Strength, Balance & Healthy Aging with TCC

Balance and leg strength are critical elements of healthy aging, research shows. Here, TCC teachers and students tell how the practice has helped them with both.

A Gift Beyond
MB, TCC student, Oxnard, CA

A fall in Tanzania, another in Spain, and another in Vietnam. These were not harmless tumbles quickly forgotten; each caused significant injuries. Perhaps they signaled an end to my traveling … but I am leaping ahead. To understand my experience of T’ai Chi Chih, we must look at the pathway to those places.

I had not welcomed retirement….my beloved husband sank into dementia and left this life….Travel saved me during those dark days…That solace would now end; it would be foolhardy to continue to risk injury so far from home….

(Then), I found a twice-weekly TCC practice. My teacher’s exacting but patient teaching served me well. As I learned, I experienced a quickening and a quieting, but I did not yet know all that the practice would bring.

I began to feel restless. Would one more journey be possible? I traveled to ancient villages and monasteries in Turkey where walking often was treacherous. But I did not fall. Emboldened, I signed on for voyages across the Atlantic and Pacific on traditional clipper ships. As we moved with the sea, I did not fall. I traveled to Budapest and on to Transylvanian villages, and still I did not fall. It began to seem like a miracle, and I wondered how it had come about. I wonder no more: The practice of TCC has gifted me in a remarkable way.

The quieting and calming of TCC movements will insure my lifelong practice. Focus and attention, balance and strength are the unexpected and wonderful bonuses. I now stand and move with a steadier strength. I do not fear the rough terrain, broken walkways, and countless stairways that are routine in the off-the-beaten path places to which I travel. TCC has given back to me the adventures of world travel. On my 81st birthday, I will travel to Morocco.


Better Balance for Students of All Ages

"I heard from another rock climber that TCC practice would give me more focus and balance. It was true; I advanced one whole level in climbing skill. I used to feel that my feet were separate from my hands; now they are not. I am with the rock.” – DZ, TCC teacher and rock climbing instructor, Albuquerque, NM (Reprinted with permission from Blooming the Flower: T’ai Chi Chih Experiences)

"I’ve had a problem with balance. My first (TCC) class was spent using a chair. My second class – much better, as I had been practicing at home. I’m 83 years young.” – JR, TCC student (Reprinted with permission from Blooming the Flower: T’ai Chi Chih Experiences, Vol. II)


Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations are printed with permission from The Vital Force, the quarterly journal of T’ai Chi Chih. The Blooming the Flower series and Blooming the Spirit are published by the T’ai Chi Chih Association, Albuquerque, NM.


Peace through TCC practice

These articles from The Vital Force tell students’ stories of T’ai Chi Chih’s gifts.


“I did my practice to find peace”

By RH, Parma, Ohio

 Without a doubt, the last 18 months have been the most difficult in my life. My son was diagnosed with a brain tumor in May 2012. From that day until his death in October 2013, and through this grieving process, life has been a very different process. The world seems to move in a strange way, as if my life is separate from the whole.

 I did my best to focus on the positive through each of the three brain surgeries. Watching the process of radiation and chemotherapy was difficult – being aware of all that these protocols destroy. My son had been so physically fit and healthy.  He was an avid athlete (he qualified for the SWAT team of the FBI when he was 40), so the worst part was watching the gradual physical deterioration.

Through this incredibly difficult journey, I had one constant: my regular T’ai Chi Chih practice. I did my practice to find peace. I did my practice to find courage. I did it at the hospital when I needed to calm myself. I did my practice looking for hope. Each time I did my practice I felt a new beginning, and I could face it all again.

TCC brought me to the groundedness I needed to remain in the moment and with it came peace and knowing that in the end, we would all be okay. This too was part of the process of life experience.

I talk to my son, Joe every day, as I know he is near and I will see him again. I miss him in the physical. I do my TCC practice each day to find peace, hope and joy in this moment.


TCC’s Gentle Power

By SB, Richfield, Minnesota

In October 2012, my beloved husband of 40 years was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was a terrifying and devastating diagnosis. My T'ai Chi Chih practice helped me to stay grounded through all of the tests, scans, biopsies, surgeries and visits to the various doctors. We were told in the beginning that Jim's cancer was curable because it was contained in his left lung and that once removed, the cancer would be gone. That was not what the cancer had in mind.

