after a busy day.
It is particularly (but not exclusively) suitable for people who have some issues with strength, coordination and range of movement, those with a health condition or joint problems, and those who are working long hours which means that they cannot attend every week or find time to practice at home.
The remainder of this page of our website will focus on Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan (Martial arts based Tai Chi ), if you want the softer exercise, you can click the pink link to read more about the various type of Qigong classes here
What Is Tai Chi Chuan?
Here's my own loose translation: 'Training one's own yin yang energy, and learning to read and borrow another's energy, to gain an advantage in Martial Arts (with the added bonus of good health!)
As we have seen above, Tai Chi Chuan is a Chinese martial art. We teach the Chen Family Style of Tai Chi Chuan, which is considered to be the most martial of all styles. It combines wide open stances, slow precise movements, drilled repeatedly at a snails pace and committed to memory, whilst adhering to partiuclar 'principles' in regards how the different parts of the body move and align with each other
It is definitely a 'journey' and you will find you are changing all the time :) It takes patience, regular practice at home, weekly (at least) attendance in class. Training in Tai Chi Chuan is a lifetime discipline which develops self control, present moment awareness and health of body and mind.
Chen Style Tai Chi is a traditional style which you can really immerse yourself in. At it's foundations is a specific way of moving, a figure of 8 path, known as silk reeling movement. We regularly practice this important foundation exercise of Chen Tai Chi in all of our Chen classes, before moving on to our form study and practice. Our Chen style syllabus includes 18 Movement form, 74 Movement form (Laojia Yi Lu), Cannon Fist (Laojia Er Lu), Push Hands and the Sword and Sabre forms.
One of our classes. Cherry, our instructor, is in front left.
More info on the benefits of Tai Chi practice
Tai Chi is considered to be of great physical benefit. Its practice maintains good health as it provides an all over body workout, strengthening muscles, tendons and bones, increasing mobility of joints, massaging the internal organs and increasing the flow of blood nutrients and 'Qi' to all parts of the body. (For more info on 'Qi' see the FAQ's page). Blood pressure and heartbeat are regulated, stress is reduced and the practitioner gains an overall state of well-being.
Tai Chi practice also provides a workout for the mind, as each movement is different and is accompanied by a deep but relaxed focus. The practice of Tai Chi Chuan develops our ability to be present in the moment, not a second ahead nor behind. To live in the now. This is like the present-moment awareness often sought through meditation. It shifts the brainwave pattern from the stress producing Beta pattern, to a healing Alpha state. No wonder people say they feel so calm focused and well after a Tai Chi class.
What happens in a Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan class?
Each class begins with a gentle warm up to prepare our bodies for practice. We practice some joint loosening exercises since one of the main principles of Tai Chi is to have a loose body.
Regardless of whether you attend a beginners, improvers or intermediates class, we follow the traditional way and we always practice some foundation exercises.The basics teach you the 'way' of Tai Chi.
Everything we learn subsequently, is built upon these important basic foundations. The beauty of these exercises are their simplicity and the small amount of space needed to practice, which means you can practice at home in between classes - in fact this is essential- Tai Chi Chuan cannot be learnt in a one hour class per week without any practice at home. (we have DVDs which you can follow, priced £18 - although some practice should be done without depending on the DVD too)
After the foundation exercises are practised, we move onto learning the movements of a form, which is built upon class by class. There are lots of demonstrations, repetitions and corrections to posture to make sure you learn the movements correctly. Everything is explained in a matter of fact way in plain English, and occasionally Chinese, where English words fall short, but explanations are given.
In addition to empty hand or 'fist' forms, we also teach the following weapons forms: Tai Chi Double Fan, Single Sword and Broadsword routines.
In keeping with traditional Chinese teaching these are normally studied once the student has a good Tai Chi foundation and experience, although some exercises involving practice weapons may be incorporated at an earlier stage to introduce variety and strengthen the body in preparation for weapons forms later on.