T’ai Chi Ch’uan
T’ai Chi Ch’uan is a gentle form of fluid exercise that develops strength, balance and flexibility. T’ai Chi Ch’uan promotes health by strengthening the body, calming the mind, and developing the inner life-force, or ch’i. In this low-impact, slow-motion exercise, you move without pausing through a series of simple postures. As you move, you breathe deeply and naturally, focusing your attention. T’ai Chi Ch’uan differs from other types of exercise in several respects. The movements are usually circular and never forced, the muscles are relaxed rather than tensed, the joints are not fully extended or bent, and connective tissues are not stretched. T’ai Chi Ch’uan is practiced by millions of individuals worldwide and is suitable for all ages and abilities.
Because T’ai Chi Ch’uan emphasizes softness and the mobilization of chi energy rather than strength and agility, it is particularly recommended for individuals whose physical limitations prevent them from practicing more strenuous forms of exercise, such as yoga or pilates. The health benefits derived from practicing T’ai Chi Ch’uan include increased balance and stamina, increased muscle strength and flexibility, increased blood circulation, the reduction of high blood pressure and lowered cholesterol levels. T’ai Chi Ch’uan is recommended by medical professionals as an adjunct treatment for arthritis, heart disease, hypertension, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, breast cancer and insomnia.
Chi Gong is the practice of cultivating and circulating the ch’i, or inner life-force, which sustains every living being – from plants and animals to human beings. Chi Gong is based upon the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine and has been practiced in China for more than one thousand years for maintaining health, healing illnesses and increasing longevity. Translated as “breath work” or “energy work,” Chi Gong consists of of gentle breathing combined with simple, repetitive movements. The idea is to help relax the mind and mobilize the body’s energy. Qigong may be practiced standing, sitting, or lying down. There are many styles of Chi Gong. The Eight Pieces of Brocade and the Five Animal Frolics are among the many popular forms of Chi Gong practiced in China.
Because Chi Gong aids in the cultivation and circulation of the ch’i, Chi Gong exercises are an important component in the practice of T’ai Chi Ch’uan. Every class taught at Beachside Tai Chi includes Chi Gong practice as well as warm-up exercises and instruction in T’ai Chi Ch’uan.
Andrew Townsend lives and teaches T’ai Chi Ch’uan in Ormond Beach. He is a retired college professor and a certified instructor in the art of T’ai Chi Ch’uan and Chi Gong. He has over twenty-five years of experience in the art of T’ai Chi and Chi Gong. Andrew Townsend is a disciple of world-renowned Grandmaster Jesse Tsao of San Diego, California. Andrew Townsend received his teacher’s certification from Grandmaster Tsao in 2005 and has been teaching T’ai Chi Ch’uan continuously since that time.
Andrew Townsend is the author of two books on T’ai Chi Ch’uan: “Tai Chi Essentials: The Simplified 24 Form,” and “Cultivating the Civil and Mastering the Martial: The Yin and Yang of Taijiquan.” These books are available on Amazon.com. Copies of these books are also available at the Ormond Beach Library. Please feel free to review these books online or at the library.
Andrew Townsend offers instruction in either Chen or Yang style T’ai Chi Ch’uan, straight sword, saber, fan, flute and spear, as well as pushing hands. He also teaches the Eight Pieces of Brocade and Five Animal Frolics Chi Gong forms. For those interested in the spiritual aspect of T’ai Chi Ch’uan, Andrew Townsend provides individual instruction in Taoist meditation including Zhan Zhuang, Microcosmic Orbit and Macrocosmic Orbit.
Andrew Townsend with Grand Masters Li Deyin and Jesse Tsao