Jim recovered well from the lung removal surgery in December but then something went terribly wrong in January. He could no longer tolerate the smell or taste of food and, in the end, lost over 100 pounds from October to mid-March. TCC kept me calm and helped me focus. Jim was in terrible pain that was helped by watching Sandy's seated TCC DVD. He could not physically follow the movements but watching her and listening to her voice helped him relax, decreased his pain and allowed him to sleep. We were also blessed by a healing visit from Antonia when she came to Minnesota for her annual retreat.

Jim died on March 16, 2013 surrounded by family. TCC helped both of us stay grounded through this difficult experience. It provided comfort and helped us accept what was happening and to transition from one life to a new one for us both. TCC helped me carry on, offering quiet strength and comfort in the gentle rhythmic movements that transcend the present realities of life.

Reprinted by permission from the February 2014 issue of The Vital Force.

"You might even call it joy"

Watching someone practice TCC, the grace is evident. Doing TCC, the benefits are clear. Teaching TCC, we pass on to students these precious movements in many ways beyond language.


Teaching How To Let Chi Flow From The Center

By C N-S, San Luis Obispo, California


Letting The Form Move The Chi

Teaching T’ai Chi Chih in a health club presents its own challenges and rewards. The greatest challenge is that attendance is always in flux: one week I have almost all veteran practitioners, and another week half the class might be newcomers or students who attend sporadically because of health or work issues. As a result, I need to teach the basics at almost every session. The greatest reward, though, is that I teach basics at almost every session. As a result, I have had to find ways to teach the core of TCC (flowing from the center) in a way that works for students at all stages of their practice.


Teaching How It Feels, Not How It Looks

I often have the group start by making a circle, and with their hands loosely held behind their backs, begin the side-to-side locomotion of Carry the Ball to the Side. I choose this move for beginners because any compromise to the completeness of the sideways weight shift is more easily recognized since we actually bring in the “empty” or yin leg on the third step. If the student leans to the side or reaches to bring in that “giving” (or empty) leg, he or she immediately realizes that the weight has not yet been centered on the “receiving” (or “filling”) leg.

Once the students internalize the sense of a soft, unwavering vertical plumb line (running between the weight-bearing part of the foot up through the tan t’ien, heart and to the spot between their eyes) and realize that the body is not moved by pushing or effort, but rather by relaxing both legs and letting the body’s weight “pour” completely from one side to the next as the straightened leg is bent, they are ready to try the yinning and yanging step.

I sometimes ask them to think of their spine as a slightly melting stack of little ice cream sandwiches on a plate (the hips) so that they are not tempted to lean their shoulders into the movement, or reach with their arms when we add them later.


Chi Flows From Side-To-Side Like Water Being Poured From One Vessel To The Other

I ask students to consider that even the forward step is also side-to-side, and that the feeling of allowing the energy to be given up by one side in order to be received by the other is the same in both types of move. Again, with the hands resting behind us and an upright relaxed body and gently bent legs, heels together, we begin to orient their body’s center plumb line over the right foot, always moving from the tan t’ien. When all of the weight is over the right foot, we gently set the heel of the left foot forward and slightly to the side (without reaching), set the left heel down, then immediately bend the left leg and allow the hips, which are bearing our relaxed upright body, to flow into that side until the right side is empty. All of the weight is now on the left leg and the body is centered right above that left foot.

It is essential that absolutely no energy is put into the back foot during this weight shift, because that would cause the body to lean forward, and more importantly, it would hold yang energy in the side that needs to be waning into a yin stage (becoming the empty vessel). As with any energy exchange (think a piston or a battery), the more energy that is taken out, the more energy that can be put in.


Chi Flows Because The Center Is Moving – Wait For It To Happen

The other element of this approach is letting the hands become like dinghies pulled behind the powered craft (the tan t’ien). The hands are always pulled by the power source and have no power of their own. Once I took power away from my arms/hands I began to truly experience TCC doing TCC.

To help students feel this, I verbalize the idea that the energy that moves the arms comes from, and actually mentally follows, the generation of movement that starts with the tan t’ien. In each move students are asked to relax, think of where the center weight is and where it is going, and once that core weight shift starts, then they can let something happen with their arms/hands.

