Tai Chi Chuan

Tai Chi is a time-tested set of exercises that gently improves the health of the internal organs and fosters greater balance and mind-body connection. Tai Chi Chuan is also a form of moving meditation and can also be an effective system of self-defense. By combining proper body alignment, breath control and mind set, Tai Chi helps return the body to the suppleness and energy of a child, while cultivating the mind and wisdom of an ever-evolving adult.

Basic Curriculum

Yang Style Tai Chi

Yang Style Tai Chi is the most popular style of Tai Chi in the world. Its creator, Yang Lu Chan, was hailed as “Yang the Invincible.” He attained the highest level of internal martial art skill, with control and sensitivity so advanced that he could neutralize any attack. "Yang the Invincible" won his name by defeating all opponents, including many famous masters, without hurting them.

Our basic Tai Chi curriculum progresses through the following:

  • Large frame version of the standard 88 movement set

  • 24 Yang Short Form,

  • Yang 40 posture traditional-detail form

  • Yang straight sword form

  • Yang broad sword form

  • Pushing Hands (several types)

  • Internal Self Defense

Grand Master Liu Xiao Ling teaching the Yang Chen Fu form in Shanghai China with students

Grand Master Liu Xiao Ling teaching the Yang Chen Fu form in Shanghai China with students

These (and other) forms help one to improve balance, timing, centerdness, breath-control, and visualization skills.  The effect on the inner body is to allow better blood circulation which assists in better Qi or life-force circulation. This increased Qi flow helps to remove blockages from the energetic circulatory system while allowing the various vessels and organs of the body to relax, open up, and work more efficiently. This causes a decrease in blood pressure and a general feeling of ease and relaxation.

Many schools simply teach a choreographed routine or two and call it a day. At Wu Shen Tao, however, we take the traditional view that Tai Chi is a subtle and muti-layered art and that choreography is only about 20% of the complete curriculum. To help our students truly understand the fundamentals of Tai Chi, we teach a complete program that includes weapons training, history, theory, pushing hands, self-defense, and energy cultivation.

As is with all of our programs, the pace of instruction depends upon the ability of the student to absorb the concepts. If a person learns slowly then their new information will expand on a slow but sure progression. For those who learn quickly, their advancement through the forms may be quicker than average but they then will spend more time on developing the body and coordination skills that lie beyond mere transitions and postures. Our aim is to have students display a substantial level of understanding at each level regardless of how few or how many physical skills they have been taught.

Advanced Curriculum

Wudang Style Tai Chi

Wudang refers to a mountain range in China which was known as one of the "5 sacred peaks." Wudang Mountain became a meeting place where many Taoist Masters converged to study and meditate in seclusion, or to study with some of the high level adepts in the area. The self defense aspects of Taoist study arose from the need to protect themselves from the wild animals and bandits of the area.

The Wudang  Tai Chi we teach at Wu Shen Tao has been passed down through the Wudang Long Men (Dragon Gate) lineage for several hundred years. In the 1930s, Abbot Xu Ben Shan of Wudang Temple, passed it to Pei Xi Rong, who became the secular Grandmaster of the Wudang Long Men lineage based in Shanghai, China. The system contains at least 3 forms including the Wudang Yuan Gong (original skills) form, the Long Wudang Tai Chi form, and at least one Wudang Tai Chi Sword form.

We teach theory, principles, form, qigong, energy cultivation, weapons, push hands and self defense as part of this training progression. This class is taught only by permission of the Chief Instructor. Instruction is taught on a semi- private and private lesson basis and is available only to experienced, serious participants who seek to make internal martial arts a part of their ongoing lives.

Chen Style Tai Chi

Chen Style Tai Chi is the predecessor to Yang Style Tai Chi.  Since the 17th century, this system has been taught and expanded upon from its home village of Chen Jia Gou, Henan Province, China. Master Chen Wang Ting, the 9th generation Chen Village leader, took older existing forms and codified them into 7 concise training methods and forms. He also stressed combining Taoist Medical, Philosophical, and Martial concepts into the system. Later, the 14th Generation lineage holder Chen Chang Xing further condensed the system down to its essence. Chen Chang Xing also taught the first outsider, Yang Lu Chan, who became the future creator of Yang Tai Chi.

The appearance of Chen Style is more dynamic than most other Tai Chi systems. It looks “tougher” than what most people normally think of as Tai Chi. As with all Tai Chi systems, the trick is to be fluid and soft while also being powerful and solid. This is only possible with good fundamental training in stance work and silk reeling/spiraling energy work. Otherwise, it can descend to being a good looking dance; without any real stability or focused power. We provide self-paced criteria in these areas so that one’s form and technique is authentic as well as, possibly, visually impressive.

Our Chen Style Tai Chi classes consist of stance training, silk reeling, empty hand and weapons forms, theory, history, principles, pushing hands, and self -defense applications.  It is a strenuous and powerful art which includes much conditioning, stationary stance work and body quality training. Its scope of variation is much greater than most other Tai Chi systems and it moves from slow to fast and hard to soft actions more freely. Its movements can be forceful or gentle as it embraces, more obviously, the myriad possible transformations of Yin and Yang. Usually a good grounding is required prior to studying this style unless the student is already experienced with other Tai Chi or internal martial arts systems.

Other Tai Chi

For advanced Tai Chi students, Master Ramos can offer instruction in additional styles such as  Sun Style Tai Chi, Water Boxing, and other empty hand and weapons forms. Deeper study of the history, theory, principles, and applications of Tai Chi is also an essential part of the Advanced Curriculum.