Brandon Smith (Redwoodtwig)
Tai Chi for Martial Health
I offer an ongoing class through the Capital Ritz Dance Studio, 573-893-7787. Thursday Evenings at 5:30 p.m.
This class is for people who are primarily interested in the health benefits of learning Chi Kung and Tai Chi Chuan. There will more emphasis on the balance and energy flow work than on the martial aspects of the art. However, the essential core of Tai Chi Chuan is martial in nature.
I also offer private instruction, demonstrations, and workshops. Contact me through the form below.
Forms that I am comfortable teaching:
The Yang Family short form, also known as the Chen Men-Ching short form, sometimes also called the 32 form or the 37 form. I learned this in 1981 and have been teaching it between leaning and teaching other forms since 1993.
I learned several sword forms over the years, but currently focus on the standard 42 posture competition scholar's sword form I learned from Arthur Du.
I learned several forms from Arthur Du, and can provide instruction of what I leaned of the 42 42 competition bare hands form.
Most class sessions begin and end with some form of Chi Kung (Qigong). Among the ones I frequently use are the Eight Brocades of Silk, the Basics (also known as the Six Pearls), and the I Chi King.
Note: I'm currently teaching the 37 Form in the Jeff city class, not the 13 form shown to the right. I also currently practice a modified version of the form in the video that takes only a square yard of space to do it in.
A very basic and short form
Tai Chi Chuan means "grand ultimate fist fighting" and the health benefits of this slow and intensely controlled sequence of moves requires that mindset to some degree. When you can do a Tai Chi Chuan form from beginning to end as one continuous movement, your body and mind will experience the health benefits.
Chi Kung means "energy work" and there is a much wider variety of manners of doing it. Some forms of Chi Kung are meditation, some are simply breath/movement coordination exercises. Sometimes it is a sequence of moves that are done much like a Tai Chi Chuan form, but without the martial orientation; even then, a martial artist can usually find applications with the Chi Kung movements. At other times it is more like a set of calisthenic or stretching exercises, a warm up or cool down.
Both Tai Chi Chuan and Chi Kung are based on ancient Chinese concepts and philosophy relating to energy fields in the body. Understanding those concepts and philosophy is not required to learn either one, nor does it prevent the health benefits from arriving. Simply doing the form correctly will work. However, it is well to remember that the land of pure reason is not the land of reality, and once you leave the realm of measurement you enter the realm of speculation and idealism.
Very useful for mind and spirit training, but when actively used while trying to learn or perform a Tai Chi form, it falls into the category of "monkey mind."
The minimal martial aspect required for even the most peace loving person is simply the turning off of the "monkey mind" and turning on the "total awareness of the situation mind." A warrior in combat cannot afford to be distracted by random thoughts and very much does need to exactly where he or she is in terms of the immediate environment as well as the exact position and alignment of the body and how one is moving the body. This is why the eyes are not only open when doing a Tai Chi form, but they are shinning with bright spirit, as Master Peter Moi used to say.
Clothing: Wear whatever you are comfortable in. Since you will be bending and turning, your clothing should not bind or be too tight.
Shoes without high or built up heels are best though you may want to work in socks. We'll be working on a wood floor.
Instructor: My name is Brandon Smith, and I've been working on various forms of Tai Chi Chuan since 1981. My primary focus is on mind-body coordination and control -- balance, awareness, and tone. Some theory is needed, but mysticism is not required. Tai Chi Chuan is spirit, not spiritual. Tai Chi Chuan is not "moving meditation," though it certainly looks like it. The proper performance of a form may be preceded and followed by meditation. During the form, one should be 100% here and now, focused totally on what one is doing. Which is often harder than meditation.
To quote myself: It's not "empty" your mind, it's "fill" your mind completely with where you are and what you are doing.
My teaching style is more like an athletic coach than anything else. I tend to approach a class as primarily a training exercise in the basics as we work our way through a form over 16 to 30 weeks. I took me 32 weeks to learn my first form, and I've found that short cuts don't work very well.