What is T'ai Chi Ch'uan?
T'ai Chi is meditation in movement...and a whole lot more. When you see the Tai Chi hand form practiced it looks like a series of slow, graceful movements which are relaxing to watch and perform. T'ai Chi is more than this however. T'ai Chi has three main aspects - it is a physical exercise, a meditative experience and hidden within this, an art of self defence. T'ai Chi Ch'uan translates as 'Supreme Ultimate Fist' and over time we learn that to be relaxed is to be in control of our body, emotions and mental acuity.
What happens in a class?
A typical class starts with a warm-up, breathing exercises and some partnerwork followed by work on the T'ai Chi hand form in small groups. Your teacher, together with teacher's in training or advanced students will circulate around the class to help you at the stage you are at. This allows you to progress at a rate that suits you and means you don't have to worry about falling behind if you miss a few lessons. We want you to have a positive learning experience and welcome any questions. Over time and as you progress, you will also learn the T'ai Chi Dance, Staff, Silk and Sword forms.
What should I wear to class?
Loose comfy clothing is best and flat soled shoes if possible - such as plimsolls. Trainers tend to be too bulky for T'ai Chi, and make the foot unstable. Feel free to wear them initially if you have nothing else. Some students choose to go barefoot or wear socks with grips on the bottom but not every hall has a lovely clean floor. If you prefer you can purchase a uniform or T-shirt - your teacher can help with this.
How much does it cost?
Class prices range depending on the venue. Usually this is between £6.50 and £8. This is detailed in the info for each class. Payment is generally by 10 week term, however we do prefer you to pay as you go for the first 4 classes (at the same rate) until you have decided if the class is right for you. We can also offer a monthly payment option if that is easier for you. Missed classes can be made up at any other class.
There is an association annual membership fee of £25 per annum or £15 per annum retired. This also includes your grading card if you wish to grade (although there is no pressure to do this).
Can I start at any time?
Students are welcome any time in our classes. We do have specific start dates in January, April and September as it makes you feel more confident to start with a group, but its not essential to start at these times and students often start between sessions. This isn't a problem in our classes as we teach you at the level you are at and classes are ongoing. We often have teachers in training or senior students assisting in class.
Are there classes aimed at beginners?
Unless a class is new it will not be solely beginners. Generally, our classes are mixed abilities unless specified in the class details. Classes are usually beginners to intermediate level. We find this works very well as more experienced students partner up with beginners.
I have an injury/illness, can I still do T'ai Chi?
Generally yes, but it's sensible to discuss any new exercise regime with your doctor first. Its also good to make your teacher aware of any health complaints that may restrict your movements. Our classes are not competitive and our teachers encourage you to work to your own ability so there is no pressure if you need to take a bit longer on some aspect of the class. There are also chairs around the hall for you to use at any time. We encourage you to relax into movements rather than forcing the body. You should also feel free to miss anything out.
Should I bring anything?
You may want to bring some water: T'ai Chi can make you surprisingly thirsty as the deep breathing helps move toxins out of the body.
Level: Mixed abilities
Cost: £6.50 per week in 10 week terms or £8 pay as you go