What is Tai Chi?

Tai Chi  is a Chinese martial art developed over 500 years ago. It has also been practiced for general health and fitness purposes since the 16th Century. Health benefits are derived from Tai Chi’s slow and gentle movements which help harmonize mind and body. This leads to improved mobility, flexibility and mental alertness. Tai Chi is a low impact exercise, suitable to people of all ages and fitness levels.

What is the difference between Tai Chi and other martial arts?

The fundamental method of Tai Chi practice is learning how to move using the internal core of the body. The focus is on using optimal body structure for generating maximum power with minimal tension. This discipline is essential to gain the full health benefits. Although it looks like a slow motion dance, proper Tai Chi uses the core muscle groups in concert with the legs and arms. Tai Chi is a whole body exercise – there are no movements where one part of the body moves in isolation. This is one of the main reasons that Tai Chi is practiced slowly – it forces you to pay attention to your body’s structure.

How many different styles of Tai Chi?

Most modern styles of Tai Chi trace their development to at least one of the five traditional schools: Chen, Yang, Wu/Hao, Wu, and Sun. While the image of Tai Chi in popular culture is typified by exceedingly slow movement, many Tai Chi styles have secondary forms of a faster pace. Pennridge Tai Chi teaches the Yang Family style of Tai Chi

What is the difference between Tai Chi and Tai Chi Chuan?

Tai Chi Chuan is the full name of the art. It translates to “Grand Ultimate Fist” or “Grand Ultimate Boxing”. It is more commonly known as Tai Chi. You may also see it spelled as Taiji or Taijiquan.

Are there weapons in Tai Chi like other Martial Arts Classes?

Absolutely! We offer classes in Tai Chi Fan, Cane, and Straight Sword (Jian). Learning weapons forms is a great way to improve your balance and strength. However, we teach these forms to students who have learned the beginner and intermediate forms. You should have a solid foundation in Tai Chi before you begin weapons training.

I have haven’t exercised in a while / I have poor balance / I’m not that flexible. Can I still take classes?

Because Tai Chi is low impact, it is a great exercise to start. The slow movements may be challenging, but the movements themselves provide flexibility, balance, and strength. Our Tai Chi classes focus on proper body alignment, which aids in balance improvement. As with all exercise programs, you should consult your physician before you take a class.

How often should I practice?

Practice a little every day. The most important thing is to practice with a sense of mindfulness and purpose. The harder you ‘try’ to learn the movements ‘perfectly’ the more elusive they become. The key point is to integrate them into your daily life. “Play” with the movements so they are enjoyable and the movements will become natural.

What if I can’t remember the form? I don’t want to practice it wrong.

The point of practice is to simply do one little thing over and over until it becomes part of your muscle memory. There is no right or wrong – especially at the beginning. You are coming to class for form correction, and you will learn and become more refined in your skills. Have fun in class and play with the information as you integrate it into your daily life. Follow two simple rules: don’t get hurt, and have fun!

What is Qigong?

Qigong (pronounced CHEE GONG) is an ancient Chinese system of postures, movement, and breathing exercises designed to enhance the flow of energy in the body. Its closest translation is “energy cultivation” requiring the integration of mind and body. Qigong exercises are intended to improve health, increase energy, revitalize the body and mind, and prevent or control disease.

Rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), qigong has been practiced for an estimated 5,000 years to help people maintain health and live longer. The ancient Chinese believed that certain body movements and meditation exercises could enhance different functions in the body. Qigong is often prescribed by Chinese doctors, in addition to medicine and acupuncture. In the 1980s, Chinese scientists began conducting studies on the health effects of qigong, and by the 1990s, the Chinese government had made it an official part of the Chinese health plan.

Pennridge Tai Chi teaches several Qigong forms in class and in workshops. In fact our Tai Chi forms integrate Qigong principles.

I’m sold. How do I start?

Find a class that fits your schedule. You can register for most classes here.