Wu Style Taiji, Qigong, and More
My Approach to Teaching Taiji & Qigong
I teach various qigong postures and exercises to increase awareness of the subtle activities and movements of the body and mind with the primary goal of increasing integration, fluidity, and naturalness of the mind-body. The natural result is a healthier mind-body. With practice, we aim to sharpen our focus and soften our edges while developing greater control over ourselves. I also teach the Wu taijiquan 108 Slow Form, push hands, and concepts and forms from the Chen taijiquan, xingyiquan, and baguazhang traditions. While my interest and studies include the martial aspect of these arts, my deepest understanding comes from the medical side; therefore, while I wil include martial applications, as they are indispensable, my focus is on using these arts for self-cultivation and healing.
Instruction is limited to one-on-one or small group classes, which may by contacting me directly. This type of instruction is ideal for those who wish to have a personally tailored experience learning these arts. It is especially useful for those who have injuries or ailments they seek to address, at least in part, through developing skill in health-building exercises. It is also a good choice for those who desire to lay a strong foundation at the outset or to address particular aspects of practice that have been difficult or confusing in the past.
My approach is slow and methodical, balancing detailed instruction in forms with exploration of fundamental principles and their application in every day life. I believe that mental flexibility, a dedication to practice, and a willingness to play are keys to the development of any student. It is this combination that allows the practitioner to delve more deeply into these arts each day, year after year.
Visit my blog, Mindful Musings, for more information on taiji and qigong.
I learned a majority of the specific forms taught in this class from Bill Herbrechtsmeier, Ph.D., professor emeritus of Religious Studies at Humboldt State University. Bill's Wu taijiquan teacher was Sophia Delza, who was a student of the late Grandmaster Ma Yueh Liang. I have also learned a great deal through studying of the works of Wen Zee, an indoor student of Master Ma. Wu Jianquan, son of Wu taijiquan founder Wu Quanyou, was Master Ma's teacher. Wu Quanyou was a student of Yang Luchan, the famous founder of Yang taijiquan, and Yang Luchan was taught by Chen Changxing of Chen village. Bill learned the qigong forms taught in this class from a Vietnamese teacher named Hoang Ta. The origin before that point is unknown.
My understanding of the fundamentals of taijiquan has been significantly influenced by Chen taijiquan teacher, Dave Christophy, who is a student of Wang Haijun, 12th generation lineage holder of Chen taijiquan and student of Chen Zhenglei.
Finally, Andrew Nugent-Head of the Association for Traditional Studies has had a tremendous impact on my understanding of the foundations of the Chinese arts, particularly in the realm of their practical applications in the areas of medicine, internal cultivation, and martial arts. I am deeply grateful for all of my teachers.
To Keep in Mind about Taiji & Qigong
"Qigong should be enjoyable, deeply relaxing, and energizing. If you find yourself becoming overly focused on minute details or stressing over doing things properly, you have begun to lose touch with the very essence of the practice. Balance is the key, and while it is important to work toward more and more proper posture, this is a very slow and gentle process. Nothing can be forced. The things that we learn from qigong take time to set in, and the body is slow to change. We must, therefore, take the long-term view of our practice, not expecting immediate results. Instead, each time we practice, we return to a place in which we recognize that we are exactly where we need to be at that moment, and there will always be more progress to be made. So, no matter how advanced we are, we must accept and be grateful for the present moment while also working to slowly improve and expand our practice. The following image may be helpful: As opposed to approaching practice like a squirrel that hurries frantically about, gathering supplies for the cold winter months, we should emulate the slow determination of the redwood tree, always rooting down into the earth and extending toward the sky, unperturbed by seasonal changes, accepting and intelligently utilizing the resources available to us, and continuing to grow until it is our time to return to the earth."
-Qigong Lessons from A Redwood Forest
by Sean McCann & Trang Duong
"Taichi as a martial art system was developed according to the Yin and Yang principles. It is called Taichi because of the hardness and softness inter-supportive relations, the internal and external coordination, the upper and lower body connection, the alternative placement of fast and slow movements, the mind and body unity, and the opening and closing rotations. All these elements are in accordance with the theories of Yin and Yang. Practicing persistently according to the requirements, in time one can hope to reach half Yin and half Yang - the true state of subtlety where "Taichi forms when he moves and when he moves taichi dissolves." At this state, the body should be filled with active energy. The energy from all meridians is interconnected and balanced. The whole body is a perfect union of external forms and internal energy, just like the manifestation of true roundness of Taichi."
-Chen's Taichi Old Frame One & Two
by Chen Zhenglei
"Tai chi ch'uan is a form of ch'uan. What is ch'uan? Ch'uan means fist; metaphorically, action. The word connotes power and control over one's own actions: the epitome of organized movement, the ultimate in protection of the self. To be expert in ch'uan is to have immunity - immunity from destructive external forces and from poor health. It is also to have the power to control the self. The uses of this power and the ends to which it is directed depend entirely upon the inclinations and interests of the individual; these may range from the purely physical to the philisophic and or spiritual."
-T'ai-Chi Ch'uan: Body and Mind in Harmony
by Sophia Delza