Think of the hands in Bass Drum moving forward because the tan t’ien has started forward, energizing them. Think of the arms in the various platter shapes moving to the right or left because the tan t’ien has started off to the right or left dragging them with it, then let the hands refine the circular shape (rather than thinking of the arm movement as making circles on their own related to which foot is forward).

Think of the arms rising in the “Daughters” because the tan t’ien has started moving forward, creating the energy which motivates them to gracefully rise, then allowing them to gently fall in their beautiful patterns, like raindrops flowing down a window, or the glittering stars of fireworks in the night fading as the tan t’ien moves backward: a gravity-powered energy pump, each yin becoming the genesis of the following yang. Forward and back, rising and falling, filling and emptying: part of everything that lives.


Moving From The Center Prevents Fatigue And Injuries

This shifting of all of our weight when we walk and practice TCC in this natural way protects our knees, because they correctly align themselves between the weight-bearing part of the foot. The hip socket can then relax until called upon again. I have observed with my older or injured students that the size of the step or the depth of knee bend is much less important to achieving a deeply-felt practice than is the completeness of the weight shift. Even people who have to use walkers can experience a wonderful flow of Chi although they are only able to take small, shallow steps.

I have had my share of arthritis and other age-related physical issues, and many of my students come to me because they are not able to do much exercise due to health problems. We have all found that by religiously focusing on experiencing a full weight shift with each move, the body is always relaxed, and the “empty” side gets to rest, so the legs do not tire no matter how long we practice. In fact, most students find they have much more energy after class than when we began, and go on to the rest of their day with a very positive attitude. You might even call it joy.

Reprinted with permission from the May 2015 issue of the T'ai Chi Chih journal, The Vital Force.

TCC from a Beginner's Perspective: Thoughts from a Newbie

A TCC student describes her sudden awareness that “Chi is spreading like rings in water to other aspects of my life.”

 By MSK, Seal Beach, California

To be Present

 One of my close girlfriends asked me why I liked this T’ai Chi Chih so much and what it was all about and it got me thinking. I have never tried any traditional T’ai Chi practices so I wouldn’t know the difference. But I know what I like about T’ai Chi Chih and what got me to going to it in the first place.

 In a world where time can feel like riding a tiger through water and hours just slip through one’s fingers, it's so important to find something that helps you live in the moment and be 100 percent present. I searched and tried many things. I tried a circle group meditation where we stared into a circle of candles, and for 35 minutes I did nothing but think about my back hurting, the itching behind my left knee, and buying milk on my way home. I've tried mindfulness CDs where I sat still and got increasingly stressed about spending 14 minutes listening to the ocean … when I had e-mails to answer.

I also practiced a morning meditation where I lay on my back listening to one quiet song all the way to the end (never longer than 5 minutes), and during that time, I managed to make multiple shopping lists, a list of calls to make that day, and to plan Christmas gifts for years to come.

I tried several relaxation techniques where I often just fell asleep. I tried a few types of yoga where I either mentally beat myself up for not doing a daily practice, or I focused too much on doing the poses properly, until realized it would take years (if not decades) before I could relax into it. So when I saw an advertisement in a local magazine in Seal Beach for TCC I thought, you have nothing to lose my friend. I must say I was very skeptical.

 My first time

I arrived a little early to peek at the intermediate class. Students stood in a circle and pulled taffy. Wow, I thought, I will never learn that; it looks so easy that it must be extremely difficult. But I have never tried any martial art, meditation practice, or anything that is so easy to catch and get into the flow. Suzanne Roady-Ross, our patient and smiling instructor, got us started in no time. Luckily, Suzanne explained that we should not be surprised if we felt energy in our hands while doing the exercises. Otherwise I might have run away and never returned because the feeling of something was there almost immediately – the feeling of polarity between the palms and a tingling in the palms that flowed up through the arms. I was speechless.

 To be or not to be

I did not flee and returned again and again to Suzanne's classes. After five weeks, I joined the more experienced class and followed as best I could through all 19 movements. It was an absolutely amazing experience. My brain simply logged off. For the first time in my life my mind quieted. I followed the others from one movement into the next. No shopping lists, phone calls, or anything else emerged in my mind. I experienced for a short while just being. Then we reached “Daughter on the Mountain Top” and my body needed my brain to coordinate my arms.

