What is Tibetan Tai-Chi?

Developed over six centuries ago and brought to the West by Liu Seong (Count Willem Reeders), Tibetan Tai-Chi (TTC) predates the more well-known styles (Yang, Chen, Wu, etc) and has at least 4 times as many unique postures/moves with detailed instructions as to the method of breathing, weight transfer, attention, speed, etc. It is part of a larger system which he taught to very few students. TTC is a scientific method of physical and mental conditioning, consisting of a unique series of fluid and synchronized movements performed in slow motion in conjunction with a system of deep breathing. Breath is the basis of TTC, as it is of life. Because this technique involves no straining or jerking, but a slow progressive increase in effort, it is suitable for anyone who wants to improve their health and athletic performance, while increasing their resistance to injury. Only patience and consistency are important… your level of fitness is not. It will improve quickly once you begin serious practice.

Done properly on a regular basis, TTC increases energy and flexibility, normalizes the metabolism, improves muscle tone, and effectively manages stress.

TTC requires time to become proficient and thus requires diligence and dedication. Since each error diminishes the effectiveness of the form, the emphasis is on the correctness of each movement. It is better to learn a single move correctly than to learn a dozen movements superficially. Garuda’s classes are small enough to allow each student to progress at their own rate.

The Liu Seong System consists of 4 phases of TTC, 2 QiGong forms (one with Tao/reverse breathing), Tai Wu (2 of the TTC moves from the second phase repeated 15 times each), a Tibetan martial arts kata, a meditation practice, and other aerobic routines. The first 3 phases require a relaxed state while the 4th calls for complete tension and resistance. Although taught last, in actual practice one does the 4th phase first which promotes an absence of tension in the other 3 phases.

A typical class of advanced* students starts with 5-10 minutes of warmup and stretching followed by either Tai Wu or the 4th Phase of TTC, a sequence of 7 exercises done with isometric tension that builds strength and endurance.

Next, the group does QiGong A and B, a complex series of movements designed to heal injuries and chi blockages. Unlike typical QiGong, Liu Seong’s style has more complex movements, resembling martial arts katas. It also employs specific breath patterns that include reverse or Tao breathing. Students can learn QiGong A and B only after attaining sufficient proficiency in all 4 phases of TTC.

The 4th Phase and QiGong sets give the best results when done with heavy metal rings on the arms thus increasing the difficulty and enhancing the flow of chi.

After the above routines, the group forms a circle and does the first 3 phases of TTC in a slow, relaxed manner, following the leader who sets the pace by timing the inhales and exhales, usually 4 or 5 seconds each.

Time permitting, the group may do the Tibetan kata, a unique martial arts routine that incorporates aspects of many elements of the Liu Seong System.

The class ends with a sequence of breathing exercises that finish with a clearing of the lungs.

*Beginners warm up and stretch with the rest of the class and participate in Tai Wu. They will then get individual instruction from either Marilyn or Michelle. New moves in the form are given only when the student can demonstrate enough proficiency in what they have been shown before.