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Frequently Asked Questions

What are taichi and taijiquan?

Taijiquan is a martial art, philosophy and health practice originating in China that dates back more than 300 years. Taichi is the english translation for taijiquan. Taichi, often referred to as “meditation in motion,” is a low impact, continuous, elegant flow of slow movements and breathing techniques that are believed to have mental and physical health benefits by improving the flow of chi in the body. Taichi is considered an internal martial art focused on developing chi. There are five major styles in taichi: Chen, Yang, Wu, Wu and Sun.  Chen style taichi is considered the root of the other four styles. 

What is qi or chi?

Qi or chi is defined as “life force or energy.” It’s believed to be a current that runs throughout the body on paths called meridians. Practicing taichi is believed to improve this energy flow and improve a person’s physical and mental well being.

What is the difference between taichi and yoga?

Taichi originated in China as a martial art and yoga originated in India as a way to spiritually join the body and mind. Both arts work to improve the body and mind. The difference is in “the how.” The practice of taichi consists of a continuous series of slow, gentle movements and breathing techniques that aims to improve the flow of chi throughout the body resulting in greater physical and mental well being. Yoga consists of meditation, breathing techniques and holding poses for a period of time to help join the body and mind. 

What is qigong?

Qigong is a mind and body exercise form developed in China and Tibet. It uses meditation, breathing techniques and gentle, small movements to increase energy and enable the body to heal itself. Qigong is often practiced in conjunction with taichi and is another way to improve the body and mind.

What is the difference between taichi and qigong?

Both use gentle exercise, meditation and breathing techniques to improve health and well being. Qigong and taichi can be practiced separately or together to complement each other. Each enhances the flow of chi throughout the body and improves the mind and body.  

What can I expect to feel when practicing taichi?

It varies with each student. After a few lessons and by practicing regularly, many students begin feeling more relaxed, refreshed, clear headed and have a general sense of improved well being. They feel their legs become stronger, breathing is deeper and more efficient. Many become more in touch with their chi, feeling a warmth in the fingers, hands and arms when they practice taichi. As students progress, this warm sensation of circulating chi may be felt throughout the body. 

What are the health benefits of practicing taichi?

Generally speaking, practicing taichi improves physical and mental well being. Students also practice taichi for a variety of health reasons. Some of these are:

 

  • Doctors recommending rehabilitation for strokes, cardiac events, and other major health issues 

  • Improving symptoms of neurological disorders 

  • Improving balance and flexibility to prevent falls

  • Enhancing mental capacity and concentration

  • Improving respiratory function

  • Improving stamina

  • Reducing arthritis pain and increasing range of motion

  • Settling the mind through “meditation in motion”

  • Strengthening the waist, knees, legs, ankles

  • Reducing bone loss

  • Reducing blood pressure

  • Reducing stress - mind and body

 

How often should I practice taichi to get the health benefits?

We suggest practicing a minimum of three times a week, even if you’ve just learned one movement. Practicing that one movement for five to ten minutes helps you memorize and become comfortable with the movement, and begins your journey to gaining the health benefits. 

 

As you add movements, extending your practice time to 20 to 30 minutes at least three times a week gets your energy flowing through the whole body, benefiting the mind and body. 

How long does it typically take for a student to feel the energy flow?

How soon a student experiences the energy flow depends on the student. Some students feel it in their first week of practicing, others take longer. The energy flow sensation you’ll feel can present itself as tingling fingers, warm palms, warm arms, or warmth on some joints. It will feel different from the hot and sweaty feeling you get after exercising in other sports. 

How long will it take me to learn taichi? 

It depends on the individual. Some students pick it up quickly, others take a little more time. We teach taichi based on the average student - not everyone learns the same way or as quickly as the next student. We don’t move on to the next movement unless the majority is ready. If the majority aren’t ready to move on, we spend more time on that movement.

 

We also recommend practicing what you’ve learned outside of class even if you’ve just started. Practicing improves retention, builds confidence and understanding of the movements.

Is taichi hard to learn?

No, but each of us learn in different ways, so it might seem hard at first. It’s a new thing and can be hard to keep what you’re learning in your head and to practice taichi correctly. Some students pick it up quickly, others take a little more time. We teach taichi based on the average student - not everyone learns the same way or as quickly as the next student. We don’t move on to the next movement until the majority of the class is ready to move on.

 

We also recommend practicing what you’ve learned outside of class even if you’ve just started. Practicing improves retention, builds confidence and understanding of the movements.

What forms of taichi do you teach?

We teach several taichi forms at different times and locations throughout the year in the San Antonio area. For more information on what we are currently teaching, including form names and descriptions, please look at our class schedule

 

Are there studies available supporting the benefits of taichi?

Yes, please Click here to read more articles on the benefits of taichi.

Is taichi hard on the body?

Not if practiced correctly. Taichi is a low impact, continuous, elegant flow of slow movements and breathing techniques. We teach you how to properly move and to avoid improper movements that might put stress on your joints. We want you to practice the form properly to get the health benefits of taichi.

Can I learn taichi if I have a physical limitation?

You can. We will help you adjust your movements to a level you can comfortably do. Many people come to our classes to improve their mobility, balance or coordination, or to mitigate a medical issue like recovering from a stroke, surgery or cardiac event. We’re here to help you.

Do you offer taichi demonstrations of the forms you teach for community events?

We do! Our students have performed at the San Antonio Asian Festival and several health fairs, to name a few community programs we’ve been involved in. For more information on requesting a demonstration, please contact us.

What does each “level” mean in the class description?

