Tai Chi Ch'uan is practiced either as an advanced martial art or for its health benefits. To jump right into the health and wellness aspects of preliminary tai chi training, such as improved coordination, balance, mind-body connection, and mental focus, try our Tai Chi Foundations class.
Tai Chi Ch'uan, as a martial art, was traditionally taken up by kung fu masters after many years in the harder style martial arts. It blends close-range self-defense techniques for unbalancing an attacker with deep breathing, slow, flowing exercises for lower body and core strength & joint mobility, and meditative concentration. Though tai chi is practiced slowly, tai chi masters are renowned for their blinding speed in application, as the muscles are trained under conditions of deep relaxation and focus.
Tai Chi in the Modern World
Tai Chi was created for fighting. However, the same things that make it a deadly self-defense system make it appealing to today's health and fitness conscious person. While some might add some benefits or alter their order of importance, nobody could argue with the following attributes being part of the Tai Chi adventure:
- Ability to completely relax the musculature.
- Ability to clear the mind and become acutely aware of your internal and external environment.
- Achieving a stong, balanced, stress- and tension- free posture
- Increasing the unhindered flow of energy throughout the body, with a systemic increase of blood flow.
- Defend oneself with minimal use of effort by applying the concept of accommodation (yin/yang)
It's clear: only the #5 attribute pertains solely to martial arts. The other 4 goals of Tai Chi are desirable to nearly everyone human alive. They were critical to martial arts mastery 800 years ago and they are critical to life mastery now.
The Internal Arts of Shaolin-Do
Shaolin-Do offers the most comprehensive curriculum of traditional internal martial arts in New Orleans. Tai Chi is the best-known of the internal arts, the yielding or soft style. The internal art of Pa Kua Chang teaches to evade attacks through a fluid, circling pattern of movements including steps designed to throw an opponent simply by coiling and uncoiling the body. At a higher level, the entire system of Hsing Ie Chuan (Fist of Will) teaches the student to explode their internal power into every strike. There are also internal-style weapons like swords, daggers, and fans. Finally, meditation and chi kung training round out the curriculum by helping students control their breathing, develop a greater awareness of their body, and maintain a calm and controlled mental attitude.
The internal arts require decades to master and the constant addition of new material (listed below) at the Shaolin-Do school ensures that each student remains interested and challenged for a lifetime. Like the famous yin/yang symbol, the balance of our two unique strategies, Shaolin Kung Fu and Tai Chi, creates a powerful force and well-rounded martial artist.
Learning Tai Chi at Shaolin-Do
We recommend that students interested in the martial aspects of tai chi follow the traditional path of martial arts study and start in the kung fu program before learning tai chi. Studying kung fu will give you a jump start on your physical fitness and self-defense skills and provide you with the basic skills of a martial arts practice before tackling the subtleties of the internal systems. Internal arts become a mandatory part of the kung fu curriculum as you advance into the level of brown and black belt.
If you do want to start with tai chi, we recommend our Tai Chi Foundations class, beginner workshops, or private instruction.
In our ongoing Tai Chi Foundations class, instead of jumping ahead to the martial aspects of tai chi, we focus on the core principles of the art like meditation, breathing, loosening the joints, grounding, and short segments of Tai Chi forms that can be learned and practiced in a single class. These are the basic building blocks of a tai chi practice. This is perfect for absolute beginners as well as people who are more interested in the health aspects of meditative movements, than on tai chi as a martial art.
From there, students can move into the Tai Chi Curriculum class to focus more on long forms and begin learning the entirety of the 24-posture form. This class will also feature more open practice, stretching, and vigorous martial applications.
Tai Chi forms can also be learned when we periodically offer 6-8 week workshops. These typically teach the beginner 24-posture form, the most popular tai chi form in the world. However, other, more advanced forms are sometimes taught as well.
Finally, the 24-posture form, or any of the Shaolin-Do curriculum of internal arts (listed below) can also be learned in roughly 4-8 sessions of private instruction with one of our black belt instructors.
Ongoing Tai Chi Class Schedule
Tai Chi Foundations: Saturdays, 9:30-10:30am.
Tai Chi Curriculum: Thursdays, 6-7:15pm.
Contact us for information on beginner workshops and private instruction.
Internal Martial Art Forms
Chi Kung (qigong) and Internal Training Exercises
- Damo's I Ching Chings (1-49)
- Single and Double Pushing Hands
- Small & Large Circle Breathing
- Huo Tien Chi and Shien Tien Chi Meditation
- Iron Shirt Chi Kung
- Hua Tuo's Five Animal Chi Kung
- Eagle Claw Chi Kung