Tai Chi and Qigong are ancient Chinese calisthenics that combine graceful, stretching movements with slow, measured breathing. Research has shown that these exercises effectively reduce stress and anxiety, in addition to protecting against disease, aging and mental health problems. Each movement works as a self-massage for the internal organs, while improving circulation of blood and lymphatic fluids throughout the body. ‘Qigong’ is characterized by stationary, repetitive movements that focus on stimulating particular organs and muscle groups; ‘Tai Chi’ is a martial art style that is practiced as a moving meditation to improve balance, enhance neuromuscular memory and rejuvenate the whole body. Beginners who practice Tai Chi or Qigong immediately recognize a transformation in body and mind, including sensations of deep relaxation, increased vitality and improved physical coordination.
Benefits of Tai Chi at Kaikudo
In China, tai chi is revered as a ‘vehicle to immortality.’ This interpretation highlights the extraordinary health benefits of daily tai chi practice. In the west, tai chi and qi-gong are rapidly moving to the forefront of today’s healthcare news as a balanced exercise to support health and well-being. Tai chi has been used effectively to treat hypertension( 7 ), arthritis( 3 ), reduce the risk of falling( 6 ), and increase bone and muscle density( 4 ). Tai Chi has also been shown to have promising results for patients with cardiovascular disease( 8 ), cancer( 5 ) and diabetes. Tai chi applies the Chinese medical theory of intrinsic energy flow or “qi” in order to actively circulate bodily fluids, regulate organ function and return the body to homeostasis. Additionally, tai chi’s correct posture and slow, concentrated movements make it especially helpful as a rehabilitative therapy that reinforces the tendons and ligaments while increasing range of motion( 2 ).
In addition to physical benefits, tai chi can also enhance memory, sharpen mental concentration and improve psychological wellbeing( 1 ). The mind often holds onto stress and anxiety, even after we walk away from stressful stimuli. This mental “attack” translates into an over-active inflammatory response that changes our internal chemistry, resulting in depression, anxiety and fatigue, as well as increasing our risk for developing chronic diseases later in life. Without infection, inflammation needlessly drains essential energy reserves that would otherwise be used for daily body maintenance such as filtering toxins, regulating organ function and correcting genetic mutations. Tai chi breathing deeply relaxes the mind and body, allowing our internal chemistry to return to homeostasis and preserve a finely-tuned machine. As a result, practitioners enjoy more energy, better sleeping patterns and a happier disposition. Many other health benefits are still being studied today.
- Dechamps A, Lafont L, Bourdel-Marchasson I. Effects of Tai Chi exercises on self-efficacy and psychological health. Eur Rev Aging PhysActivity. 2007;4:25–32.
- Hong Y, Li JX, Robinson PD. Balance control, flexibility, and cardiorespiratory fitness among older tai chi practitioners. Br J Sports Med 2000;34:29–34.
- Lee MS, Pittler MH, Ernst E. Tai Chi for osteoarthritis: a systematic review. ClinRheumatol. 2008;27:211–218.
- Lee MS, Pittler MH, Shin B, Ernst E. Tai Chi for osteoporosis: a systematic review. Osteoporos Int. 2008;19:139–146.
- Mansky P, Sannes T, Wallerstedt D, et al. Tai Chi Chuan: mind-body practice or exercise intervention? studying the benefit for cancer survivors. Integr Cancer Ther. 2006;5:192–201.
- Wolf SL, Sattin RW, Kutner M et al. Intense tai chi exercise training and fall occurrences in older, transitionally frail adults: A randomized, controlled trial. J Am Geriatr Soc 2003;51:1693–1701.
- Yeh GY,Wang C, Wayne PM, Phillips RS. The effect of Tai Chi exercise on blood pressure: a systematic review. Prev Cardiol.2008;11:82–89.
- Yeh GY, Wang C, Wayne PM, Phillips RS. Tai Chi exercise for patients with cardiovascular conditions and risk factors: a systematic review. J Cardiopulm RehabilPrev. 2009;29:152–160.
Wudang Tai Chi
Wudang Mountain, popularized by the movie “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon,” is revered as the birthplace of internal martial arts. Wudang is the primary center for internal kung fu training, tai chi and qi-gong healing. It is both a physical and spiritual sanctuary rich in tradition and history. For over 2000 years, Taoist priest on Wudang Mountain have refined the practice of meditation, qi-gong, dao-yin (yoga) and internal alchemy, which solidified its position as the Mecca of ancient Taoist wisdom and mind-body practices.
