Taiji (Tai Chi) is a sophisticated, ancient Chinese ‘internal’ style martial art; sort of like a blending of meditation, yoga, and kung fu. Nowadays people mostly learn for the wonderful health benefits of the art for mind and body, which we will focus on here. For info. on Taiji as a martial art see the ‘Butterfly Martial Arts’ section.
Organizations as diverse as the Arthritis Foundation, U.S. Army, the United Nations, AARP, and many others all endorse and promote Taiji due to its superior health enhancing qualities. In China and Asia this has been well known for centuries, though in fact until quite recently in modern times Taiji was not taught publicly. It was held as a closely gaurded ‘secret treasure’ kep’t within certain temples, cults, and families.
It was the famous teacher Yang Cheng Fu who was primarily responsible for introducing this great art to he public. He had moved South to the city of Shanghai in the 1920’s and began teaching publicly. He had many, many students and a number of expert disciples/ masters. These students then carried what they had learned all over China and the world. Over time teachers from other styles began teaching publicly, and in the 1970’s the mainland Chinese govt. began teaching a version of Taiji nationwide (contemporary wushu taiji). Today Taiji is the most widely practiced health art world- wide.
Taiji for health focuses primarily on learning a variety of upright postures which are linked together in a slow motion movement sequence. This is generally referred to as a ‘Taiji Form.’ In the ‘Butterfly Taiji System’ the first form one learns is Yang style set composed of about 40 movements (less postures as some are repeated). It was developed by Sifu Mike’s teacher as an excellent introduction to traditional Taiji.
In addition to the form, students of ‘Butterfly Taiji’ will also learn simple breathing exercises which promote health (Taiji QiGong and Wellness QiGong), fundamental Taiji Basics and Exercises (such as Taiji Stepping Exercises and Standing Meditation), and learn about simple but key Taiji Principles and Concepts. The most important thing we learn is that Taiji can help us have better health all the time- not just when we are in class or training. Things like good posture and proper breathing are treasures for our whole life, all day every day.
Taiji promotes many healthy qualities, such as: Good Posture and Alignment, Co-ordination (Spirit- Mind- Body); Enhanced Energy, Blood, and Lymph Circulation; Better Balance (less falls in the elderly), Whole Body Strength, Agility, Concentration and Relaxation, Stress Relief, and more.
Sifu Mike is an extremely experienced and skilled teacher of Taiji with a proven track record of success, for close to 30 years now. He learned in an old and highly respected way, as a ‘Lineage Disciple’ of his teacher- a close Master/ Student relationship and apprenticeship- full time with this same teacher 17 years consecutively (in his presence, not online or via seminars). Eventually becoming Chief Instructor of the system under him for seven years and taking over ownership of the school from him (White Lotus Martial Arts Center, est. 1977).
Sifu Mike assisted his teacher in classes at the school and in the community, and received hours of special training time each week in developing his skills and knowledge as an Instructor/ Teacher/ Sifu- on top of all the other classes, teaching, and training he was doing. Needless to say, he knows his art quite intimately, unlike many so-called instructors nowadays who perhaps have watched a video or two, take a weekend workshop, and poof, shazaam! are instant ‘Masters!’ Don’t be fooled, however, a good teacher of this art can only be developed after years of proper training and experience.
Sifu Mike has experience teaching his arts to many special needs groups, in addition to the traditional training offered in the kwoon/ school setting. Including: Senior Centers, the State Prison System, lock down Psych. Wards and Neuro- Behavioral Units, Inner City Youth, Arthritis Foundation, MS Society, COPD, Hospitals, Colleges, Town Programs, and more.
Sifu Mike was one of the first 17 people nationally selected to be trained in the Arthritis Foundation ‘Tai Chi For Arthritis Program’ in Atlanta, his partner was the daughter of famous GM Cheng Man Ching, Master Katy Cheng. He was also part of the first class of professionally credentialed ‘Integrative Medicine Consultants’ in the state of CT, via a large hospital system serving millions in the Hartford area.
Sifu Mike has been featured on t.v., radio and in newspapers many times, and published in leading national magazines, such as ‘Tai Chi,’ ‘Qi Journal,’ ‘The Empty Vessel,’ and ‘Massage Magazine.’
** see the ‘Butterfly Martial Arts’ section for more info. on the ‘Butterfly Taiji’ system and feel free to contact Sifu Mike anytime to discuss training for yourself or your group.
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” – Lao Tzu