The Chinese martial arts have been traditionally categorized as internal and external arts. The internal arts taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan), xingyiquan (Hsing I Chuan), and baguazhang (Pa Kua Chang) -- focus the use of meditative practices and full body coordination. Each of these internal martial arts emphasizes specific characteristics that give them a unique flavor and appearance. All three styles include training in empty hand forms, weapons forms, two person drills, self-defense applications, free fighting techniques and power development. At the U.S. Kuoshu Academy, you can benefit from instruction in any of these arts. The dedicated and industrious student may choose to study several of these styles.
At the U.S. Kuoshu Academy, we teach a complete program in traditional Tai Chi Chuan (taijiquan). In the United States, these practices are sometimes called "Tai Chi." Our Tai Chi program is as compelling and sophisticated as the kung fu (external) program.
At the beginner level, the Tai Chi program includes stretching and warm up exercises, breathing exercises (called "chi kung" or "qigong"), and pre-arranged sequences of techniques which we call "forms." After developing skill in the beginner level, students start to take on paired exercises (called "pushing hands") to develop specific skills and learn weapon routines. Later, some Tai Chi students elect to participate in the school meditation curriculum, in order to develop a deeper experience in these Chinese arts.
Working the Yang Style Long Form of Tai Chi Chuan
Taijiquan emphasizes yielding to the oncoming force, neutralizing the attack, then counterattacking, giving it the feeling of "a needle hidden in cotton." The Taijiquan forms are done very slowly and are essentially a moving meditation. Students begin their taijiquan instruction with Yang style taijiquan. Other taijiquan styles available include Chen Pan Ling and Ancient style. Students are trained in qigong, pushing hands exercises, taijiquan free fighting, taijiquan weapons (broadsword, straightsword, long staff, spear, large broadsword and straightsword two person sets), and taijiquan two-man set.
In the background of our instruction, we emphasize the philosophies expressed in the Tien Shan Pai Motto "Virtue, Wisdom, Humility, Martial Arts". Students are expected to exhibit these qualities both inside and outside of the school.
The program is available for all interested children and adults, regardless of age or physical ability, and currently includes students from their teens to their eighties. Tai Chi is taught in group lessons but individual instruction is available with Grandmaster Huang, Chien-Liang for the interested student.
Tai Chi is appropriate for children and adults of all ages. Tai chi training will improve coordination, flexibility and balance.
Grandmaster Huang corrects the Tai Chi Broadsword
The level of physical activity required in Tai Chi is not as demanding as kung fu. If you are looking for a rigorous exercise program, you may wish to explore our Adult Kung Fu program. At the higher levels, certain Tai Chi training can be as physically demanding as kung fu training. If you are concerned that this program is not well suited to you that it is either too demanding or not vigorous enough you may also meet with one of our instructors for an introduction lesson and discuss your concerns at that time. While often viewed as an activity for adults only, the art of Tai Chi has also been shown to improve focus, attention, body image and overall self-esteem in young adults. Tai chi training will focus on improved coordination, flexibility and balance and is appropriate for all ages.
Tai Chi Benefits
There is a growing recognition that regular exercise program â€?30 minutes per day for five days a week â€?is important for people of all ages. Tai Chi can be a cornerstone of your fitness program or can complement your other activities, providing a much needed diversion from the monotony of other exercise programs. In addition, the intensity of a Tai Chi program can be tailored to your particular level of fitness and abilities. It's never too late to start improving your health through Tai Chi! While often viewed as an activity for adults only, the art of tai chi has also been shown to improve focus, attention, body image and overall self-esteem in young adults. Tai chi training will focus on improved coordination, flexibility and balance and can be appropriate for all ages. However, we recommend that youth under 15 years old consider a Kung Fu program.
Time Magazine, in their issue dated July 31, 2002, called Tai Chi the "perfect exercise." Follow this link for more information.
Some of the physical benefits reported by studying Tai Chi include:
- Increasing flexibility
- Improving muscle strength
- Strengthens the immune system response
- Increasing agility
- Reducing incidents of falls
- Lowering blood pressure
Some other benefits from martial arts practice include improvement of overall well-being in areas such as:
- Reducing stress
- Improving quality of sleep
Please follow this link for additional information on the benefits of a Tai Chi program, as reported by the prestigious Mayo Clinic.
The BBC the national broadcasting station of the United Kingdom has also covered the written about the benefits of Tai Chi, which it says "improves body and mind".
The Mayo Clinic also has a summary on the importance of regular exercise.
A recent Washington Post article describes the appropriate level of physical activity for both adults and children.