Around 1100 A.D., qi-gong was further developed on Wudang Mountain by the sage Zhang Sanfeng, the grand assembler of tai chi. It is said that Zhang Sanfeng observed a magpie fighting a snake and immediately understood the yin-yang nature of combat; the essence of overcoming hardness with softness. Zhang Sanfeng integrated qi-gong, bagua theory, traditional Chinese medicine, internal alchemy and kung fu to create the first “internal” martial art called Tai Chi Quan (“Grand Ultimate Fist”). Zhan Sanfeng’s original 13 postures changed the platform in which kung fu and eventually other styles practiced martial arts. Previously, kung fu was only a self-defense system; Zhan Sanfeng made it an art form, a way of life, capable of generating internal power and insight. Although outwardly designed as a highly advanced martial art system, Wudang tai chi is in fact a direct path to health and longevity aimed at conserving jing, qi and shen: the three treasures of the Tao.
Knowing one’s tai chi roots and recognizing its lineage, not only honors the teacher and the wisdom that has been passed down from previous masters, but also validates that you are receiving authentic instruction. Kaikudo’s Tai Chi instructor, Michael Issa, has studied extensively under a tai chi master from Wu Dang Mountain, the birthplace of tai chi. Master Yun Xiang Tseng (Chen) was a child prodigy in Chinese martial and healing arts. At the age of six he was chosen by Wu Dang masters, Master Guo Gao Yi and Master Li Cheng Yu, to learn the ancient wisdom of Wu Dang tai chi, qi-gong, meditation and healing. He is of a 14th generation Wu Dang Zhang Sanfeng lineage and a 25th generation Longmen Taoist Priest, and is authorized to practice and teach the authentic Wu Dang Taoist teachings that have passed on in an unbroken living tradition for 700 years. He was given the Taoist name of Qing Zhen.
In 1990, he immigrated from the People’s Republic of China to the United States. He now resides in Ft. Collins, Colorado with his wife and three children. Chen has trained many thousands in America and over 10,000 people in China. He has a gift for making these authentic Taoist teachings understandable. He teaches the Wu Dang tradition of Taoism throughout the United States. He has appeared on various major network news stations and has been interviewed by newspapers as well as published articles in national magazines.
A true son of the Tao, Master Chen believes most strongly that only in having an open sharing affection for his students can he impart the great message of peace and hope that he has come to North America to deliver. His teaching is always informed by his knowledge of classical Chinese medicine and his extensive background in Chinese classical literature.
Currently, Chen is the President of Chi for Longevity, President and founder of the Association for Chinese and American Enrichment, Inc. a not for profit organization, and serves as director of Wu Dang Cultural Studies in America. He is the official representative of Wu Dang for the Wu Dang Taoist Association. Chen’s mission is to build the first Taoist Monastery in the U.S.
For more information, please visit Master Chen’s website at www.wudangtao.com.
Tai Chi Intro Course
The Tai Chi Intro Course is an 8 week course that reviews the fundamentals of tai chi and teaches the “Yang 10” form in a step-by-step process. This class is perfect for first-timers to get an introduction to tai chi. “Yang 10” is a very concise and compact form, perfect for small confined spaces. Because it can be practiced anywhere, we like to call it our “Travel Tai Chi” set.
Each Monday a new movement is introduced and repeated throughout the week at the beginner times. The “Movement of the Week” is then incorporated into the form with details on transition, flow and application with some review of the previous week. Gentle, stretching movements called “qigong” are also incorporated into the class to reduce stress and increase range of motion. Students are also welcome to attend our other Qigong classes.
Although you can start anytime, the first two weeks of the course is the best time for brand new beginners to start!
Beginner’s Form restarts every 2 months in January, March, May, July, September, and November
Come try a FREE try-out anytime!
Tai Chi 24
Level 2 teaches the Yang 24 form and is for students that have completed the ‘Tai Chi Intro Course.’ Yang 24 expands on the 10 form and is the most widely practiced Tai Chi form in the world. This class is used to add more detail to movements, incorporate breathing and qi-flow. We also review some of the martial applications to better understand each movement.