 The Future

I'm still a beginner, but I’m now able to do all 19 movements, and I keep being impressed by how easy it is to get in the flow and just be. As Suzanne made me focus more on my legs, I realized I had never really felt my legs. I am often unsure if they are bent or straight when they are supposed to be, but that will slowly come. 

I can feel little glimpses of being and the sudden awareness that Chi is spreading like rings in water to other aspects of my life. I now find that in other meditation forms, being in the moment and feeling joy comes more easily. I believe that TCC will continue giving in body awareness and inner peace and joy. I will definitely be practicing TCC for years to come, and I will continue recommending it to people like me, those who often feel more stressed than relaxed when lying down rather than being through motion.

 Reprinted with permission from the November 2014 issue of the TCC journal, The Vital Force.



It's Monday: Got #Energy?

"T‘ai Chi Chih has changed my life,” say many people who practice TCC regularly. In fact, it's one of the most common statements of gratitude TCC originator Justin Stone heard from students over many years. Improvements in physical, emotional and mental health are enjoyed by students of all ages – children, teens, young adults, mid-lifers and seniors. The benefits are often quickly apparent to newcomers, as well as cumulative for those who have practiced TCC for years and decades.

Quotes below are from students and teachers, provided here as inspiration and an invitation. This information is not intended to replace any medical treatment by, or perspectives from, your own health care provider. 

High Energy Is Often a Benefit of Practicing TCC

For more stories about ways practicing TCC has helped improve other aspects of health, visit

"TCC has helped me face the challenges of a lifetime. It has given me the courage to change the patterns that have exhausted me, to leave my native hometown in California and move to New Mexico to start making art again (my true love) and to explore new career opportunities.” – Christa Keller, TCC teacher (Reprinted with permission from Blooming the Flower: T’ai Chi Chih Experiences, Vol. II)

"My TCC practice has reawakened the knowledge that there really is energy inside, and that we can summon it….” – Dan, TCC student (Reprinted with permission from Blooming the Flower: T’ai Chi Chih Experiences, Vol. II)

"I sleep better, I’m more relaxed, I have more energy. Ideas at work flow more clearly and faster. I’m less depressed, friends and coworkers continually compliment me on a ‘glow’ that I have now, and I just feel better about life all around. I’m recommending TCC to everyone in my life!” – Catherine McNair, TCC student, Syracuse, NY (Reprinted with permission from Blooming the Flower: T’ai Chi Chih Experiences)

"In Monterey for the Big Sur Marathon, I finished a full 12 minutes in front of my training partner. In our nine years of running together, he had always outpaced me in races. As all runners know, many factors – physical, mental, and environmental – influence the outcome of any run or race, but this time, in the pre-dawn hours waiting for the (starting) gun to go off, I had time for a complete T’ai Chi Chih practice.” – Kathy Grassel, TCC teacher, Albuquerque, NM (Reprinted with permission from Blooming the Flower: T’ai Chi Chih Experiences)

"In the beginning, it was hard to muster the energy to practice, but I always ended with more energy than I had started with, and so I continued. The benefits that I derived were increased energy and improved mental focus.” – Eddy Perez, TCC student, Newark, CA (Reprinted with permission from Blooming the Flower: T’ai Chi Chih Experiences)

"The main reason [I continue practicing] is for the benefits it provides me right after doing the (practice): the wakefulness, the alertness, and how ready I am for the day. After these (movements), I am ready to go out and do things and do not need to rely on massive amounts of coffee to get me ready.” – Dan Carpenter, TCC student, Columbia, MD (Reprinted with permission from Blooming the Flower: T’ai Chi Chih Experiences)

Unless otherwise indicated, all quotations are printed with permission from The Vital Force, the quarterly journal of T’ai Chi Chih. The Blooming the Flower series and Blooming the Spirit are published by the T’ai Chi Chih Association, Albuquerque, NM.

Reflections of a Senior TCC Teacher: "All Benefit 100%"

This longtime TCC teacher reflects on her current practice in Hawaii as well as her history as the first TCC teacher in Chicago.

All Benefit 100%

By HH, Mountain View, Hawaii

I treasure our teacher community beyond words; the organic evolution keeps me Chi-ful.

