One day I saw one of my fellow Jiu Jitsu brothers at a concert and I was telling him about my Tai Chi class . He asked me how I got into Tai Chi and what I felt the benefits were. In the concert atmosphere it was hard to put together any concrete thoughts so I answered with a very generic "Uh… I don't know. I like it." - Hahahahaha
I feel like these are 2 really good questions though, so I thought I'd take the time to answer them here. Each question is pretty important, so I've decided to separate them into 2 different blogs :)
1. Why (How) Did I Start Doing Tai Chi?
I've always been interested in martial arts since I was a kid. I mean what kid doesn't like ninjas? When I was younger and all through high school I had terrible allergies to the outside as well as having asthma which totally dissuaded me from any physical activities or sports. By the time I was in my early 30's, I felt a real itch to start something martial arts-wise but didn't really know where to begin. At this point one of my best friends had been working on Southern Style Kung Fu and then Bagua for about 10 years. I talked to him about starting a martial art - I wanted him to teach me, but at this point in his life he didn't really have time.
The advice he did give was this: "Since you'll be just starting martial arts now, being a little older, you might want to look into some of the internal/softer styles of martial arts like Tai Chi or Bagua." Softer/internal styles of martial arts focus more on what's happening within your body and tend to be more meditative. Tai Chi specifically trains relaxation, sensitivity, center and balance. They focus on a 'soft' power which is, in theory, supposed to be able to overcome harder strength based attacks - though there are very Tai Chi 'masters' skilled enough to demonstrate this adage. Tai Chi is also a form of Qi Gong which has many health benefits from increased bone density to lowering blood pressure.
The Bagua teacher he learned from was very skilled, but only taught the public on Saturdays in Madison which didn't work very well with my work schedule at the studio. So I asked my friend if he knew any Tai Chi places and he said "I know this guy that's really good. He makes these crazy YouTube videos. You should check him out."
That's my Tai Chi teacher Casey in the video. Casey's been working on Tai Chi for about 13+ years. In the winter of 2009, Casey was teaching out of the Neutral Ground space (where I teach now). He had a Sunday morning class that I started going to. 2 years later, in January 2011, I went down to San Diego and competed in my first martial arts tournament, taking home 2 gold medals and 1 silver medal in Fixed Step, Restricted Step and Moving Step Push Hands (Tai Chi Sparring).
I love Tai Chi. It has benefitted my life in countless ways since I started. I'll focus on a few of the most important ones in the second half of this post: What Does Tai Chi Do For Me?