Learning Tai Chi with Longwater
All Tai Chi (pronounced tie-jee and sometimes spelt taiji or taijiquan) styles have more in common with each other then they have differences. The key to a fine style or 'form' is that it is a good container for the deeper internal principles it was designed for, just as a fine champagne requires a strong bottle to contain it. There are 5 main styles - Yang, Wu, Chen, Sun and Combination.
A Tai Chi form can be either large, medium or small 'frame', which dictates the amount of space required to perform it as well as the actual physical extensions involved. It can also be 'short' or 'long', which simply describes the number of individual movements the form contains. Where Yang-style forms are traditionally medium to large frame and develop very high quality martial skills and qigong (pronounced chee-gong: internal subtle energy work), many of the Wu-style forms, and in particular the style Longwater Tai Chi teaches, are small frame and perfect containers for health chi gung and meditation. That is not say these small frame forms are not good for martial arts - simply that they are more condensed and obtaining a high level of skill requires greater dedication.
Longwater Tai Chi teachers Jane and Patrick Foley have over 50 years experience between them in studying and teaching various forms, including Chen, Wu, Yang and Sun styles studied with top quality masters like Bruce Frantzis, Sam Masich and Dr Paul Lam. Their assistant teacher Gina Davenport specialises in the Sun style based forms taught by Dr Lam. However many of our students start their journey not directly studying a traditional form with us, but rather learning principles of balnce and movement via our hugely popular Waves and Clouds sessions.
Choosing the right approach for you is dependent on what your requirements are, but whatever you choose we will always make sure you are comfortable with the learning process, which we define in 3 distinct stages:
- Outer - Understanding the outer form - it's physical alignments and adherence to the Tai Chi principles.
- Application - Applying the structure to application - this means understanding the Tai Chi energies associated with the posture and being able to manifest them with an external connection (i.e. partner).
- Inner - Integrating neigong into the postures and movements (transitions). After much practice, you will begin to learn how to use the form to deeply relax, heal and meditate.
Modified 64 Wu Style
New to our curruculum is the study of the Wu Style Modified 64 form, developed by our teacher Brian Cooper from the traditional 108 'reference' form taught by Wu Jian Quan (1870-1942). Consisting of 64 moves, the form embraces every essential posture of the parent form, without the repetitions.
Traditional Wu Style
The Wu style of tai chi is characterized by smaller frame movements - it is the perfect form for those who practice tai chi for health, meditation and especially for those over 50 or just starting a tai chi practice. Wu-style Tai Chi is particularly beneficial for facilitating the healing of injuries, especially back problems.
Five Section Taijiquan
The Five Section Taijiquan program material is designed to be flexible and fun, with the idea that students who are enjoying themselves will stick around to take on the more difficult challenges. It is possible to move through the material in many ways following different lines of reasoning. Its design makes it possible, for example, to use this material to best serve the needs of each group and the individuals in it. This is what is meant by 'modular'.
Tai Chi for Arthritis
Tai Chi for Arthritis (TCA) is a specially designed programme by Dr Paul Lam (a family doctor and tai chi master) for people with arthritis. The special features of this unique programme are that it is easy to learn, enjoyable, and provides many health benefits in a relatively short period of time.