My name is Michael Ledman and I am a T’ai Chi Ch’uan instructor in northern Minneapolis. I have been studying and teaching T’ai Chi for 16 years. I came to T’ai Chi after studying external martial arts for 10 years. I found that external martial arts were becoming destructive to my body. Joints being pushed past their limits eventually become injured. But then I found T’ai Chi Ch’uan, and what a wonderful gift it is.
The question might be asked; what is T’ai Chi Ch’uan? T’ai Chi Ch’uan is classified as an internal martial art, sometimes referred to as moving meditation. It has gained popularity in recent years as it's claims for health benefits have been supported by recent medical studies. (for more information on the benefits click here) It teaches the practitioner to bring back into balance the mind, body and spirit. Unlike most martial art programs, that break boards, build tension and rely on physical strength, T'ai Chi Ch'uan focuses on developing internal power through relaxation, flexibility and mindfulness. Everyone learns at their own pace, and no one is too old or to uncoordinated. All it takes is time, patience, and perseverance. I hope to see you in a class soon
A little History
The gift of the snake and crane
One spring day about 800 years ago, the legend says, Chang San-Feng stood motionless in the woods, staring into a clearing before him. For hours he watched as a snake and crane sparred. Each time the snake struck, the crane simply waved its wings and danced out of the way. When the crane attacked, the snake gracefully slipped aside and the bird struck only air. Chang San-Feng was deeply impressed by what he saw and he used what he learned from the snake and crane to begin developing the art of T'ai Chi Ch'uan. History tells us that T'ai Chi Ch'uan (pronounced Tie Jee Jaun) was developed in Northern China some 800 years ago. At first, it was reserved for only Royal families because of the powerful minds and bodies that it created. But, around the year 1900 Yang Chen Fu broke with tradition and began teaching the art to the public in order to realize his dream of strengthening his people and his country.
There are five main styles of T'ai Chi Ch'uan: Chen, Sun, Wu, Hao, and Yang, all of which came from families in China. Chen is the most practiced form in China, while Yang is the most common in the United States. From these basic styles, came many offshoot styles which are practiced all over the world today. One of the forms I teach is called Chen Synthetic, or New China. Developed in the 1960's by a member of the Chen family, the form has 88 postures or movements. It is unique in that it works both the right and left sides of the body giving you an even body workout. The entire form should take around 10 minutes, and a complete workout including opening and closing Chi Kung (breathing exercise), will take about 30 minutes.
Mind and Body Are One
Unlike most martial art programs, that break boards, build tension and rely on physical strength, T'ai Chi Ch'uan focuses on developing internal power through relaxation, flexibility and mindfulness. Though most if not all the postures have martial applications, that is not the goal of T'ai Chi Ch'uan. The goal is to relax the body and mind while strengthening them. Emotions and thoughts do effect our bodies. Most people have become exhausted after long hard crying, perspired after becoming suddenly nervous, or experienced a pounding heart after a big surprise. In T'ai Chi Ch'uan we work the cycle backwards, effecting the body to effect the mind. If the body is open and flexible, the mind will be the same. To become emotionally balanced and focused, we first must become physically balanced and move with purpose.
"The softest of all things can overcome the hardest of all things. Only the insubstantial can penetrate the spaceless. Thus, we know the benefit of non-interference and the teaching that does not rely on words. Few people under Heaven can attain it."
Tao Teh Ching verse 43