What is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi Chuan is a unique, centuries-old Chinese exercise that integrates, into one system, elements for health improvement, a moving meditation and a martial art. Based on a sequence of 108 slow naturally flowing movements, the Tai Chi set is ideal for all ages and abilities. It is designed to relax the body and mind, to improve concentration, and to develop flexibility and strength. The gradual stretching and slow turning motions, incorporated in each of the movements, result in a loosening of the joints and tendons, facilitate natural movement of the spine (by relaxing points of tension in the body) and allow for the free circulation of the internal energies (jing, chi and shen). Tai chi can assist in the integration of the mind and body, leading toward harmony between ourselves and the universe.
Learning the Tai Chi Set
The Introduction to Tai Chi course is the starting point to learn the Tai Chi set. New Introduction to Tai Chi classes start every month in various locations around the city. The best way to become aware of upcoming courses is to subscribe to the London Branch newsletter – The Plum Blossom News or periodically check the Open House listing on the website.
Open House – Free Class
One of the best ways to find out if Tai Chi is right for you is to attend an Open House. At the Open House you will meet the instructor and see a demonstration of the 108 move Tai Chi set. You will be invited to join a sample class with the others at the Open House to learn and experience the first few moves of the set. The instructor will be happy to answer any questions or address any concerns you may have.
Registering for a Class
New members are asked to complete a registration form either at the Open House or at the first class they attend. New members can also complete the online membership process and sign an online registration form. Members pay a monthly membership fee which is explained under our dues categories.
Joining a Class that has Started
New members can join a class that has already started. Within the first month of the class starting it is feasible to catch up with the others in the group. The pace of learning is slow in the first month and progress through the 108 moves has not gone too far.
Attending Additional Classes
As a member you are welcome to attend as many classes as you wish to participate in. It should be understood that not all Introduction to Tai Chi classes are at the same point in the sequence. The more often you are able to practice the sequence, the easier it is to remember the order of the set.
Continuing Tai Chi Class
The next step after completing the Introduction To Tai Chi class is to join a Continuing Tai Chi class. The members in the Continuing class cover a wide range of experience and knowledge from only a few months to many years (and decades!). The Continuing class has a focus on continuous learning regardless of where you are on the learning continuum. The Continuing instructors are the most experienced instructors and are able to adjust your Tai Chi form to maximize the health benefit of the movements.
Getting More Information
The best source of information about Tai Chi is your instructor. If they don’t have an answer they will know who to ask. This website has some additional resources that can provide some background information. General information can be found in the About section. The health benefits of Tai Chi are also described under the About section. A discussion of the different arts (including the martial aspects) that Mr. Moy taught can be found under the About section. We have collected answers to commonly asked questions under the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section. Or if you have a specific question, please contact us using any of the channels on the Contact page.
Tai Chi Origins
The development of Tai Chi Chuan as a formal system of movement is attributed to Zhang Sanfeng (張三丰) / Chang San-feng (張三豐) who was a semi-mythical Chinese Taoist priest (associated with the late Song, Yuan and Ming Dynasties). Zhang was indifferent to fame and wealth. After declining an official position and dispatching his property to his clan, he traveled around China to live the life of an ascetic. Zhang spent several years at Hua Mountain before settling on the Wu Tang Mountain.
Tai Chi Chuan (太極拳) is an internal Chinese martial art practiced for both its defense training and health benefits. The term tai chi chuan literally translates as “supreme ultimate fist”, “boundless fist”, “great extremes boxing”, or simply “the ultimate”. The concept of the Tai Chi (“supreme ultimate”) appears in both Taoist and Confucian Chinese philosophy, where it represents the fusion or mother of Yin and Yang into a single Ultimate, represented by the Tai Chi symbol.
Mr. Moy’s Tai Chi lineage is from the Yang family style (楊氏) tai chi chuan. The Yang style and its many variations is the most popular and widely practised style in the world today and the second in terms of seniority among the primary five family styles of tai chi chuan. Mr. Moy based his form on the traditional 108 Yang style which traces its source back to Chang San-feng, the 11th Century Taoist monk who systematized Tai Chi Chuan. The Tai Chi set has 108 moves because the number 108 represents the 36 Celestial Deities and 72 Terrestrial Deities. This number was divined by Chang San-feng himself. The number 108 represents the yin and yang essences in our body. Performing the 108-move set symbolizes the union of the yang (Celestial) and yin (Terrestrial) elements in our body. 108 represent completeness. Any number less than 108 means the imbalance of yin and yang and the lack of completeness. On the contrary, the full 108 symbolizes the harmonious balance of yin and yang and therefore leads to health. The union of all yin and yang elements represents the Return to the holistic and undifferentiated state of the Tao.
Master Moy adapted the set by adding more turning and stretching in order to open the student’s joints and massage the internal organs. Master Moy also borrowed from the internal arts of Lokhupbafa, XingYi and BaGua and added elements of Taoist and Buddhist Chi Kung practices to modify the Tai Chi set.
The Tai Chi set developed by Mr. Moy incorporates the five animals (Dragon, Tiger, Leopard, Snake and Crane). These animals are present in each move to varying degrees to work on transforming the physiology while taming the heart. Taoist principles of internal alchemy and Confucian principles of behaviour are also integrated into this system as developed by Master Moy. The practice of the movements has a profound impact on the health of the person.
The following are arts that Master Moy introduced as tools to help with maintaining and improving your health. These arts challenge a student to become a beginner again to learn something new. The knowledge of the Tai Chi set is beneficial to aid you in learning the new sets (but not strictly required).
Meditation – see “About Meditation”
Lok Hup Ba Fa – see “About Lok Hup”
Pa Qua / Baguazhang (八卦掌) is one of the major Chinese martial arts of the Wudang School. It is also one of the three main internal styles, or nèijiā. Baguazhang literally means “eight trigram palm” referring to the trigrams of the Yijing (I Ching), one of the principle texts in the Taoist canon.
Hsing-I Chuan / Xingyiquan (形意拳) is from the Shaolin Five Fist School and known as one of the major “internal” (Wudang) Chinese martial arts (an even broader term encompassing the internal arts is nèijiā). The word translates approximately to “Form/Intention Boxing”, or “Shape/Will Boxing”, and is characterized by aggressive, seemingly linear movements and explosive power. There is no single organizational body governing the teaching of the art, and several variant styles exist.
Yi Quan / I Quan (意拳) Mind Boxing, also known as dacheng quan (大成拳) Great Achievement Boxing, is a martial art system which was founded by the Chinese xingyiquan master, Wang Xiangzhai (王薌齋). Qian introduced the idea that further exploration of Zhan Zhuang (standing practice) might be fundamental to the development of Yiquan.
Additional information on the forms is available on the National Website.