Tai Chi Chuan meets Tuesday 7:00 – 8:00 pm to learn and practice this meditative Chinese martial art/health and wellness system with Sifu John Curtis – firstname.lastname@example.org .
Chi Kung meets Thursdays 7:00 – 8:00 pm The Eight Pieces of Brocade – exercises which can be done by anyone regardless of age or condition.
Beginning on June 4, weather permitting, both Tai Chi Chuan and Chi Kung will meet at the John T. Myers Pedestrian Bridge.
Strange things are happening in the back room at the International Center. The people there are doing things like “white crane spreads its wing” and “golden pheasant stands on one leg” and even “snake creeps down.” Some strange animal worship class? No! It is the T’ai Chi Ch’uan class. What’s that? It is a very old Chinese martial art, now touted more for its health and wellness benefits. The people in the room are learning the William C. C. Chen short form of T’ai Chi Ch’uan, taught by Sifu John Curtis. Along with the form itself, the students learn some of the applications of the form; some history of the form, and China in general; some ethnography and cultural problems between these two cultures; some Chi Kung exercises (another Chinese health and wellness program); a little human physiology; and the pleasure of tea.
Most people have only been introduced to the “hard” styles of martial arts. T’ai Chi Ch’uan is a “soft” style. The “hard” styles tend to emphasize strength, power, and offense. T’ai Chi Ch’uan is the “thinking man’s (or woman’s) martial art. It was created by monks and scholars, men of peace, who needed to defend themselves, but abhorred violence. In more recent times, T’ai Chi Ch’uan has been taught as a health and wellness program throughout China and the rest of the world. It has been proven to be helpful in reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, increasing cardio-vascular fitness, improving balance, improving problem-solving ability, and, in general, improving one’s “quality of Life.” The good news is that regardless of why one starts T’ai Chi Ch’uan, you “buy one and get one free” because you soon learn that neither one works, as well, without the other.
Another way of looking at martial arts, in general, is to think of them as “external” and “internal.” “External” styles are also “hard,” while “internal” styles tend to be “soft.” Most forms of “karate” are external/hard. Gung Fu, which we usually incorrectly call Kung Fu in English, can be hard or soft. T’ai Chi Ch’uan, Bagua (Pakua), Hsing-yi, Liu He Ba Fa (water form), and a few other styles are internal or “soft.”
If you look at the participants in most “karate” schools they tend to be male, and specifically young males. The hard styles do not seem to offer as much to women and older participants. However, the self defense aspects of T’ai Chi Ch’uan are available to everyone regardless of age, sex, or brawn. Unlike the external styles, it does not cause joint damage and broken bones, and can even alleviate existing conditions. Much of the emphasis in T’ai Chi Ch’uan is mental, and the mental aspect of self defense is initially the most important.
In T’ai Chi Ch’uan there is a lot of time spent of the concepts of softness, sensitivity, and yielding. There is also a lot of time spent trying to lose the ego and the desire to win, or “investing in loss.” Women’s bodies, in general, are soft, sensitive, and yielding—all T’ai Chi Ch’uan attributes. Women find it easier to “invest in loss” and to lose their ego. Professor Cheng Man-Ch’ing, one of the greatest Masters of this century said that women were particularly suited to the study of T’ai Chi Ch’uan. Proportion-ately, you will see more women practicing T’ai Chi Ch’uan than most other martial arts.
Another group frequently left out of other martial arts is the older person. However, T’ai Chi Chuan is sometimes taught specifically for older citizens. The Bloomington Y.M.C.A. has such a program. There is a good reason for emphasizing the benefits of T’ai Chi Ch’uan. In two recent studies reviewed in the “Journal of American Geriatrics Society” and sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), seniors (in the study, 70 and older) who practiced T’ai Chi Ch’uan reduced their risk of falling by 46.5%. They had better balance and were more confident in their ability to get around. Age is no barrier to the study of T’ai Chi Ch’uan. One of the participants at the Y is 77.
T’ai Chi Ch’uan emphasizes the harmony of body and mind, leading to and increase in flexibility, vitality, martial arts ability, and an increased power of attention. All that results in a more vibrant state of health, a calm relaxed state of being, and (we always hope) an end to internal conflict.
If you have questions please contact the International Center at 523 Russell St, 765. 743.4353 or John Curtis at 765.418.2112.