Level 1 is the beginning. It’s where you start your taichi journey. We teach you the movements, explain the benefits of practicing taichi, and introduce you to what your chi feels like as it moves. You’ll learn taichi requires no force, no muscles, is low impact and is a slow and relaxed exercise. You’ll learn the physical and mental benefits come with practice.  Like any new exercise, your arms and legs may not want to follow your instructions for a movement. We encourage patience and practice. 

 

Level 2 is the refinement of what you’ve learned in Level 1 and focused on helping you become more in touch with your chi and its flow. We’ll help you smooth your taichi postures, movements and breathing techniques, so they become second nature and you are correctly practicing them.  We’ll help you understand why going slow and relaxing while practicing taichi is so important to the free circulation of your chi.  If you’re practicing regularly, you probably already feel some of the chi flow, likely a warm feeling in your hands, fingers, or the back of your arms. The refinements we teach help you become more aware of and expand the flow of your chi. The better the chi flow the more health benefits to your mind and body. 

What forms of qigong do you teach?

We teach several forms of qigong to complement taichi or be practiced on their own. The most common form we teach is Ba Duan Jin, translated as the Eight Pieces of Brocade. It consists of eight movements meant to stimulate the internal organs and enhance the energy and healing of the mind and body. 

What is chi development?

Qi or chi development is an exercise similar to qigong we use to get the energy moving in the body at the start of class. Many people get their first sensation of the energy flow while doing these simple exercises. It is especially helpful for new students to practice because it breaks down common parts of movements, such as hand and arm forms, and shifting your weight, associated with taichi.

How do you determine which forms you teach?

We teach many commonly practiced forms of taichi. For more information on what we are currently teaching, including form names and descriptions, please look at our class schedule

What form is best for a new student?

We offer multiple classes for beginners. For more information on what we are currently teaching, including form names and descriptions, please look at our class schedule.

 

If you have taichi experience or a martial arts background, and wish to expand your experience, we also teach a variety of advanced forms you may be interested in. Contact us for advice on what form might be best for you. 

 

When and where are your classes?

We teach several taichi forms at different times and locations throughout the year. For more information on what we are currently teaching, including form names and descriptions, please look at our class schedule. 

How many people are in a class?

Class size varies, but we typically have between 10 to 15 students in each class.

Is there a minimum number of students required in order to hold a class?

Yes, we need a minimum of five students in order to hold a class.

Can I take classes online?

We do offer some classes online. For more information on what we are currently teaching, including form names and descriptions, please look at our class schedule. 

Who typically makes up your students?

Our students come from all walks of life.  All have an interest in improving their health and sense of well being through practicing taichi.

How long is each class and how long is each semester?

Each class is one hour and each semester is approximately 3 months. We teach several taichi forms at different times and locations throughout the year. For more information on what we are currently teaching, including form names and descriptions, please look at our class schedule.

How often are classes given during the year?

We offer three semesters a year and each semester is approximately 3 months. For more information on what we are currently teaching, including form names and descriptions, please look at our class schedule.

Can I complete a taichi form in one semester?

You can complete the 8 Form in one semester. Each semester is approximately 3 months. Most forms take several semesters to learn all the movements of the form. For instance, one of the most popular forms we teach, the 24 Form, is taught in sections of eight movements per semester, so it will take you three semesters to learn all 24 movements. 

Do you offer private lessons?

We do offer individual private lessons upon request for both qigong and taichi. The class will be tailored for the student after our initial assessment. For more information, please contact us.

Do you offer classes or seminars introducing taichi and its benefits for organizational events?

We do offer short, informal lectures, testimonials, and a variety of demonstrations for local health fairs, classroom settings for students of all educational levels, hospital wellness days, and for private companies, as a way to increase awareness of the benefits of taichi and qigong and to promote these practices for improved health and enhanced well-being. For more information, please contact us. 

How do I enroll in a class?

For more information on how to enroll and what we are currently teaching, including form names and descriptions, please look at our class schedule.

How much do classes cost?

Prices vary depending on location and instruction. For more information on what we are currently teaching, including form names, descriptions and cost please look at our class schedule. 

How will I know if class is canceled?

In case of bad weather or an emergency, we will send a notification to the email address provided by the student.

 

What is your typical class structure?

  1. Warm-up. Every class begins with basic stretches designed to loosen joints and open energy channels throughout the body, thus ensuring an optimal class experience.

  2. Qi development. Each class progresses from warm-up to more more formal, prescribed movement by participating as a group in a specific qigong or taichi development routine. 

  3. Taichi form instruction. The majority of every class is spent learning movements specific to the taichi form, as identified in the class description. The forms are typically taught one step at a time, or one small group of steps at a time, with each class building on what has already been learned. The one or two new movements are explained in great detail, with a focus on hands, eyes, body, step, breath and mind. There is ample time allowed for repetition to help build muscle memory. Often smaller break-out sessions are arranged in some of the classes so students can repeat practice and problem-solve together, with guidance and supervision from the instructor. This strengthens group cohesion, as students at all experience levels share unique perspectives on how to learn or refine a move or set of moves. 

  4. Perform entire form. At the end of each class, students go through a large group practice for the whole form. Less experienced students are encouraged to follow along, even if they are not yet familiar with the entire form. This gives them a greater sense of how the parts they’re learning fit into the whole.

 

What to wear and bring to the class?

For every class, regardless of venue, students should:

  1. bring plenty of water; water breaks are part of every class

  2. wear loose, comfortable clothing

  3. wear flat shoes

For outdoor classes, students should:

  1. be aware of weather conditions for the season and dress accordingly

  2. bring sunglasses, sunscreen, bug spray, etc., for summer months

  3. bring gloves, hats, scarves and wear layers for warmth in winter months

  4. always watch your email for any schedule or location changes due to inclement weather

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