Here are Questions and Answers about classes and the practice.

I do welcome questions, which you can send to me from the
contact page.

Most of the questions below came from students. You may notice some dominant themes here, so there is some overlap, but that’s the way things happen, right?

Q: What style of T’a Chi Ch'uan do you teach?

A: The style is a modified Yang style: the Simplified 37 posture Yang style form of Professor Cheng Man Ch’ing. If you look at the
“resources” page of my website, you will see links to a video page with videos of various people doing the form, including Professor Cheng.

For the first 60 minutes of every class, we focus on a variety of qi gong exercises, and the first three minutes (roughly) of that form—a “mini” form we call the “First Third.”

Q: How many weeks are there in a class term?

A: Tenleytown T’ai Chi is not on a term system.
Our classes and enrollment are ongoing, so you can start at any time. Classes are available in blocks of 10. People can take classes whenever they like. You can come to class twice in one week or once every two weeks. It’s up to you and your schedule.You do not lose classes you've paid for if you go out of town for a few weeks.

We take breaks here and there during the year: a few weeks in the Spring, a few weeks in the Summer, a few shorter breaks during the Autumn, and a break over the Winter holidays.

Q: What should I wear?

A: Loose, comfortable clothing and socks or flat shoes that don’t grip too much, or bare feet. T'ai Chi slippers are nice if you have them: use cotton bottomed for tile and wood floors, and use plastic bottoms for out-of-doors. Check out
“What to Wear.”

Q: Can’t I just learn T’ai Chi from a video?

A: I do not recommend having no in-person lessons whatsoever.

Trying to do it all with just videos deprives you of a teacher being able to monitor postural issues which may result in problems down the road. T’ai chi is designed to be restorative and healing, part of Chinese medicine, and that’s why it’s so sustainable as a practice (the best teachers being in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, with decades of experience). If something feels wrong or even just a little "off," it needs attention immediately so it doesn’t develop into an injury. Even more worrisome is the problem you
cannot see or feel, but a trained eye can pick it up and redirect you, so that you might prevent future injury.

Teachers can work with you and give direct and customized feedback, whereas a video is of no use here.

Q: My friend and I are thinking of taking class together; do you offer a family discount?

A: Classes are sold in blocks of 10, which also functions as a “family and friends” plan—you and your spouse, friend or family member may share one 10 class batch.

Q: I’m out of town a lot and I have an irregular schedule. I’m worried that missing so many classes will prevent me from ever learning.

A: When you first come back to class after a break, you may feel a little worried about what you may have forgotten. Please consider letting that go. Feeling lost is part of the process of learning anything deeply. Besides that, plenty of us who go to class all the time have moments of feeling completely lost. By losing your ground a little and then getting it back, again and again, you learn something valuable.

Also, you may be surprised to find that your body remembers more than you think it could have. That happens a lot.

And, consider that some T’ai Chi is better than none, and life is more irregular than regular, so missing classes at some point here and there is going to be inevitable. Learning is a cyclical, spirallic thing—almost never linear. Come when you can. If you are sincere in your efforts, you persevere over time, and you gradually bring the practice into your life, you will learn.

Finally, you enjoy looking at an excellent and brief article that student Susan Berry wrote on
The Secret to Learning.

Q: I’m afraid to come to class, because I think I’ve forgotten almost everything.

A: Making a start is the hardest part, and you have already done that! After we stop for a while, we can then feel timid about re-starting. It might be helpful to revisit the
Ideas for Beginners piece. Please know that you will not be slowing anyone down if you come and join us. At some level, we are all beginners.

Q: Do you teach private classes for groups or individuals?

A: Yes, as my schedule permits. Please
contact me for more information.

Q: What’s the difference between “Tai Chi,” “T’ai Chi Ch’uan,” “Taiji” and “Taijiquan”?

A: Short answer: they are all the same thing here in the US.

Longer Answer: “T’ai Chi Ch’uan,” and “Taijiquan” are, respectively, the Wade-Giles and pinyin transliterations of the traditional name for the practice, roughly translating as “Great Polarity boxing” or “Supreme Ultimate Fist.” That “Great Polarity” concept is represented by the thing we call the Yin Yang symbol, which in Chinese is the T’ai Chi (pronounced tie-jee), and volumes have been written about that and Taoist philosophy, so I’ll leave you to go deeper on your own where this is concerned.

