T'ai-chi ch'uan Ta Wen
T'ai-chi ch'uan, aka:Tai Chi Chuan, Taiji quan
Questions and Answers
Copyright NWTCCA 2002
These are questions have been asked of our teachers and are listed here in no
particular order. Always check with your Dr. before starting a new exercise
This is not meant to diagnose or treat any medical condition, check with your
Dr. about any medical treatment.
For Articles go to resources in the main directory.
In general we teach the Traditional art with emphasis on good health and
What is tai chi? Why was it started?
T'ai-chi ch'uan was developed as a martial art and longevity exercise between
700 and 300 years ago. It still is taught as both a martial art and longevity
art. As early as the 1930's it was found to have varied and profound health
benefits. Today it is primarily practiced as a "Mind-body" and Health
Promotion exercise. It is one of the best stress reduction methods. It is a low
intensity exercise, low impact, suitable to people of all ages and fitness
levels. If you can walk, you can practice tai chi. See History
What is the purpose of learning t'ai chi?
People take our t'ai-chi classes to Improve their Health, Reduce Stress,
Improve their Balance and just feel better about themselves. T'ai-chi is shown
to help some people lower their high blood pressure. Many of our students have
told us that their blood pressure is now under control after their first series
of tai chi and our O'mei chi kung classes. Very importantly increased balance is
reported, even in people of advanced age. This better balance provides better
mobility, self-assurance and will prevent serious injury to the oldest
participants. See article Tai chi Cornell Medical College & New Form of
Is tai chi a martial art? How can the slow motion movements be used
Some students study it as a Classical Martial Art. Some use it to help
improve performance in other activities such as equestrian, tennis or golf. When
done as a martial art the students move at very fast speed just like in other
martial arts. We usually refer people wanting to just learn self-defense to
specialized classes taught just for that purpose. We have had many black belts
taking our classes and they claim it helped their other martial art skills. See
article tai chi san shou
Is t'ai-chi considered an aerobic exercise?
T'ai-chi is a low to moderate intensity aerobic exercise. CTCCA Chief
Instructor, Harvey Kurland, as director of an Exercise Physiology Laboratory,
did a number of studies of aerobic capacity and blood pressure responses of
CTCCA t'ai-chi students. He presented his results to the American College of
Sports Medicine, showing it was a "Low Intensity" aerobic exercise.
Other researchers found similar results to Kurland's work. They studied various
Yang Style slow forms. See article Tai Chi In Cardiac
Rehab. See Aerobic Abstract.
Will Tai Chi help me to improve my balance?
Yes, It has been proven to improve your balance. A number of research studies
including a major study done by the NIH showed significant improvement in
balance, 47.5% less falls, and found it superior to other exercises. CTCCA Chief
Instructor Harvey Kurland has done workshops for the VA Hospitals and medical
personnel in how it improves balance, prevents falls and the proper way to do
the techniques so as to prevent falls. Many of our students remark how much
better their balance is, just after a few sessions. See Balance and article Tai
Chi Chuan - a new form of exercise
I have arthritis, will tai chi help me?
T'ai chi has been shown to help reduce symptoms of some people who suffer
arthritis. It has also been shown to help those with Fibromyalgia. Local pain
specialists have referred their patients to our classes for this condition.
See articles on
Where do you teach classes?
CTCCA Classes are located in Southern California: Corona, Riverside: Loma
Linda, Cerritos, Moreno Valley, California; Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, etc.,
Washington; Ashland, Oregon, Vancouver, Kittimat, Terrace, Nelson, British
Columbia, Ontario, Canada and other locations. Go to Class information page or
go to www.ctcca.org for Washington and Canadian classes
Do you teach Qigong?
Yes, we teach qigong (ch'i kung) "Energy work" as part of the
Tchoung system. Ch'i Kung (qi gong) is a form of mind-body exercise that takes
many forms ranging from calisthenics to meditation. T'ai chi ch'uan (taji quan)
is considered a form of ch'i kung as are hundreds of other exercises developed
over the years. The O'mei method is the foundation exercise for all CTCCA
classes which includes Tchoung's 24 methods of relaxation and breathing ch'i
kung. The O'mei method is very good for stress reduction and very easy to learn.