My practice and approach to teaching change as I "mature" (at 76 years young). I practice because it is an energy-balancing practice that I can share with others. Each class is its own "spiritual community." I currently teach at a nursing home, a senior residence, the Hawaii Island Home for Recovery (people transitioning from homelessness), and Hope Services' program for recently released offenders. Participants range from being severely limited physically and mentally, to physically and emotionally fragile, to amazingly strong from working out while incarcerated, to regular middle-aged women (and a couple of men).

Students in my classes have health concerns ranging from COPD and diabetes to cancer and strokes. So I won't be training any "next generations" of TCC teachers. I'm grateful for the opportunities I had, as the first accredited teacher in Chicago, to have hosted accreditation courses and even a national conference. Then and now, “personal, spiritual connectivity” forged a relationship that led toward teaching (then) and toward shared practice (now). 

I've always perceived ''stumbling blocks" as stepping stones toward a destination appropriate for the students, and I'm grateful for the many times when that destination turned out to be accreditation followed by active teaching, even on a very small scale.

Connecting with other teachers has been the same kind of "personal, spiritual connectivity" I experience with students. I have seldom missed an annual conference since I was accredited in 1986. The affinity of our devotion to TCC creates an immediate bond with teachers I am meeting for the first time, even if I interact with them for only a few minutes.

"All Benefit 100%" refers to my experience that any one who practices TCC at any level receives 100% of the benefits available to that person at that time in that personal and physical place/space. While my intention is always to practice with integrity, I do so with mindfulness rather than yardsticks or expectations.

I experienced great joy recently when visiting one of my students at a rehab center after she had fallen and fractured her foot in several places. I anticipated the worst, since she has extreme scoliosis and walks with a walker; she does seated TCC. Her face lit up when she saw me and she could not wait to show me all of the TCC movements she could do while lying down, including Light at the Top of the Head!

She explained to the attendant that the attendant could do these movements standing up just by shifting her weight back and forth (which I demonstrated). L was receiving 100% of the benefits of TCC because she was not only doing the movements with as much integrity as possible, she was also sharing her "Joy Through Movement."

Reprinted with permission from the May 2015 issue of the TCC journal, The Vital Force

A Thousand Kinds of (Spiritual) Joy

Anecdotes from T'ai Chi Chih founder Justin Stone from the August 2014 issue of The Vital Force journal:

More 20th Century Psalms

By Justin Stone

I only once met Roshi Suzuki, the Zen Master who helped found Tassajara, but was deeply impressed. It is a difficult drive up to Tassajara in the winter and I had an old car. After speaking with me for a while in Japanese, in the mistaken impression I was a well-known scholar he was expecting from Kyoto, Roshi invited me to share a Japanese ofuro (hot bath in a wooden tub) with him. Looking hesitantly at the fading sun as the day drew to a close, I replied that I had better start back while there was still some sunlight to see by. "The moon gives light, too," was his soft answer.


 One of my T'ai Chi Chih teachers brought some students to see me on the Monterey Peninsula. We talked of this and that, and then one of the students asked me about reincarnation (a misleading word).

"What do you mean by reincarnation?" I asked. "What is it that reincarnates? That tree in the garden is shedding leaves, which is natural in autumn. But those leaves will return next spring. Is that what you mean?"

"The leaves that come in the springtime will not be the same leaves," the student protested.

"Why identify with the leaves?" I asked. "Why not identify with the tree?"


Lynette Wooliver, a profound Christian Scientist, is one of the most spiritually advanced people I have known. She once remarked to me that she saw her daughters as two nice girls who occasionally visited the house. When the home she and her husband were building in Santa Fe tragically burned to the ground just before completion, she told me that they had watched the fire with interest for a while, then went home to enjoy a night's sleep. As her mother was dying, she remarked to Lynette on the beauty of the flowers in a vase by her bedside, and Lynette answered: "I picked them myself in the garden."

One time, in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles, Lynette and some friends were eating lunch with me at a sidewalk cafe owned by an Austrian man. For dessert he brought us each a rich Sachertorte from Vienna, so good one always wants a second. As I was bringing my fork to my mouth with the first succulent piece, salivating in anticipation of this tasty morsel, Lynette suddenly asked: "Can we do without this?"

