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It’s been a little over a year since I began teaching Tai Chi Chuan: 24 Forms (Wang Style*), Wednesday mornings, 10:45-11:45 at the Monroe/Sky Valley Family YMCA, and I am enjoying it very much. A core group of Y Members meet every week, even a few from the day I started teaching in October 2017!
We invite you to join us.
The 1980s: I turned away from teaching theater arts at Reed College in Portland and found a live/work space in Seattle’s Mount Baker neighborhood — my plan was to become an independent artist. A girlfriend at the time introduced me to her Tai Chi instructor whose name I don’t remember, but that he emphasized the martial arts aspect of the tai chi forms taught in the small living room of a communal home. As soon as I had learned the forms I would practice mornings near Mount Baker beach on Lake Washington while the geese grazed.
Nature was to become my teacher as it continues to this day with morning tai chi in a small park along the Snohomish River where I now live with Karen in a renovated Catholic Church we call the AngelArmsWorks Studio.
One summer Saturday morning meeting with a small group in the park, a new member introduced me to Tai Chi Chuan 24 Forms which was different than what I had learned over 25 years ago. Come winter 2013, I attended the classes of the late Master Zhou who had taught with the Everett Parks Department for many years. I loved learning the choreography of the 24 forms and it’s what I do and teach today.
Leading the students in this choreography at the Y is great fun, but I wanted to help the many potential students who would not return, who were perhaps intimidated with learning the forms and their transitions. So I was looking for ideas when I read a New York Times article that mentioned The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi.
Written by Peter M. Wayne, PhD, and medical writer Mark L. Fuerst, the book’s subtitle is “12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart & Sharp Mind.” I immediately adopted elements of their Simplified Tai Chi Program into my Wednesday class at the Y so that it can be described as follows: Warm-up Exercises for 15 minutes; Traditional Tai Chi Elements, 15 minutes; and learning/practicing the choreography of the 24 Forms for the last half of the class.
[Postscript: No need to purchase the book as I will be outlining its content with subsequent posts and discussion of the individual Tai Chi Forms shown the video clip above.]
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