On March 7, students from both Richmond Hill and Mississauga schools attended the annual Spring dinner celebrating Chinese New Year, year of the Rat.
On March 2nd 2019, students from both Mississauga and Richmond Hill studios came together to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Richmond Hill studio location. With close to 300 students, family and friends attending, this was the largest Spring dinner turn out ever. The program for the evening was rich with performances of all types demonstrating the great progress that students have made over the years.
Yang Style with Aileen
The evening’s performances began with a group of students who had only been learning Yang style for a few months to demonstrate just how quickly people can begin to learn the basic movements. Mastering tai chi may take many years but even after a few months, people feel confident enough to connect all the basic movements of the Yang style form together with some competence.
Qi Gong with Charlmane
Next, Charlmane lead a group through a variety of Qi Gong sets. Qi Gong has become an important part of our school’s curriculum as it offers an excellent complement to tai chi martial arts by rounding out the health and fitness activities of all our students.
[0:47] The moves being demonstrated now are from the popular qi gong set Eight Section Brocade. It is one of the most recognized forms of qi gong practiced today.
[1:14] This next move is called Wild Duck Swimming from the Ma Wang Dui Daoyinshu qi gong set. Ma Wang Dui is uniquely designed from the Traditional Chinese Medicine concept of meridians or energy lines which flow through our bodies. Each move is designed to guide “qi” or energy along a specific meridian line. There are 12 moves covering all 12 of the main meridians that run through our body.
[1:58] Da Wu which means “Big Dance” along with Ma Wang Dui were both officially recognized by the Chinese Health Qigong Association as qi gong sets in 2010. Da Wu uses simple yet graceful dance poses to promote the circulation of qi. Da Wu qi gong helps to unblock energy channels and soften joints.
[2:18] Five animals is among the oldest qi gong sets practiced today. Its roots originate from the Han Dynasty dating back more than 2000 years ago. Many believed it was created by the famous Chinese physician Hua Tuo ( c. 140–208). Each of the five animals in this qi gong set has two exercises. One of the two movements exercises the YIN and the other exercises the YANG internal organs of our bodies. This practice enhances our health by promoting the balance of YIN and YANG in our body.
Tai Chi Forms & Styles
The next few performances are students from the Richmond Hill advanced classes, showing the 3 main tai chi styles taught at the school: Chen Style, Yang Style and Wu Style.
[3:02] The first demonstration is Wu Style Tai Chi. The uniqueness of Wu style lies in its “Leaning but Straight” posture. Maintaining this posture throughout all the movements of the form promotes strong core and back muscles.
[3:40] The next form demonstrates Yang Style Tai Chi. The main characteristic of this style are the large ‘open’ and ‘close’ movements of the form. Yang Style is also highly adaptable for people with different physical abilities and this is one of the reasons why it has become the most widely practiced form of tai chi worldwide.
[4:12] Chen Style Tai Chi is the oldest of all the tai chi forms from which all other tai chi styles evolved. It retains most of its original martial arts moves which include low stances as well as powerful and explosive strikes, making it more physically demanding compared to other styles.
Yang and Chen Style Tai Chi
[4:44] The next group performing are students from Mississauga who put together a routine comprising of both Yang and Chen style moves intermixed. They demonstrate fluency and a good understanding of tai chi principles as they weave between Yang and Chen style movements. Both styles require movement and power initiating from the core, while maintaining an upright and centred posture at all times.
Wu Style Sword
[7:16] Wu Style Sword is based on Wu style tai chi chuan. Both footwork and posture all follow the traditional characteristics of the Wu style form. Combining Wu style’s leaning posture with the extra weight created when extending a sword, the Wu style sword form is demanding on the practitioner’s core body strength as well as the precision and timing of each movement. The movement of these students look fluid and graceful, but it’s their strong mental discipline and abundance of core strength which makes their performance look effortless.
A Duo Performance from Instructors May and Henry
The duo performance by instructors May and Henry was the highlight of the evening. They demonstrated two very distinct tai chi styles: Hao style and Chen style. Their impressively synchronized display of both soft and explosive movements is a testament to their advanced years of experience and training. Watch carefully to witness the subtle core movements which indicates May and Henry’s in-depth competence accessing and applying their qi energy as well as their ability to control the internal power of their body.
[9:39] The demonstration starts with Hao style tai chi. It is the least common among the five main tai chi family styles. This style consists of small external movements combined with extensive internal power to execute these movements correctly. This style is recommended for advanced tai chi practitioners who already have experience and competency with internal power.
[11:37] Push hands is an integral part of tai chi training. It is a two-person interactive exercise that tests the practitioner’s ability to incorporate key tai chi principles while practicing yin yang maneuvers interactively and in sync with a partner.
[12:12] Chen style tai chi is distinctly different from Hao style as internal power is expressed externally in the form of “fa jing” or “explosive power” movements. It is intriquing to watch and witness how power is directed by the two performers.