Some CTCCA Schools also teach bagua qigong, Kuang Ping, Tien Shan, Wild Goose,
Soaring Crane, Fragrance, tree ch'i kung, standing post, Spinning Dragon, and
other methods. Some teachers also practice healing hands, tuina and etheric
healing. T'ai-chi ch'uan is only a ch'i kung if done correctly. We teach the
safe methods as some forms of ch'i kung may be dangerous. See article Chi Kung
What is the Chinese Tai Chi Chuan Association and Northwest T'ai Chi
The Chinese Tai Chi Chuan Association (CTCCA) was the Official t'ai-chi
ch'uan umbrella organization in Taiwan. Tchoung Ta-tchen was a delegate of the
CTCCA. He formed the CTCCA chapter in Vancouver, B.C., Canada where it grew to
3000 students and spread across Canada and to the USA. The Northwest T'ai Chi
Ch'uan Association was formed in Seattle as the United States counterpart to the
CTCCA. Currently L. Lee is president of the CTCCA in Vancouver. See History of
I am on a fixed income and cannot afford to take classes, do you have
less expensive classes?
Yes, For example, Riverside Community College "Young At Heart
Classes" in Riverside CA are FREE for Seniors who live in Riverside County.
These classes are geared for Seniors, so they move through the material more
slowly through the material than the other younger age classes. You must sign up
for each class you attend, even though it is free. There are 8 to 10 classes per
week per semester. You must sign up within the first three weeks of the
beginning of the semester. In other cities check with your local Senior Center.
Go to RCC Link UCR Student
Recreation Center has a quarterly class which is very inexpensive as well. : UCRSRC
Leisure Classes Contact your local classes for prices.
Does Tai Chi give you a longer and healthier life?
Hundreds of years ago the Chinese developed tai chi for this reason. Sifu
Tchoung added particular exercises to improve the health to his curriculum. It
has been shown to help balance, agility, and well being. T'ai chi reduces stress
and has aerobic benefits that are good for your heart. Combined with a good diet
and not smoking, these benefits add up to a better, fuller and longer life,
maximizing your genetic potential. See article Tai Chi for
Health; and article
Tai Chi Lowers Blood Pressure
What type or style of t'ai-chi do you teach?
The t'ai chi ch'uan we teach is called the Symmetrical Version of the Old
form of Yang Style and goes through the lineage of Yang Chien-hou and Yang
Shao-hou. The method was taught to Tchoung Ta-tchen. Tchoung Ta-tchen taught us.
We teach the complete system as taught by Grandmaster Tchoung including O'mei (Emmei)
Ch'i kung, Standing post practice, long form, san shou, fast form, pushing
hands, sword, knife, stick, pa-kua chang (bagua) and Hsin-I Ch'uan (Hsing-I),
etc. See Tchoung Article Some classes, such as UCRSRC,
teach the Kuang Ping (Guang Ping) form another Old Yang Style Form throught Yang
Pan-hou. Some CTCCA classes also teach Chen Style, Fu Style and Wu style in
addition to the Tchoung Form. Check class listings for descriptions.
How long will it take me to learn t'ai-chi?
Usually you should give yourself at least 21 lessons, not days, but actual
formal classes, to get the feel of it. Usually the first 10 lessons are
relearning how to move and getting familiar with the techniques. You are
expected to practice in between classes as well. After 21 lessons you will have
the feel for it and will know if it fits your or not. You should be able to do
it by yourself at this point. That is our goal for students, being able to
practice on their own. Most important thing is to keep practicing on a regular
basis. See article Progressing in tai
chi, And Guard Against the Three Faults
Is there a video that you recommend, to learn tai chi?