I immediately put my fork down and pushed the plate away, and she did the same. Seeing this, she remarked: "Then we might as well eat it" – which we proceeded to do with gusto. I believe the lesson was completely lost on her friends, but it is true that we can only enjoy that which we can do without.


Swami Ramdas, who died in the middle of the twentieth century, was like a joyous child who saw God in everything and everybody. One day a man robbed a bank in an Indian town and, when he was apprehended, there was Swami Ramdas carrying some of the bags of loot for him.

In court the Judge asked Swamiji, "What is a Holy Man like you doing mixed up with this thief?"

Swami Ramdas replied: "By the Grace of God I was standing on the corner when, by the Grace of God, a man ran by, carrying some bags. ‘Here, carry this,’ he yelled at me, and, by the Grace of God, he threw two bags for me to carry. So, by the Grace of God, I was running alongside him when, by the Grace of God, two policemen …"

"Get out of here," interrupted the magistrate, laughing, and Swamiji was set free – by the Grace of God. The Sanskrit scholar, Judith Tyberg, told me this story of the great Saint who had become like a simple child, dancing for Joy.

[Reprinted with permission from Good Karma Publishing. This title is out-of-print.]


TCC Benefits: A Student's Perspective

Reflections On Learning TCC ... One Year Later

By GH, Atlanta, GA

I was introduced to T’ai Chi Chih at a retreat for women. In a beautiful mountain setting, with light streaming through the windows, I was amazed I could feel the energy. About a year later when another opportunity arose, I knew that despite my busy schedule this was something I wanted and needed to do. I was feeling stressed, worried and at times depressed. I’m not sure what I expected to gain.

This week marks a year that four of us have been learning and practicing TCC with Sheryl Adair. I always leave class feeling serene, calm and peaceful. Even though I don’t practice as much as I’d like, I feel different. I am calmer. I still worry and feel stressed at times, but my emotions are more balanced. Is this all due to TCC? Probably not. I’ve made some other changes, too. Is it partly TCC? I’m certain of it. I believe the benefits will continue to grow over time. TCC is an important part of my life. I am grateful. I give thanks.  

Reprinted with permission from the May 2015 issue of the TCC journal, The Vital Force.

Years of Benefits from TCC

People who've done TCC for decades have experienced, and seen in others, a wide range of physical, emotional and spiritual benefits. Here, a TCC teacher from Maine tells his story.

My Story

By RR, Portland, Maine

This is my journey. I went to my first T’ai Chi Chih class in Montclair, New Jersey, thinking it was a T’ai Chi Ch’uan class, which I had learned in San Francisco in 1983 and had pursued for many years. I had taken external and internal martial arts since I was 19 and the one thing I had always been searching for was a spiritual dimension. I knew it was out there; I had taken Aikido when I was younger and, because of its philosophy, I knew there could be a spiritual aspect to all this.

For the most part, T’ai Chi Ch’uan classes I had taken had no meditation feeling to them; it was all about the physical. I was ready for T’ai Chi Chih when it came along. It was a big surprise.

I think of T’ai Chi Chih as another qigong system and, although its principles are based on the physical foundation of T’ai Chi Ch’uan and TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), which gave birth to the meridian system, by the fifth class I knew this was very different and I was hooked. I also remembered that Justin Stone was a T’ai Chi Ch’uan master. I was especially impressed by Justin's writings, especially Spiritual Odyssey, where he made reference to Krishnamurti, whom I had seen in New York City in the 1970’s and who had a great impact on me. Much of what Justin had to say resonated with me, especially being in the here and now, which I feel T’ai Chi Chih emphasizes. Justin’s focus on relaxing also rang a clear bell.


I didn’t get serious about T’ai Chi Chih until I suffered heart problems. In 2007 my doctor told me that my ejection fraction rate (the percentage of blood pumped from the left into the right chamber) was twenty-five percent. For most people it’s between fifty-five and sixty-five percent. After practicing T’ai Chi Chih for all these years, mine is now around seventy percent, which mystifies my cardiologist. I tell him it’s the Chi.

In 2009, I received my certification....


Maine’s population is 1.33 million, while Portland (where I’m the only full time T’ai Chi Chih teacher) has 66,000 people. The New England area, I think by temperament, has not fully embraced either T’ai Chi Chih or T’ai Chi Ch’uan, although there are many yoga studios around Portland. When I moved here, Maine had three other T’ai Chi Chih teachers in the north; now there are five. When I came there were no T’ai Chi Chih teachers in New Hampshire, Vermont or Massachusetts; now there are two or three in each. So T’ai Chi Chih is slowly growing.

