Barstow Alexander Institute

Tai Chi Chuan at the Barstow Alexander Technique Institute

Tai Chi at the Institute


The gentle and graceful movement art of Tai Chi Chuan is included in the BarstowAlexander Technique Institute. The optional classes meet for 30 minutes each morning before breakfast, and are an ideal way to greet the day. The sequence that is taught offers insight as to how F.M. Alexander’s discoveries about ease and efficiency of movement can be applied in many ways.

The instructor, Stacy Gehman, began learning Cheng Man Ch’ing’s short-form in 1973 and has studied with a number of Professor Cheng’s "first generation" teachers in the US. Stacy teaches the movement sequence known as Grasp the Sparrow’s Tail in the classes at the Institute. This sequence is at the core of almost all Tai Chi forms, and is repeated a number of times throughout a complete form. Learning these movements provides a solid foundation for a new, or experienced, student’s subsequent study of Tai Chi.

What is Tai Chi Chuan?

Tai Chi Chuan is an ancient Chinese movement art that has spread rapidly around the world in the past 30 or so years. It is practiced by many as a moving meditation - Tai Chi’s emphasis on relaxed, balanced movement, founded on the principles of Taoist philosophy, make it an ideal way to explore the link between a spiritual path and activity in the world. Tai Chi practice also gently strengthens our bodies without stress - energizing and balancing the natural healing processes of the body. And as a martial art, Tai Chi masters are known for the subtlety and power of their relaxed movement.

The term "Tai Chi" is translated as "supreme ultimate," in the sense of the primal beginning of our world. It is the name of the well known symbol of the circle divided into yin and yang, light and darkness. As such it represents differentiation itself. Tai Chi Chuan is a study of the differentiation of our weight - of the movement of our weight from one leg to the other - and how that movement manifests in the movement of the rest of our body. Every movement we make is seen as a movement of the whole, which, with study and practice, can be directed by our minds in a subtle and gentle manner. The power of the movement comes from moving as a coordinated whole - similar to the power of a multitude of raindrops collected into a tidal wave.

The movements of the Tai Chi form are apparently composed for martial application, but at a deeper level they move the Chi - or energy - through our bodies in a balanced, harmonious manner. It is this movement of the Chi that produces the many benefits of Tai Chi practice. Excess tension, or even egoistic striving, are seen as hindrances to the flow of Chi; Tai Chi practice is aimed at helping us remove those hindrances.

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