We have not seen a good video for self-study for beginners. Most videos are
best used for helping to remember what you learn in a class as a review. Videos
are not very good for learning forms on your own, if you have no previous
experience. You need a live teacher for immediate feedback. We have several
tapes for our students. For our long form the NWTCCA Level 2 video is the only
one at this time that we recommend for reviewing what we teach in the long form
class. It is not useful for self-study but, like most tapes, it is only for
review of what was covered in class. For the Ch'i Kung we recommend Andrew
Dale's O'mei Chi Kung Tape. Both are available for purchase in our classes.
What book do your recommend for your class?
For our classes we recommend the book by Tchoung Ta-tchen, The Annotated
Theoretical and Practical Tai Chi Chuan. It is available in Vancouver and
Riverside classes. That book has the ch'i kung and the Tchoung short form in it.
It also features some unique "Tai chi classics" and the san shou form.
There are many good books on other forms of t'ai-chi. See our suggested reading
I visited one of your classes and what you did was very different from
what I learned before. Why is that?
There are several major styles and hundreds of legitimate versions of t'ai-chi
ch'uan out there, and some not so. There are many different ways of doing the
forms, which make them look different as well as variations on individual
techniques. See articles History of Tai Chi
Chuan; and the article Comparisons
How do I find a good teacher?
See progressing in tai chi article Determining if the teacher is teaching a
legitimate method or if they are competent, is difficult to do for a beginner.
As beginners have no frame of reference as to what is correct. Find a group you
feel comfortable with and then after you get a taste of it you can explore other
options to find a style that fits you. Also make sure you have a legitimate
teacher. Does a reputable organization or a master certify them? Check their
references, find out who they studied with and how long. They should have
several years of formal training under a master. Ask other t'ai chi teachers if
they know of that teacher and if they are competent. Do they primarily teach
t'ai chi ch'uan or do they do a number of martial arts with t'ai chi as a
sideline? Those who teach many arts may not be the best teachers as t'ai-chi is
a specialty. Ask for a referral from advanced students or other teachers. Very
important: Figure out why you are taking the class and make sure the class is
suitable for your needs. See Instructors page for CTCCA certified teachers. See
progressing in tai chi article
I am part of an organized religion and do not want to perform any
exotic religious practice. Do I have to perform any religious practices or learn
about spirituality as part of the class?
T'ai-chi ch'uan is taught as an exercise & martial art and no religious
doctrine are taught in our classes. Though some classes do teach secular
standing meditation methods. Often a t'ai-chi teacher's individual philosophy or
"spirituality" becomes the basis for their "Tai chi
Spirituality" ideas, when in fact it has nothing to do with art of t'ai-chi
itself. We believe these should be held separate and the teacher should not
impose his/her own spiritual beliefs on the students. All t'ai chi ch'uan
philosophy and concepts comes directly from the "T'ai-Chi Classics"
and they have nothing to do with religious values. See article "Religion
and the Martial Arts".
I teach Aikido, if I do the Aikido slowly am I doing tai chi?
No, you are doing "Aikido slowly", you are not doing t'ai-chi.
Aikido is a wonderful art and though there are some conceptual similarities, the
mechanics of the two arts are very different. T'ai-chi has specific
characteristics that make it unique. See article Nimble and Lively
I studied 8 treasures, is that what you are doing?
That may be the "8 Pieces of Brocade" exercises, which are health
promotion exercises done by a lot of people. They are very simple to learn and
some of our classes do them as part of our basic exercises and warm-up. But they
are not t'ai-chi ch'uan. We also do several versions of Ch'i kung, including
O'mei, Soaring Crane, Bagua, Tien Shan, O'mei, Tao Yin, etc., depending on the
school. Most focus on good health and reducing stress.
I went to a few classes and the teacher did what she called the
"Form" and we all followed along. I can't remember how to do it when I
get home. Do you teach this way?
No, that method is called "Follow the leader" method and is the
worst way to teach t'ai chi. It is only suitable for groups who already know how
to do the form so as to do group exercise. We use a systematic curriculum to
teach students. Using our NWTCCA 2 tape can help you remember what to do at
home. See Article Progressing In Tai Chi
I studied tai chi from other people and just want to learn the sword
form, will you teach it to me?