My support comes from T’ai Chi Ch’uan teachers, from whom I still take classes (my roots). And I’ve demonstrated T’ai Chi Chih to my T’ai Chi Ch’uan class. One of my teachers offered plants for my T’ai Chi Chih studio and hooked me up with “Mended Hearts” for whom I did a demo....

My students are my inspiration. My best student (I always say half-kiddingly) is 90 years old and does T’ai Chi Chih daily – even when he suffered from mononucleosis and pneumonia. He loves T’ai Chi Chih, which has increased his balance and he considers it meditation, although he “could never meditate.” He helped me demonstrate T’ai Chi Chih on a local television station a few years ago. He has what Justin refers to as teh (inner sincerity).

I’d never taught before and it’s my students who have supported me and whom I’ve learned from. Students love the feeling they get from doing T’ai Chi Chih – the general feeling that it transports them to another plane.

I predominantly get female students between the ages of 50 and 90; a number of them belong to religious communities. (Students include four pastors and one Buddhist priest.) I also have multiple sclerosis students for whom T’ai Chi Chih has greatly helped with balance. For some, T’ai Chi Chih has had an immediate impact. My very first student reported that after five weeks of classes she asked her doctor to cut her arthritis medication in half (which he did). The doctor also reported that my student’s blood pressure had never been lower in 18 months.

A few students have expressed an interest in teaching T’ai Chi Chih; one is actively pursuing accreditation. As a teacher I look for that “inner sincerity” that Justin talks about. I leave the spiritual aspects up to the individual; my focus has been on preventive health aspects of T’ai Chi Chih. During the Mended Hearts demonstration, I learned that two of the biggest post-operative factors were depression and the inability to be active, both of which are positively affected by T’ai Chi Chih.

Excerpted by permission from the May 2015 issue of the TCC journal, The Vital Force.

"Skating on Thin Ice"

From aiding recovery after two knee replacements to guiding a student navigating "on thin ice," Tai Chi Chih aids in balance and in moving through life a little more smoothly.

"TCC Appears in Everyday Action"

by CW, Tupelo, Mississippi

A competent young orthopedic surgeon recommended T'ai Chi Chih as a resource in my recovery from a total knee replacement four years ago, and reiterated the recommendation after a second such surgery on the companion knee two years later. I'm pleased I followed his advice. TCC was unknown to me when I wandered into my first class simply seeking better physical balance. Since then, through participation in weekly classes and practice at home, not only has my physical balance improved nicely, but I also have received enhanced mental, emotional and spiritual balance.

I'm now beginning to have experiences where TCC principles become useful in my everyday life. During the recent extended absence of my companion, I had such an occasion. In her stead I had agreed to take over the morning chore of feeding wild birds that flock from the woods adjacent to our rural house. Before leaving, she demonstrated to me the careful spreading of birdseed along wooden railings that surround three sides of our exposed rear deck. 

As I approached the first morning of my new bird feeding duties, I found myself standing on the deck covered in a sheet of ice. However, thanks to the practice of TCC, I remained calm and breathed deeply. It came to me that my body knew how to safely execute the required action.

I slowly sank down and placed all of my weight into my left leg. I then moved my right foot in a small sideways step and glided to my right side, placing all of my weight into my right leg. After moving my left leg alongside my right, I sank down again and began the feeding, distributing seed. Before each succeeding step I confirmed that all weight had fully shifted to the receiving, substantial leg before moving. I successfully repeated this maneuver along the entire perimeter of the icy deck, and when I completed the seed distribution I'm certain I could hear the observing birds rejoicing in the woods. Joy through movement, perhaps.

For me, this fulfilling experience underscored two of the primary TCC principles – focusing in the soles of the feet and shifting the weight correctly. Knowledge of how to move properly was essential on that frigid morning. While literally on thin ice, my body had been grounded securely during the bird feeding process. I'm more balanced and centered in my physical body movements than ever, and for that I am grateful to TCC and for the caring instruction and support of my teachers.

Reprinted with permission from the May 2015 issue of the Tai Chi Chih journal, The Vital Force.