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For Beginners

A Taste of Tai Chi

Tai Chi makes the weak person strong, the strong person gentle; the old person youthful, and the young person wise.

Always wondered about Tai Chi, but don’t know where to start? This is a perfect introductory short program that gives individuals a chance to experience the joys and benefits of Tai Chi, without having to commit to a full 2 or 4 month course. ATOTC introduces the essential Tai Chi processes of Quiet Standing, Rooting, Pulsing, and Mindful Movement, and are designed to be appropriate for students of all ages and levels of physical ability.

You can sample your first class for free. After that, you can purchase a special Introductory 3-Class Card for only $29. (Continuing ATOTC cards can be purchased at $49 for 3 classes, $99 for 7 classes).

Just show up. Wear comfortable clothing (no heels or hard soles, but socks are okay!). Our instructors are experienced working with students from teenage to elderly, and with all variations of physical capacity. Expect to learn, relax, and feel good!

Tai Chi 101: Foundations

This program, developed by BTC master-instructors, enables students to “enter the gate” of authentic Tai Chi, with a complete program of basic practices (jibengong) that are the foundation for all other Tai Chi form work and two-person practice. The program will introduce the fundamental Tai Chi principles of Rooting, Releasing, Pulsing, Spiraling, Alignment, and Flow through Stance and Posture work, Tai Chi Walking practices, and selected movements from the classical Yang and Wu Tai Chi forms.

Dragon and Tiger Qigong I

This 1,500 year old qigong contains seven movements, that target the body’s particular organ system and core meridians. In Level I, the sequence is learned, improving overall health while increasing the ability to sense and move qi. In Level II, energy flows are strengthened, breathing deepens, and practitioners gain emotional calm, mental clarity, and greater aliveness.

Tai Chi for Healthy Aging and Better Balance

The “Third Age” of life  confers the wisdom of experience, but too often accompanied by a diminution of vitality, balance problems and debilitating falls, fear and anxiety. This course, designed specially by Executive Director Don Ethan Miller and BTC senior staff, distills the most beneficial practices from Tai Chi, Qigong and other internal arts to restore energy, reduce stress and fear, and improve balance.  It enables seniors and others with balance and/or other medical issues to learn rooting, pulsing, centering, and flow, and to increase their energy levels and overall well-being, without having to memorize fixed and rigid patterns. or forms.  Instead, we will learn to restore natural posture, breathing, movement capacity, adaptability, and life force.  Specially priced at 50%of normal class fees as a service to our honored and respected senior community. (Additional scholarships may be available).

Energy Gates Qigong

Energy Gates is a foundational qigong suitable for beginners and advanced students alike. Standing (Zhan Zhuang) is a stationary practice that teaches proper body alignments and awareness of the subtle energetics within and just outside of the body. Cloud Hands (Yun Shou) is a single movement practice that embodies major elements of taiji and harmonizes the body’s yin and yang energies. Each of Three Arm Swings energizes one of the Three Burners (San Jiao) while relaxing arms and legs and providing aerobic benfits. The unique Daoist Spine Stretch gently increases space between the vertebrae and releases tension from the spine and back.

Stand Walk Sit Breathe

Less is more.  There are no secrets. Simple practices, done mindfully and with the right energetics, can often have the most powerful effects.  In this class, we will take the most basic and universal human actions–standing, walking, sitting, and breathing–and explore them as profound forms of meditation and energy-cultivation.  Methods distilled from Tai Chi, Yiquan, Ermei Qigong, KuntaoSilat, Bagua, and Ki-Aikido. Open to all levels. You will gain calmness, vital energy, and well-being, whether you are a beginner or a 20 year practicioner.

For Returning Students

Tai Chi 201: Intermediate Non-Form Curriculum

Once a basic foundation in Stances, Rooting, Pulsing, and Flow have been established, authentic Tai Chi training continues on two tracks: the learning of choreographed sequences of moves, called Forms; and the further development of essential Tai Chi skills and qualities, often collectively termed Gong.

This non-form Gong training includes:

  • The repetition and exploration of single movements (Dan Lian) to develop their strength, fluidity, chi flow, variations, and practical use;
  • Deeper exploration of posture holding for root, structural integrity, calmness, and inner strength;
  • Special exercises to develop the “Eight Powers” (Ba Fa), which are the eight primary Tai Chi jings (energies)of Peng, Lu, Ji, An, Cai, Lieh, Zhou, and Kao;
  • Two-person practices to enhance structure, root, sensitivity, and jings;
  • Introduction of the use of equipment (balls, rocks, weights, staves, etc) to enhance and augment the empty-hand training.

As all of these skills and qualities are then woven into the practice of Forms, the forms can more fully become expressions of Tai Chi essential principles and energies, which is their true purpose.