We do offer workshops on occasion where you could learn the sword, as well as
san shou, pushing hands and stick. Workshops are open to the public. BUT, We
would not do an ala Carte approach in our regular classes. In general most CTCCA
schools teach in a specific progression and do not teach out of that order. Even
if you have previous training to take the regular class you will have to start
from the basic class, as our form is different than most. See Article Tai Chi
I am an aerobics instructor and would like to be able to teach t'ai
chi. How long does it take? Can I take a weekend workshop to get certified?
There is No weekend teaching certification workshop like there is for
aerobics teachers and personal instructor's certification. Any such program is
suspect. T'ai-chi ch'uan is a totally different idea than aerobics, t'ai chi is
an Art form. Ranking and time spent in study is similar to learning classical
dance, aikido or karate. You will have to put in a significant amount of time in
classes and learn the methods properly. Aerobics instructors are usually very
fit and flexible, and have had much training to be in that kind of shape, but we
have found that does not help with learning tai chi. You still will have to put
the hours in the studio learning the art form. We have a certification program
where there is a "Level One Assistant Instructor" geared for teaching
basic beginning classes. You can qualify to test for Level One after taking 40
classes, if you have mastered the material. Chief Instructor Level may take 10
years or longer. See the certification page for more information; And article
Beware of the Three Faults
Have you studied other styles?
Yes, Most of the CTCCA and NWTCCA Teachers have a varied background in the
Arts. For example Andrew Dale also studied in Canada and the USA in Dao Yin and
Tien Shan chi kung with F. Yueng, Chen Style (with Gao Fu and Feng) as well as
bagua zhang and aikido. Jim Kuhn also studied Wu Style and Tien Shan Chi kung
with F. Yueng. Harvey Kurland has studied in the USA, Canada, Japan and Taiwan,
and has studied several of the major styles with reputable masters. Kurland
studied Kuang Ping (Guang Ping) style with Kuo Lien Ying, as well as four
versions of the Yang Cheng-fu form, the Wu style form, Chen style, Cheng Man-ching
form, and several version of Ch'i kung (qigong) and meditation. Ruth Villalobos
studied Cheng and Tchoung forms. Dan Venditti studied Sun style in China and
Tchoung form with Kurland. Jeff Herda studied Wu style in China, Fan, Modern
forms, and Tchoung form. So most of the instructors have a wide variety of
training. NOTE: Most CTCCA Teachers Bios are covered on the Instructors Bio
I have heard there are differences in opinion of what is the correct or
better style of tai chi? Do you have an opinion?
There are many legitimate Styles and Versions of the art. You see we are not
into mystification of family names or of the art. We are very happy with the
Tchoung system we teach. According to Grandmaster Tchoung, "If the style
holds to the classics then it is correct." He had many friends who
practiced other styles and never said a bad word about their arts. Even with
different styles, advanced students have more in common than not and petty
differences should be put aside. Often when one person says their style is
better than any other it shows they have some emotional issues to deal with.
There are some subtle energetic differences and aesthetic differences in forms,
which attract people. Usually the traditional systems are well balanced. See
Article Reality Testing, Mystification and
Why do I see so many different experts claiming they are the true Yang
There are many high level masters who teach Yang style. Though their forms
may look slightly different from each other. Interestingly there is a major
family split in Yang style, both sides claiming to have the true teaching. Yang
Zhen-do on one side and Fu family on the other, but there are other groups too.
It is all an ego trip/ economic game, and that kind of bickering is something we
shouldn't want to waste our time on. Both are perfectly fine systems as are many
other versions of Yang style.
According to Tchoung Ta-tchen, there are many versions of t'ai-chi ch'uan out
there and his view was that if they hold to the basic concepts, which includes
the ten essential points, they all are good. T'ai-chi ch'uan is an art form and
as such is subject to artistic variations. (See Tchoung's book for more
information) A stagnant art is against the Tao.
