In order to improve health and prolong life, my teacher focused on the physical, mental and esoteric aspects of energy cultivation. Mr. Li did this by combining traditional yang style tai chi with a special form of qi gong. The system is suitable for most fitness levels and ages. If you can walk with a reasonably heavy backpack you are fit enough to learn tai chi. If not you can learn qigong or standing meditation instead.

Traditionally tai chi chuan was transmitted from teacher to student in a personal or group setting that included longer term students who acted as training partners. These classes were not like the 8 week tai chi courses available locally around Ireland today. If you are focused on energy cultivation however, you can benefit a lot through online tai chi classes. The basics you need are a energy focused form, body and mind states that are conducive to it’s flow and you need access to energy sources during your practice. Traditionally the teacher provided these things, but there are other sources. If you can learn to swim with online classes, you can learn to cultivate energy with tai chi online classes.

The tai chi I learned from master Li centered around the physical & mental states that allow the bodies energy to regenerate. I use the term energy to encompasses the three phases of, jing, chi and shen. For tai chi study it is not critical that one fully grasps these concepts intellectually. Authentic Tai Chi energy cultivation will improve your health and life. New age type tai chi also focuses on energy but most of it is imagination. Master Li was an acupuncture doctor and members of his community would often come and seek his treatment.

online tai chi practice in nature

I’ve been lucky with tai chi teachers

Whether learning tai chi online or in person, the most important thing is to learn an traditional method with a qualified tai chi teacher. My Tai Chi teacher, Master Li was an acupuncturist and who focused on the health and longevity (energy) benefits of Tai Chi. He believed that in the age of firearms Tai Chi’s greatest asset was in health preservation. To this end Master Li merged tai chi with a form of esoteric qi gong. Master Li was a sickly child who was sent to a family member to study tai chi and because of his training methods, he 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.

Class photo with Master Li Yeung Chen

After master Li passed away I looked high and low for another teacher with a similar system so that I could pick up my training where I left off. This proved to be difficult. I then realized how lucky I was to have had a teacher like master Li. The biggest difference I found when going to other tai chi teachers was the lack of breathing methods. When I hear a tai chi teacher say “just breath naturally” I immediately disregard their tai chi. The key to energy cultivation in tai chi practice is the deep synchronization of movement, intent and breath. After many years I finally found another teacher in the Yi Zong system. This system allowed me to continue on the path of energy cultivation, while at the same time increasing my martial arts power. My teachers in the Yi Zong system are Victor Chao and Edward Hines, both are incredible teachers that emphasize different areas of study. Roughly speaking you could say that I’ve studied both the Yi Jin Jing and Sui Xi methods, though I learned them in reverse order.


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