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.