We maintain a close connection with the Tai Chi Foundation (TCF) and utilize the curriculum developed by the TCF. A carefully-designed sequence designed to help students develop their tai chi to a deep level, the TCF curriculum provides a clear, time-tested path.
We use team-teaching in most of our classes. This has several advantages. Firstly, students have at least two teachers to watch and listen to during class. Secondly, our teachers work together to improve the learning experience, ensuring that each class gets just what it needs. Working in a team also helps to keep the focus on passing the art to the students, rather than being an ego trip for any individual teacher.
The first level, Beginning Form, teaches the Yang Style Short form of Tai Chi as taught by Prof. Cheng Man-Ching. The form is taught in 32 one-hour classes, divided into three separate courses called B-1, B-2 and B-3. We teach the entire sequence of movements, where the hands go, where the feet go, and the principles (softness, straightness, relaxation) that makes doing the movements worthwhile. Each class hour provides teacher demonstrations, lots of practice repetitions, hands-on adjustments by teachers, and verbal guidance. Students are asked to practice what they know at home in the morning and the evening. Practice is the heart and soul of learning and benefitting from Tai Chi.
In the next level, Integration, we review the entire Form from beginning to end, working to embody the tai chi principles at a deeper level. We refine our balance, relaxation, and overall awareness through each posture and transition. Integration is divided into three 10-week courses: I-1, I-2, and I-3.
Having become more relaxed and confident of the Tai Chi Form, students are then ready to begin Introduction to Partner Work, working with a partner to help each other become more aware of tensions we hold and to help each other let them go. Lighthearted and playful, there is a lot of laughter and camaraderie in all of the levels of partner work.
Intermediate Form Class, a level of refining the Tai Chi Form further, is next. Then comes more partner work in Connecting with Heaven and Earth, followed by Listening Hands, then more form refinement (Intermediate Form Consciousness), another level of partner work called Returning Energy, and then introduction of the Tai Chi Sword Form.
Every step along the way is enjoyable and rewarding. Repeating classes you have already taken is encouraged. Consistent daily practice cultivating the principles of balance, relaxation and straightness, brings the real benefit – a healthy, relaxed, alertness from which life is much more enjoyable and productive.
Other TCF coursework brings tai chi benefits outside of the study of the form itself. Courses like The Eight Ways of Tai Chi, and Roots and Branches Qigong ™ may be taken by those who have not yet learned the form, and are at the same time an invaluable aid to the serious student of tai chi.
We teach three class terms a year starting in January, April, and September. Each term is 10-12 weeks long and class offerings vary based on the current needs of the students. Most years, we host a week-long Summer Retreat at the Whidbey Institute on Whidbey Island in late July. This event is staffed by TCF instructors from Europe and around the US. We also host a Winter Retreat, which is non-residential and takes place in Seattle at the end of December. Additionally, visiting teachers present weekend classes at various times of the year.