Taijiquan is an ancient Chinese “internal art” comprised mostly of slow movements — with occasional fast energetic moves — in forms developed from ancient times, but clarified in the seventeenth century and afterward into a number of “family” styles. The earliest is Chen family style. The most common today Yang family style. Taijiquan is an internal art because it focuses on development of qi — internal energy — that connects with the energy of the universe. As such, taijiquan is one form of qigong — energy work
It has three elements:
- meditation and philosophy
- martial art
- system of health and well-being.
Different taiji schools and teachers tend to focus on one or more of these elements. Way of Peace Taijiquan (instructor Dr. Andy Fitz-Gibbon) treats all three elements as equally important for a clear understanding and thorough practice of taiji.
Dr Andy Fitz-Gibbon is a certified taiji instructor by Master Jesse Tsao (12th Generation Chen style lineage) of Tai Chi HealthWays, San Diego CA. Dr. Fitz-Gibbon (Chen Cheng Fei) is also a 13th Generation Chen lineage holder and a formal disciple of Master Tsao.
Way of Peace Taijiquan Levels of Progress
In traditional taiji there are no grades or colored belts to indicate progress. Some adepts were always recognized as masters after many years of daily practice. In taiji, all are students. Others recognize masters in an organic rather than organized way.
However, as taiji is growing in popularity in the west, many schools are introducing grades and colored belts (usually sashes in taiji) to encourage students in their progress. There is no uniformity and no central grading policy. Grades and colors are distinctive to each school. Way of Peace Taijiquan has a way of marking student levels of progress that imbed taiji philosophy.
- All are students and all levels are student levels
- There are four colors that represent Chinese mythology, symbolism and philosophy: Green Dragon (beginner), Red Phoenix (intermediate), White Tiger (advanced), and Black Tortoise (senior).
- Each level has four stages so there are sixteen levels in all. A sash in the appropriate color may be worn when practicing.
- Levels are based on hours of taiji practice rather than on number of forms or techniques learned, or on skill, dexterity and performance. In traditional taiji students practiced in one posture, without movement, for many years. In that spirit, it is the development of internal energy that is important rather than the number of forms learned. It is impossible to measure the development of qi, but hours spent in practice is a more helpful guide. An older student who can only practice seated will be able to move through the levels as well as an athletic teenager. Students keep a taiji journal to record practice times, forms learned, Yi-Jing reflections and other related thoughts.
- If a student practices one hour each day it will take around thirty to thirty-six months to reach the thirteenth level, Black Tortoise. The next three levels require even more dedication and commitment. To complete all sixteen levels practicing one hour a day will take twenty-five years. At half an hour a day it would take fifty years. In other words, students are encouraged to see taiji as a life practice.
Student Certificate for level 2
with Way of Peace and personal seals
Students of Way of Peace Taijiquan register with the school and keep a log/journal of taiji/qigong practice if they wish mark growth though levels of progress.
Students have come to Way of Peace Taijiquan from:
- An undergraduate course taught by Dr Fitz-Gibbon "Somaesthetics: Body Consciousness." On the course, students learn meditation, breathing, and basic taiji
- Friends of students in the class
- Students in the SUNY Cortland taiji club where Dr. Fitz-Gibbon is faculty adviser and instructor;
- Clients from Dr. Fitz-Gibbon’s philosophical practice
- The Internet and word of mouth.
Students can learn any of the following:
- Warm Up 18 Form*
- Shi San Shi*
- Chen Family Silk Reeling*
- Simplified 24 Form*
- Yang Long Form 108*
- Chen Old Frame*
- Tai Chi Bang Eight Immortal Flute*
- Eight Immortals Cane Routine*
- Push Hands*
- Eight Pieces Brocade Qigong*
- Qigong Meditation for Self-Healing*
- Five animal Frolics Qigong*
- Immortal's Wand Qigong (taiji ruler) meditation exercises
Students are encouraged to get the DVD for each routine taught by Master Jesse Tsao (* above).
If you are interested in exploring learning together, please contact: