Internal Energy Arts: Tai Chi Chuan, Qi Gong, Ba Gua
Tai Chi Chuan - "Grand Ultimate Fist"
Tai Chi Chuan is an ancient Chinese art of self-defence, conceived as a series of soft, slow, and flowing sequences of movement specifically designed to cultivate and direct the internal power that circulates through one's system, which improves the practitioners' health, and provides a source of energy for self defence. This internal power, the foundation to all life is termed qi and is unlike external or physical energy. Qi is formless, limitless, and most importantly for self defense, can be applied in a much more focused, and concentrated manner than physical energy.
The twofold aim of the practice of Tai Chi is to increase one's qi and to learn how to harness it. Tai Chi Chuan is rooted in the Taoist philosophy which dates back to the fourth century AD or further. "Yin and Yang in succession, the Tao Te Ching says, or a flow from passive to active or vice versa, "is called the Tao." To this, Fu Yu Lan later added that, "if one understands these laws, (the Tao), and regulates one's actions in conformity with them, one can turn everything to one's advantage."
To generate great power you must first totally relax and gather your strength, and then concentrate your mind and all your strength on hitting your target. By harnessing all the energy available, and delivering it in a focused and concentrated manner, one is able to propel a much larger and weightier opponent through the air, with a blow that commenced only one inch away from the opponent's body. This "one inch punch" is a fine example of the power of qi, and this is why Tai Chi Chuan was called the "Grand Ultimate Fist." The styles of Tai Chi Chuan we teach are Chen, the oldest style in existence, and the Beijing Short Form, which is the set that is most practiced throughout the world.
Qi Gong - "Working and cultivating qi"
Qi Gong (also written as chi kung) means working on your intrinsic energy (suggests building or cleansing it). Qi Gong is the study of the energy of the universe. There are three general types of energy: Qi Tian (Heaven Qi), Dih Qi (Earth Qi), and Ren Qi (Human Qi). The qi or energy which flows through our bodies is influenced by the energies of the earth and heavenly bodies. In order to have a healthy and harmonious life we need to be in balance with the energy of the universe and in balance unto ourselves. Through the practice of Qi Gong one is able to strengthen and balance qi circulation and slow down the degeneration of the body --gaining not only health, but a longer, happier life.
Stress relief is an essential part of overall fitness and wellness. There can be no doubt that "solace comes through repose." However, in a hectic fast paced lifestyle, we sometimes need a more dynamic means or a variety of means to reduce and eliminate our high levels of stress. Similar to a computer that needs defragmentation to run optimally, through qi gon practice, we are essentially defragmenting the chaos that goes on in our head throughout the day.
Ba Gua - "Eight Trigram Palm"
Ba Gua (sometimes written Pa Qua), like Tai Chi Chuan, is rooted in Taoism and is practiced to cultivate the Tao (manifest heaven and earth and order yin and yang). Ba Gua is also similar to Tai Chi Chuan in that they are both internal schools of Chinese boxing (Niei Chi).
Ba Gua shares roots with Tai Chi Chuan that go back to the Taoist monasteries, but its modern protagonist is Tung Hoi Arnan (1789-1879). Many stories about Tung have been passed down. One tells of how he was sitting in a chair leaning against a wall when the wall collapsed. His disciples, fearing that he had been buried alive, rushed in looking for him, and found him sitting in the same chair, leaning against another wall. A similar anecdote tells of how he was napping one autumn day and, as the air was quite chilly, his disciples picked up a sheet and quietly tried to cover him. When they put the sheet down, however, there was no one there! "What's the matter with you?" asked Tung from the window where he was sitting. "Why did you try to startle me?"
The primary goals of Ba Gua are to harmonize one's vital energy and strength and to understand the changing nature of the universe. Its physical manifestation is quick anticipatory movement away from danger behind one's opponent.
"When it is time to be still, then stop. When it is time to act, go ahead."