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Monday mornings, 9-10 am

58 Cecil St. (north of Dundas, south of College, a few steps east of Spadina)

Instructor Brian Milani

Yang style as originally taught by Master F. Y. Mai

 

Attn.: Cecil Centre & City of Toronto policy: Proof of Vaccination

 

sps0014.jpgTai Chi Chuan (or Taijiquan, meaning "Great Ultimate Fist") is a traditional mind-body discipline, arising from the Chinese martial arts, with positive applications far beyond self-defence in health, meditation, self-development and social relationships.  It is one of the three main "internal" styles of kung-fu.  (The others are Xingyiquan ["Form of Mind Fist"] and Bagua Zhang ["8 Trigrams Palm"].) 

 

Tai Chi can be used for fitness, health, relaxation, self-defence and spiritual development.  Until the pandemic fades, we will refrain from push hands training and other forms of partner work.  But relationship is still a central focus in all our qigong, standing meditation, drills, and the Long Form.  Tai Chi is all about learning to blend and harmonize with external forces in the most effortless way, and this skill can be applied in all areas of life.  Besides developing new levels of sensitivity, tai chi also cultivates a different kind of strength, a “whole body power” grounded in deep relaxation.   

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The slow-motion Long Form is at the core of the art.  You can click here, or on the picture of Master Fu Yuan Mai to see him perform his Yang style Long Form.  He taught at Cecil for several years before retiring to Hong Kong after the passing of Mrs. Mai, who was also a very proficient tai chi player and teacher.  Cecil classes are now taught by a former senior student of Mr. Mai, Brian Milani.  Mr. Mai's form is classical Yang style—known for its slow, round and continuous movements.  He performs it with a relatively compact frame, with tight circles, easily adaptable to push hands and practical self-defense applications; but the form can also be performed with larger circles and a more expanded frame.  Within the essential principles of tai chi, students learn to express their own way of movement. The Long Form takes anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes to complete, depending on the speed of its performance.

 

Drills, Qigong and Standing Meditation

Tai Chi as a complete discipline involves more than the Long Form.  Being an internal art, Sphere8.bmpTai Chi puts great emphasis on the use of the mind.  Standing meditation, or Zhan Zhuang, is a way of attaining deep relaxation quickly and developing what internal martial artists call "whole body power".  It helps players develop sensitivity and find proper alignments.  Qigong, which literally means "life energy cultivation," refers to exercises that can contribute to healing, relaxation, fitness, self-defence, spiritual development and more.  At Cecil St., we do 26-movement qigong set as a 3-min. warm-up to the Long Form. And we also we perform selected qigong movements to enhance energy-flow and flexibility.  We also practice individual drills—which are usually variations of movements from the Long Form—since it is sometimes desirable to do multiple repetitions to cultivate body memory. These practices and meditations derive both from Master Mai’s teaching and from some of Brian’s previous teachers over the past 40 years.

 

Tai Chi Partner-Work and Relationship

Although we are not doing any partner work during the pandemic, we must acknowledge its essential role in Tai Chi.  While tai chi itself can be considered a form of qigong, it is much more than an SnakeCreepsDown.jpgindividual health or energy practice.  We are not just focused on finding our individual centres, but on finding our right place among other centres.  It involves relationship in a central way, even when doing the form alone.  The original Chinese philosophical concept of "tai chi"—expressed in the symbol —refers to the genesis of yin and yang from the Cosmic Void, and how this interplay of yin and yang animates and governs all of life.  Tai Chi Chuan is a martial art that strives to feel & use this yin-yang interplay in movement—expanding & contracting, filling & emptying, gathering & discharging.  Besides every movement having yin & yang elements, the form itself is a pantomime of martial conflict.  As the ancient masters said, "always do the form as if you are fighting, and fight as if you are doing the form."  Even during the pandemic, when we refrain from close partner work, the spirit of relationship is remains in the Long Form. Visualizing an imaginary opponent is necessary to fully feel the energies involved.  That said, when we’re able to do partner work (i.e. when there’s no pandemic happening) these practices are not competitive, but used to help each other find how to centre, root, blend and flow.  All our partner-work strives to cultivate this sensitivity.

 

Self-Defense and Push Hands (post-pandemic)

Tai Chi Chuan can be a very effective form of self-defense, but it is very different than PushHands1.jpgexternal martial arts focused on developing speed, physical power, and aggressive action.  Tai Chi emphasizes blending and harmonizing with the 'opponent's' force, gently redirecting his/her energy in a safe direction.  To do this, the Tai Chi player must maintain a centred and balanced mind, since any strong emotion like fear or anger will diminish the player's sensitivity.  This mindset of harmony is useful not only for dealing with physical conflict, but also for dealing with everyday psychological and social conflict.  Practicing Tai Chi's Push Hands with a partner, therefore, develops skills of harmonious response that can be applied to many areas of life. 

Membership and Registration

Cecil Tai Chi is open to all who take out a membership at the Cecil Community Centre—which costs as little as $6 a year.  For more details on membership, phone the Centre at (416) 392-1090.  And check out all the other programmes offered by the Centre at its official website:

http://cecilcentre.ca/

 

For More Information

Contact Brian Milani here or

Check out the Tai Chi Resources page for wide-ranging supplementary info on Tai Chi practices, systems, teachers, and related mind-body work. 

 

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