Additionally confusing, is that the word for the energy we cultivate,
Ch’i (Wade Giles) or Qi (pinyin), pronounced "chee,” is a completely different word in Chinese from the word Chi in the name for the practice (no apostrophe and pronounced “jee” in Chinese).

“Tai Chi” and “Taiji” are abbreviated Americanized names for the practice, with the word for boxing or fist (Ch'uan or quan) dropped. In Chinese, this is the term used to refer to the Yin Yang symbol (and our practice does develop out of this concept).

Q: I’ve been dealing simultaneously with work and family emergencies and have had no time to practice over the last few weeks. I feel guilty!

A: Jack Kornfield has a great line about this, something to the effect of: “there’s no use in beating ourselves up for being human.” There is no use in this practice for thoughts of guilt or chiding for "not practicing enough." No one is making us practice; we’re all grownups here; it has to come from us. We practice because we choose to, want to, we enjoy it, we appreciate what it gives back to us. We practice as we can and when we can. When we can't, we don't. If you have not had a chance to practice lately, no worries. please know that everyone is welcome in my classroom at any time.

Q: Do you know of any Qi Gong classes in the area?  My doctor recommends I pursue this to support my healing process.

A: Short answer:
all of T'ai Chi is Qi Gong, and we typically open each class with various Qi Gong exercises. I taught Qi Gong for Inova health services for a number of years, however, I am not practiced in “medical Qi Gong”--that is, I do not go into hospitals to treat, which is a highly specialized branch of the practice.

Longer answer: the whole Qi Gong thing is a bit complicated.

The internal martial arts (
T’ai Chi Ch’uan, Pa-Kua and Hsing-I, etc.) have long been considered part of the traditional Chinese medicine system. My current understanding is that in the last century, some aspects of what is now called Qi Gong (which basically means "energy cultivation" or "energy work"), were extracted from traditional internal martial arts training and used to create the relatively new field of Qi Gong.

Some people practice this aspect of energy cultivation exclusively, but many teachers (like me) are also T'ai Chi teachers. There is a wide range of practices that fall under the broad category of Qi Gong, from personal in-hospital treatments by certified practitioners (I am not trained in this) to group exercise classes designed to promote health and support healing (such as the classes I’ve taught for the Inova Health System).

Two recommendations I can very happily make:

Capitol Qi Gong

Mr. Ma's lineage, understanding and training are excellent, and I have drawn great benefit and understanding from the seminars I’ve taken with him. This will be healing work, definitely.

The Mindfulness Center in Bethesda offers group classes in "Wellness Qi Gong." You will note that they are taught by the T'ai Chi teacher. The Mindfulness Center is an excellent group, and offers wonderful presentations and seminars for the greater community. They may have a medical Qi Gong contact they can provide--they had a medical Qi Gong practitioner present once as part their "MindBody Week" and I was fortunate enough to attend. Ted Cibik goes into hospitals and works alongside doctors; he shared how he had reversed his own cancer using Qi Gong. Depending on what you're working on, a general class may be a good place to start.

Q: I’ve missed several classes. Everyone else is probably way ahead of me by now

A: The classes are ongoing and not progressive in the sense that you would need to go to the first three classes in order to understand the fourth. Each class serves as a stand-alone class, and the classes also work together synergistically
After all, it’s not as if everyone moves along at the same pace—each person learns differently and has to work at their own level.

Bottom line: I want you to know that there's nothing to be concerned about if you've missed a few classes--everyone has to start where they are each time they walk into the room. Eventually, everyone who stays in the game misses a bunch of classes here and there, because, hey, life happens. The good news is, in my experience, everyone who stays in the game gets great benefit, usually beyond what they could have initially imagined. I know I do. And for me, the benefits continue to unfold, even after several decades.

You may want to take a look at an article I wrote about this:
“On Keeping Up and Falling Behind: Ideas to Consider Letting Go Of”