Tai Chi 10 and 24 Practice
This class is intended for students that desire an additional practice night for the 10 and 24 forms. This is NOT an instructional class, rather a class to emphasize the meditative and internal aspects of tai chi practice. The instructor will guide the form, however, they will not stop to teach the movements. Just breathe, relax and flow!
Form Instruction restarts every 4 months around Jan, May & Sep. Ask the instructor for exact dates.
Wudang Tai Chi
Wudang Mountain is the birthplace of tai chi and internal martial arts as designed by Zhan Sanfeng over 700 years ago. Originally designed for “warrior priests” on Wudang Mt., Wudang Tai Chi uses martial arts as an internal alchemy practice to heal the body and foster spiritual growth. The Wudang style demonstrates powerful rooting, waist power and internal cultivation methods. The style is both more martial and internal with great detail and subtleties.
Square-foot Tai Chi & Wudang 28
After students gain a firm understanding of the Yang 24 form, students may learn the advanced Wudang style of tai chi. Level 1 Wudang Tai Chi consists of forms derived from the Wudang 108 Tai Chi form. Level 1 will alternate between the Square-foot Tai Chi form and Wudang 28. Square-foot was designed by Master Yun Xiang Tseng (Chen) as a short, condensed form that can be practiced in a small confined space. The form is characterized by lots of twists and turns and is excellent for the kidneys! Wudang 28 is another modern derivative of 108 that was recently designed on Wudang Mountain for competition purposes. These forms take 4-6 months to learn.
Sanfeng 13 Tai Chi
Sanfeng 13 is the original Tai Chi form created by Zhan Sanfeng himself. From Wudang 13 all other tai chi and internal martial arts was born. This form was not taught outside of Wudang until recently. The “Advanced Practice” is for students that already know the form. Wudang Lv 2 is for students that want to learn the form from the beginning. Although 13 sounds small, this is a large form and takes roughly 1 year to learn.
Qigong for Health
‘Qigong’ is a moving meditation that serves as the perfect stress-management tool and mind-refreshing tonic after long hours of work. In addition to deep breathing and graceful movements, qigong uses concentrated imagery to guide qi throughout the body. In this way, qigong “washes” the body with the mind using intrinsic energy-flow to restore organ function and strengthen the mind-body connection.
Qigong movements originated from dao-yin stretching or “Taoist yoga.” They differ in that qigong’s soft movements focus on gathering qi to rejuvenate the body, whereas dao-yin aims to improve flexibility and release energy blockages by stretching the muscles, tendons and ligaments. Together, dao-yin warms-up the body for more efficient cultivation in qigong; and qigong gathers energy for more effective qi-flow during tai chi practice.
Saturday’s ‘Qigong for Health’ has open enrollment anytime. This class will focus on physical mechanics of each move, first, and then will focus on flow, breath and imagery.
Each qigong set will be followed by a Sunday seminar once-a-quarter that will provide time to explore deeper concepts and details of each move. Hand-outs and instructional material will also be provided at these seminars. See our ‘Events Calendar’ for our next seminar!
Monday – Thursday
6:30 – 7pm
Qigong (pr. ‘chee-gong’) has been practiced for thousands of years in China as a means of healing the body and revitalizing the spirit. There are many varieties of qigong ranging from standing meditation to gentle stretching to cardio and strength training. Kaikudo offers qigong as a ‘Pre-Class Warm-up’ to our other classes. This class is FREE for members.
Mondays: ‘Walking & Footwork’ will help students with balance, strengthen their lower body and learn how to move through the stances. We focus on tai chi stance walking, Tai Yi 5 Element walking, Bagua walking and Xing Yi stepping.
Tuesdays: ‘Qigong Relaxation’ includes gentle, easy-to-follow stretching movements that reduce stress, increase range-of-motion and improve health. This is the perfect rejuvenation of mind and body after a long day of work!
Wednesdays: ‘Qigong Fitness’ is a cardio and strength training class that was originally designed for martial artist called ‘Hard Qigong.’ Think Cardio-kickboxing with qi and meditation!
Thursdays: ‘Stances & Flexibility’ will use a variety of dao-yin stretches and stance work to improve one’s flexibility and structure. In addition to flexibility the class will strengthen muscle and is likely to make you sweat! This is pre-class can be attended individually, however, it is designed as part of the ‘Xing Yi’ class.