Tai Chi for Healthy Aging II

Tai Chi is rightly considered one of the healthiest forms of exercise for men and women of older ages. It improves balance, increases flexibility, deepens breathing, and strengthens the legs and the spine. At the same time, it reduces stress, and promotes ease and relaxation in movement. This class will include all the fundamental practices of Tai Chi, found in other BTC classes, in a format and at a pace suitable for seniors. No experience necessary.

Wu Style Short Form I

In the Intro level we teach a short version of the traditional form which was created by Master Bruce Frantzis, founder of Energy Arts and a lineage holder in the traditional Wu Style Tai Chi. It takes 4 to 5 minutes to do, and requires very little space. We teach it in three seven-week sessions, and we start a new class every four months. We emphasize clear alignments so that the structure holds the body up and it can relax more easily. Since the shoulders are one of the first places tension goes to in the body, we practice releasing the arms and shoulders. The arms are rounded, but the elbows are released so they can sink and help open the shoulders. Knees are very delicate joints, so a lot of attention is given to how to align the knees and feet and hips to avoid injury.

Dragon and Tiger Qigong II

This 1,500 year old qigong contains seven movements, that target the body’s particular organ system and core meridians. In Level I, the sequence is learned, improving overall health while increasing the ability to sense and move qi. In Level II, energy flows are strengthened, breathing deepens, and practitioners gain emotional calm, mental clarity, and greater aliveness.

Energy Gates and Beyond

A continuation of: Energy Gates is a foundational qigong suitable for beginners and advanced students alike. Standing (Zhan Zhuang) is a stationary practice that teaches proper body alignments and awareness of the subtle energetics within and just outside of the body. Cloud Hands (Yun Shou) is a single movement practice that embodies major elements of taiji and harmonizes the body’s yin and yang energies. Each of Three Arm Swings energizes one of the Three Burners (San Jiao) while relaxing arms and legs and providing aerobic benfits. The unique Daoist Spine Stretch gently increases space between the vertebrae and releases tension from the spine and back.

Chen Style 24 Form Fundamentals

An essential foundational training (jibengong) practice from the Hong Jun Sheng Tai Chi lineage, the 24 Foundation Training Form will produce fluid, light, and lively whole body movement through the repeated and precise drawing of positive and negative circles, and combinations of them. The detailed training of the waist and hips will unify the upper and lower body. This training causes the body to  gradually release and relax, and enables the circles and curves to naturally spiral and expand from the inside out. Taught in 3 sections, beginning with the 8 step taiji form.

Cheng Man Ching – Yang Style

Cheng style Tai Chi emphasizes rooting, complete release of tension from body and mind, and fluid, effortless movement. It is based in the traditional methods of the Old Yang Style, which include a wider array of spine and back positions, stance and footwork variations, and explorations of energy and intention. A hallmark of the Cheng method is the soft, “unformed” hand and wrist, which triggers deep relaxation and heightened body intelligence. Cheng Tai Chi, in keeping with the Yang lineage, also includes an emphasis on balancing solo practice with two-person work Tai Chi weapons, particularly the straight sword.

In this class we will learn the foundation practices of the Cheng Man Ching method, developing deep and strong root and learning to stand and move with complete release of tension. The First Section of the Yang Style Short Form will be introduced, as well as basic two-person practices and sword work that build root, mobility, and sensitivity.

Cheng style is a wonderful balance to other styles of Tai Chi that may not have the same emphasis on softness, rooting, and flow. Open to all levels.  This is an “old school” class in which students of various levels train together, and senior students learn by helping newer ones.

Interactive Tai Chi

Tai Chi is equally an art of solitary cultivation, and of interaction/relationship. Many of the most essential Tai Chi qualities and attributes–rooting, releasing tension, structural integrity, sensitivity, jing energies–are most directly and enjoyably acquired through two-person work, and then brought into our solo form and qigong practice.  This class will introduce a variety of interactive processes, exercises, and games, that will expand your understanding of Tai Chi’s “functional energetics”.  It is also extremely healthy, empowering, safe, and fun!   

Spinal Qigong

Learn various ways of opening all the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the back, safely and effectively. This allows for greater neurologic and energetic flow, reducing tension and pain while increasing comfortable spinal range of motion. As your back becomes progressively more open, specific qigong elements will be added, including Circling Hands with spinal C-curve and Microcosmic Orbit circulation.

This is preparatory to the Energy Arts premiere spinal qigong, Bend The Bow. Time permitting, some aspects of Bend the Bow will be introduced. More of Bend the Bow will be included in the following semester, open only to students enrolled in this class and those with substantial experience in The Marriage of Heaven and Earth.