Chief Instructor Baosen Liang
[14:06] The final appearance is by Sifu Baosen Liang who is performing a mix of Wu, Chen and Yang style Tai Chi. Although each of the styles have their own unique characteristics, the core tai chi principles remain the same. These tai chi principles include power initiating from the inner core and cascading outwards, ‘qi’ energy sinking to the dantian, the co-existence of hard and soft movements and more. All of these core principles take many years of diligent practice to achieve the fluency demonstrated by Sifu Liang.
Tai Chi Line Dance
[18:40] The evening’s entertainment ended with a fun and light-hearted line dance routine choreographed to include some qi gong and tai chi moves. It definitely left everyone in a joyous mood for the rest of the evening. We were all proud of what we had learned whether our journey had been a few months or many, many years.
Co-authored by Baosen Liang and May Rahnema.
In September of 2017, our school organized a trip to Jamaica, staying at the Grand Palladium all-inclusive resort. Students, friends and family from the two schools in Mississauga and Richmond Hill participated.
This is the first time we have organized such an event and we were pleasantly surprised by the turnout. The spots filled up quickly and overflowed as people brought their friends and family along for the retreat and vacation. The primary goal for everyone was to take time off and enjoy a well-deserved vacation. The secondary goal was to share our love of tai chi and qi gong with friends and family outside of the normal classroom environment.
With everyone in a vacation mode, we were able to fully enjoy the practice of tai chi and qi gong among like-minded people. Here I’d like to share with you some of the activities that we had done as a group.
Qi Gong by the Beach
One of the very first activities we planned is to practice Qi Gong by the beach. The best time was before sunrise so we all got up and started our Qi Gong practice at 6:00 am in the morning. I must say it took a lot of commitment from everyone to get up so early while on vacation. The initial idea was to go for a dip in the water after Qi Gong, but most of us opted for breakfast J.
Tai Chi by the Pool
To practice tai chi with such a big group, we had to find a bigger and more leveled space. We also wanted the non-early risers to join in, so we found an area beside the pool just after sunset for our tai chi practice. It turned out quite well as other guests from the resort also joined in.
Tai Chi and Qi Gong on the Balcony
By the 4th day at the resort, we finished exploring the whole place and found a beautiful space on the Balcony that overlooks the ocean.
The fresh morning ocean breeze and quiet serenity on the Balcony made it a perfect place and we continued our daily practice here for the remainder of the week.
Qi Gong Vitality
Almost every morning, the early birds woke up before 6:00am to join Jenny for Qi Gong Vitality practice. The session starts when it is still dark and finishes with a beautiful sunrise. The gentle sounds of the ocean waves and the faint touch of the morning rays made each day a perfect start.
Six Healing Sounds Qi Gong (Liu Zi Jue六字訣)
Immediately after the Qi Gong Vitality session, we continue our practice with Six Healing Sounds Qi Gong. This Qi Gong set use breathing and sounds as the main component with simple guiding movements accompanying the breathing routines to regulate the functions of the liver, heart, spleen, lung and kidney and triple warmer. Here we are on the balcony, breathing in fresh morning ocean air, accompanied by our own vocals of the six healing sounds amidst the peace and quiet, it was mesmerizing.
Five Animals Qi Gong (Wu Qin Xi 五禽戲)
Following the Six Healing Sounds, we continue to practice another Qi Gong set. We have not had the opportunity to practice the Five Animals Qi Gong set during our regular qi gong classes, so I thought this would be a good time to introduce the set to everyone. There are a total of 10 moves associated with the Five Animals, 2 moves for each animal. Since this is a new set for everyone, we learned and added moves for one animal each day.
The Five Animals system was developed over 2000 years ago by a famous Chinese physician named “Hua Tuo”. It is based on traditional Chinese theories of the functions of internal organs and meridians, combined with the principles of Qi and blood circulation in our body. The exercises combine both external physical movements with internal mental focus to achieve good health.
Tai Chi Chuan (taijiquan 太極拳)
We finish the session for the day with tai chi practice. Each day we would pick a different tai chi topic to discuss or practice. The topics covered include: Tai Chi Basics, Yang Style Tai Chi, Chen Style Tai Chi, Tai Chi Push Hands and Tai Chi Fitness.
As we get close to the end of the session, the sun starts to really heat things up and we are definitely feeling it. Now’s a good time to adjourn to the pool for a cool morning dip or succumb to the delicious breakfast waiting.
Looking forward to the next retreat
This was one of the most enjoyable vacations that I’ve had in a very long time. I think it was the company that made it memorable and endearing. Even midway through the week, many of us were already thinking we have to do this again. Just writing this blog and looking through the pictures have brought back fond memories. I do look forward to our next retreat, perhaps 2019.
2017 Annual Spring Dinner
Performances by Students, Guests and Instructors
Mississauga Group photo