Hello, I’m Kevin McMonagle, and I’ve been practicing Tai Chi Chuan and Chi kung for over 20 years. I feel that my health and well being have benefited greatly from practicing Tai Chi and Chi Kung and I teach classes in both of these arts share what I’ve learned. I usually teach Chi Kung and Tai Chi classes in northwest Co. Donegal, Ireland, sometimes in Letterkenny, sometimes in Gweedore and sometimes in Gortahork.
The type of Tai Chi and Chi Kung that I teach
The Tai Chi that I teach is the 108 Yang Family “public” method, from the 3rd generation of the system. The Yang Tai Chi public method is one of the best low-impact exercises ever devised, and was designed to be vehicle of total self transformation. Included in this system are the 108 movement Tai Chi form, pushing hands, da lu, he jian and dao swords and meditation methods.
The entire 108 tai chi routine is quite long and takes several years to learn, so it is beyond the scope for most people to learn the entire form. Luckily, the masters who developed this form created sections that work in a progression and have their own ending point. A student may learn up to one of these sectional breaks that suits their needs, there is really no need to learn the entire 108 sequence to get the health benefits. I see little to no benefit in practicing or teaching the various tai chi short forms that are popular today when the original form contained these stand alone sections. This also allows for students who want to go farther in study to continue on without learning another Tai Chi form.
During my Tai Chi classes in Donegal I also teach the Ba Duan Jin Chi Kung set.
A Focus on Health and Longevity
My Tai Chi teacher, Master Li was an acupuncturist and was focused on the health and longevity benefits of Tai Chi. He believed that in the age of firearms that Tai Chi’s greatest asset was in health preservation. As such it is not the best system for fighting, but it does work for basic self defense situations. Master Li was also a master of a type of seated Chi Kung, because of this health-focused tai chi training method, Master Li enjoyed abundant health until his death at the age of 99. He would say that proper daily tai chi practice would add 20 years to a persons natural lifespan.
Risks of Injury with Incorrect Tai Chi Practice
There is next to 0% chance of injury from practicing the Yang public style of tai chi as it was traditionally practiced, however, some other types of Tai Chi, as they are taught today, can result in injury, when practiced incorrectly over long periods of time, especially by dedicated students who put in time and effort. I know many Tai Chi teachers above 40 with injuries, usually in the hips and knees. Most people do not practice regularly or long enough to accrue injuries, but for the 20% of students who practice diligently it is very important to find the right Tai Chi teacher and practice correctly.
Common reasons people get injuries from Tai Chi practice:
1. The Tai Chi teacher is not qualified, and learned from the seminar circuit and videos, spending very little time training with a master.
2. Incorrect use of fa-jin, the method using power in Tai Chi.
3. Practicing one of the wu-shu based Tai Chi styles, which are based on theatrical performance than on the health or martial principals that Tai Chi was founded on.
4. The Tai Chi class does not teach proper body mechanics.
I was lucky and learned from a traditional Tai Chi teacher over a period of many years, before Tai Chi was popular and before YouTube. I never had to learn from the seminar circuit, which is the standard method that tai chi teachers learn from today. I also have a personal rule to never learn anything from video. My own Tai Chi teacher, the master Li Yeung Chen, lived to be 99 and could do postures lower than most people a third of his age. I usually tell people that without access to traditional Tai Chi Training it is better to take up swimming, hiking or even cycling, as these exercises provide some of the same benefits without the risks.
Thursday Morning Tai Chi Class in Dobhair , North West Donegal.
Note this class is out for the summer.
Join us for Thursday morning Tai Chi class in Dobhair at 11:00. In the summertime we meet on the beach.
Beginners, intermediate and all levels, Tai Chi and Chi Kung. We practice the first part of the Yang 108 Public Form as well as the 8 Pieces Brocade, Ba Duan Jin, chi kung set. We focus on chi kung and health in this class, influenced by the methods and interests of the class founder Charlie Cullen.
Here are some of the health benefits of Tai Chi class, especially if practiced outdoors:
- Tai chi improves your balance, especially by increasing leg strength and improving posture.
- Tai chi warm-ups and form practice increase flexibility and range of motion.
- Yang-style Tai Chi breathing deepens and relaxes the breath.
- Tai chi push hands training develops the ability to use the ground as leverage.
- Dedicated Tai Chi training gently tones and strengthens the body evenly.
More about the benefits of Tai Chi and how to get them.
Read More about my experience as Tai Chi teacher in Donegal Ireland.