Students with other taiji and qigong experience may be eligible to attend pending the instructor’s approval.

Yi Quan

Yiquan is a unique internal martial art/qigong system developed in the early 20th century, which combines the most powerful and direct methods of all the Chinese internal martial arts and qigong systems.

Yiquan is a formless art, containing no fixed, choreographed sets of movements or techniques. Rather, it works to directly and rapidly develop one’s vitality, strength and mobility through an array of powerful “universal and natural” practices, including both standing postures and moving exercises. Open to all levels except beginners.

For Advanced Energy Arts Students

Push Hands and Martial Applications

Tai Chi is equally an art of self-cultivation and interaction.  All the movements and energies of the Tai Chi forms have their origins in the martial realm, and some experience and understanding of this aspect of Tai Chi is essential to genuine progress in the art.  In this class, we will explore a range of Two-Person Tai Chi practices, including:  Four Styles of Tui Shou (Pushing Hands); Tai Chi Striking and Defensive Methods; and Tai Chi for Self-Defense.  Open to all levels.  No previous Push Hands or martial arts experience required.  Levels of contact will be adjusted to be capacities of the individual students.  Instructor Don Ethan Miller is 4-time National Push Hands Champion, and has trained numerous other champions and medalists in PH competition.

Tai Chi Sword

The Tai Chi Jian is a straight double edged sword.  This elegant Sword Form was passed down through the generations from Master Chen Yuxia, daughter of the famous grandmaster Chen Fake. Practicing with a calm, focused mind, you will strengthen your body, improve your balance, develop  concentration and focus. You will gain hand, wrist and finger skill, open up your energy field and have fun!

Wu Style Short Form II

Once you have the framework, you now start the long process of putting in the internal components. The body is always pulsing, so you want to become aware and in control of it. Done properly, the form pulses and “bounces”, smoothly flowing and swirling in intricate patterns. You are always lengthening in and out, connecting further into the body until moving your arms and legs connect to your belly. Level two is when you start getting a sense of the four energies: up, down, inward, and outward. First you learn how they are created physically in your body, and gradually
getting an actual sense of the energy movement. While the form helps you become and remain healthy, above all tai chi if fun! People find that the more they learn of it, the deeper in they go, and the more enjoyable it becomes. Many people continue in level two for many years, continually finding new ways of working with the body. Those interested in learning the long form usually need at least 18 months (9 sessions) in level two.

Wu Style Long Form I

This is a traditional form consisting of over a hundred movements, which takes about 25 minutes to perform. Learning the Long Form provides access to deeper twisting, pulsing, and internal energy flows, as well as the ”meditation in motion” which is the hallmark of all advanced Tai Chi practice.We teach the long form in six seven-week sessions, starting every year in September. Most students need at least two years of short form work before starting the long form. Many find that the various qi gong (chi gung) courses also help to prepare their body for the internal work.

 

Wu Style Long Form II

Level two is also a six-session course. We go over all the moves learned in level one, and also work to develop circularity. We work on tai chi stepping, and start to look at how the four energies are used.

Wu Style Long Form III

By the time you get to this level, you are fairly comfortable with the form, so it is time to both relax and also to look more deeply into things. We look at every move in the form, including those taught in the short form, spending as much time as people need. At this pace it takes about four years to cover all the moves. All learning is circular, so as you study moves repeatedly, you understand them more deeply, and, paradoxically, learn how to make them simpler and more complex. You progress from moving your hands and feet to moving your arms and legs, and then to moving your body, until you are just moving from your lower dan tien.

Wu Style Long Form – Special Subjects

These classes are considered part of level two and three, and are included in the price. Special Subjects can also be taken alone. This course is about whatever Alan decides to teach, or what he feels is needed. Individual movements are not taught, but the principles behind them are. Every class may be different, or one subject may be developed for a month or more. Possible subjects are: twisting soft tissue, leg alignment, pulsing, stepping, or the core channel.

Gods Playing in the Clouds Qigong

This is the most advanced qigong in the Energy Arts system, combining everything from all previous qigongs and containing the most neigong components. A powerful longevity practice, Gods also provides the bridge to Daoist meditation. Some competence in the other Energy Arts qigongs is recommended.

Heaven and Earth Qigong

Tai Chi 301:

This a class for instructors and others with a minimum of 5-10 years experience in Tai Chi  and other Internal Arts. In keeping with the original methods of the Taoist arts, there is no fixed curriculum, but classes will cover such subjects as:  the 16 Jings and Beyond, Deep Form Work, Transformational Processes (hua jing), the relation of Martial and Healing energies, wu wei (non-doing), and the like.  The class will also include individualized work to enhance each person’s specific path to progress.  Admission to class is by permission of the instructor only.