Based on Chinese culture, the Lineage is passed down through a son or son in
law, independent of if they are the most qualified. Others are not considered in
the official lineage, e.g. Tung Yieh Chieh was one of Yang Cheng Fu's top
students but his family style is not mentioned as often as Yang Zhen Do's. Yang
Zhen Do's form can be called Yang Family Style and others who are not Yang
family members are called Yang Style or Yang Version as they are not family
members. There are very good teachers in each group. We often refer people to
Yang, Tung, Kuang Ping, and Cheng style schools when asked for a referral to
legitimate teachers. Even though those styles are different from ours, they are
perfectly fine and valid versions of the art. If we respect the teacher's skill,
then we have no hesitation in referring to them, no matter what style. See
Do you teach other forms of t'ai chi?
We teach the system of the Tchoung symmetrical version of the Old Form of
Yang Style in all CTCCA Schools. Then depending on the teacher other forms may
be taught. Though the Tchoung system is very complete and no other style needs
to be added to make it complete, still some schools also teach Chen style, Wu
Style, Kuang Ping, Cheng form, as well as others. See In Matters of Taste there
is no dispute - Kuo Article
I talked to one master who told me I would just do the basic form with
him for Ten years before he would teach me the sword form. Is this a common
There are wide varieties of curriculums in schools. Some of the very best
"Old School" teachers would do that, as well as teachers that were
just scamming their students. The old school had valid reasons. To us, ten years
sounds like a long time, as we have students with us for a year or less who
study the sword form. Mastering it is another thing altogether. For Example, We
usually teach the long form then pushing hands, san shou, fast form, then the
sword, knife and walking stick. We also have workshops for students who want to
learn other things such as sword or pushing hands out of order. These workshops
are also open to students from other schools were they do not teach these forms.
In Riverside they are held at UCR Student Recreation Center, in Seattle they are
at Dale's Studio. Workshops are also held in Spokane. WA and Nelson, B.C.. (see
UCRSRC link). See Article Reality Testing, Mystification and learning. And
My Karate teacher said that if we do the Karate Kata slowly we are
doing tai chi, do you agree?
No, what you are doing is Slow Karate. Moving slowly does not make t'ai-chi.
T'ai-chi ch'uan is a specific art form with a different conceptual base. Speed
has nothing to do with it, as there are fast forms of t'ai-chi ch'uan too. Some
styles of karate do have slow forms and training methods but those are
considered karate training. See article Nimble and Lively
I have heard some bad things about Cheng Man-ch'ing style? How does it
compare to other styles? Do you have an opinion of Cheng's form?
We are familiar with the Cheng form. Grandmaster Tchoung was a friend and
practice partner of Grandmaster Cheng's in Taiwan. He felt Cheng's pushing hands
was top rate and probably the best in Taiwan. Kurland also studied with a Liang
Tung-tsai who was a student and head instructor for Cheng in Taiwan. According
to Kurland, Liang was a very nice and humble man and had wonderful skills and
was also a friend of Tchoung and Kuo. Cheng was a student of Yang Cheng-fu and
was well respected in that lineage. His very soft form, which appears different
than the Orthodox Yang Family forms, puts some people off. People who like to
see muscle and physical energy are usually don't like his form. That is a
personal opnion. BUT, In the seven t'ai-chi ch'uan tournaments at UCR, Cheng
Man-ch'ing stylists seemed to do very well at pushing hands, they seemed to have
the best internal work for pushing hands, especially in advanced divisions.
Other stylists that won often had Cheng style backgrounds in pushing hands.
Interesting the more martial looking, muscular calisthenics type, elaborate
forms and Chen forms, usually got washed out early and only did best in
beginner's division. We don't know if this is the case in other tournaments or
not. Our view is that Cheng's version is very good, but very different from
Kuang Ping or Chen styles in energy and flavor. It appeals to some people and
not others. In matters of taster there is no dispute. The most important thing
is that you find a form that you enjoy and "fits" you. There is no
"One size fits all" t'ai chi ch'uan style. See Article Comparisons are
Difficult. And article No Dispute as to taste.
Do you follow the ten important points as taught by Yang Cheng-fu?
Yes, we follow Yang's Ten important points. All Yang style t'ai chi ch'uan
schools do, but other styles may not. We also follow the 12 points of Tchoung.
Do You Teach Bagua as part of your school?
Bagua zhang (Pa-kua) is the "Eight Trigrams Palm" method of
internal kungfu. It is one of the major Internal Family Arts, the other being
Hsing-I ch'uan. Some of the CTCCA schools do teach bagua, including Riverside,
CA; Seattle, WA; and Nelson, B,C.; and Vancouver, B.C. Canada. Bagua is part of
the Tchoung System. The Shantung version of Cheng Ting Hua Ba gua was taught by
Tchoung Ta-tchen (Canada) which comes from Wang Shu-jin (Taiwan). Some CTCCA
teachers teach a more elaborate bagua curriculums, such as the "Cheng Ting
Hua 9 Palaces Style" as taught by Zhang Jie (Seattle) and Liu Hsin-han
(Beijing); and Andrew Dales' version from T.Y. Pang. In general, we teach bagua
zhang (pa-kua chang) as a supplement to our t'ai-chi ch'uan class. Emphasis is
on the ch'i kung emphasis and how is helps the t'ai-chi. T'ai-chi ch'uan is the
primary focus of our classes.
Most of our students are older and do not want to be thrown or do the rough
stuff so we are gearing classes for them. Pa-kua was taught through the
recreation center on UCR campus as a separate class for University Students.
Link for UCR Student Recreation Center.
What kind of Hsing-I do you teach?
The Hsing-I ch'uan (xing-yi) that is part of the Tchoung system comes from
Yuan Tao and includes the 5 Elements, 12 Animals and Linking Form. Some teachers
also added the method of Wang Shu-chin and others. Some schools teach Sun Lu
Tang's Combined bagua and hsing-I form. The Hsing-I is done as a supplemental
training to the tai chi and is done softly.
The Curriculum in all CTCCA schools is the Tchoung System, then on top of
that some schools teach other forms as well. Contact each school directly for
their specific curriculum.
I heard some people go around challenging teachers to see who they will
Today there are some fighting schools who might go with that but most
teachers would not accept any challenges and probably call the police on someone
like that. If one wants to prove a point one should go to the tournaments and
compete with those who are interested in that part of the art. It seems some
prefer to challenge only those who they think they can beat and rarely ever go
up against an equal or someone who can beat them. Isn't that called a
"Bully?" After all if one thinks they are tough they can always fight
in the UFC or other full contact tournaments, but we don't see many of these
types in that situation. One of our members from Taiwan said the following,
"From what I understand, in the old time, masters will not accept a
challenger to be their student. Normally they look for a person who respect them
and has talent, good personality, kind, humble and polite. A challenger will not
have the respect they look for. The way I look at martial arts is they are
designed for fighting. It does not matter what era we are in, the fighting
skills are for fighting. However, they should be used for the protection instead
of provoking or showing off. They should be taught to those who have good
nature, peaceful mind and interested in the arts for the arts themselves not for
Is Tai Chi Spiritual?
According to Andy Dale, "SPIRITUAL WORK"
This is very individual, but we still have a tendency to look for someone else
to explain or make us spiritual. Or follow someone we see as spiritual, trying
to rest on their shelf instead of finding our own spiritualness. Sometimes
storing up things as special objects, statues, emblems making them more
important or sacred than our health or own sense of being. In Zen there is the
saying, "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him" The idea
that the Buddha nature is inside ourselves and there is nothing more "out
there" to be found. Spiritual is our core, it's our own uniqueness and each
of us must discover it. Each year as we study mindfully we peel the artificial
layers of accumulated learning away and get closer to our own wisdom."
Send any questions to the editor Ron@dotaichi.com,
and if deemed appropriate they will be answered on this page.
There is more information on what we do at: SW-CTCCA site www.dotaichi.com,
Andrew Dale's site:
Spokane NWTCCA http://www.northwesttaichichuan.org/
Please direct any questions or comments to Ron@dotaichi.com