Tai Chi at BSP

Tai Chi at BSP

We teach fitness oriented tai chi classes designed for all ages and skill levels.

Operating as usual

[06/02/19]   My Tai Chi Journey

I started tai chi back in the early 2000s. Initially it was a way of improving my balance and coordination for kung fu, which I started in the summer of 2001, but somewhere in the ensuing years something changed. I went from training to achieve a goal in a different field to training tai chi for its own sake.

So, what changed?

I think one of the first things that changed for me is getting rid of my preconceived notions as to who tai chi was for.

When I started tai chi I was approximately 25 years old. My previous exposure to tai chi was entirely through tv or movies. I could be watching a travel program and to show they were in China the host would be talking to the camera and in the background there could be some elderly people doing tai chi in a park. Another example would be a commercial for some pharmaceutical company and there were would a group of older individuals in white silk uniforms doing tai chi in a meadow or some other bucolic setting. All that just fueled a notion that tai chi was for the elderly or those somehow limited in their mobility or with high blood pressure. It was a false notion, but that was the attitude I was starting with, “I’m 25, I’ve got at least 30 or 40 years before I need to start practicing tai chi!”

Those notions didn’t go away with my first, or even first several, classes. It took months or longer of classes and watching those significantly better at tai chi than myself to see that there was more to it than just a low impact exercise that could help improve your balance and mobility while you were in your twilight years. I would watch these more experienced students and could see in the different styles of tai chi a similar type of athleticism than I experienced in kung fu. They weren’t jumping six feet in the air but what they had in common was precision. All they had to do was ask their body to do something and it would deliver. There were similar demonstrations of flexibility, explosive power and physical awareness.

Once I moved past this stereotype I was able to let myself more freely explore what tai chi had to offer.

While not tai chi specific, judging from past experience I believe that there will be a great deal of carry over.


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Over 93% of purchases are influenced by social media. ow.ly/REpl6 @NUsocialmktg

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Learning about convergence as one of ‘Five Global Truths’... I think the truth about Symbiosis is getting a little frayed. With every conglomerate getting their own streaming channel competition in increasing. @NUsocialmktg http://ow.ly/REpl6 @RandyHlavac @judyfranks

Also, working on a new blog post on how I moved from wushu to tai chi. What are some of the things that attracted you all to tai chi?

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What is Social? | Coursera

I’d like to learn about the Insights, Planning, Empowerment and Engagement phases in the Capstone Project. ow.ly/REpl6 @NUsocialmktg @RandyHlavac @Coursera #SocialMktg

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[05/14/19]   Now on Twitter.

[03/22/19]   Is My Tai Chi Too Fast?

Short Answer: That depends.

Long Answer: For many forms, there is a suggested time frame for how long a form takes. For example, the 24 form is generally said to take between 4-6 minutes and the 108 form takes approximately 30 minutes. But how fast or slow your tai chi pacing should be is determined by your breathing. With some notable exceptions (I’m looking at you, Single Whip) and variations due to stylistic differences, each movement includes an inhale and exhale portion. Therefore, you should be moving only as fast or slow as you can comfortably breathe.

If, for something like Brush Knee Palm, you are taking two or three breaths to complete the movement, you are going too slow. Conversely, if your finish the movement before you complete your exhale, you are moving too quickly. Over time, you can learn to slow down or speed up your pacing to make the suggested times for whatever form you are practicing. Then you just need to adjust your breathing to match.

[01/29/19]   Reverse Stepping

The two issues most people encounter in Reverse Stepping is either taking too large of a step or taking too narrow of a step.

Symptom A: Your front foot slides back towards your rear foot when finishing a step.

Diagnosis: You are taking too large of a step back. The way to fix this is start by taking smaller steps. You might have to experiment a bit to get the right distance for you. Erring with too small of a step back is preferable to taking too large of a step back.

Symptom B: You feel off balance when finishing your reverse step.

Diagnosis: Your steps are most likely too narrow. In Reverse Stepping it is very easy to take too narrow a step because when you finish the movement your rear heel turns in, and in some schools they will have you turning the front toes as well. In an ideal world the front toe will align with the rear heal. An easy way to visual this process is to imagine that your front foot is standing in the center of the front of a square. When you take your step back aim for the back corner of the square. If your left foot is stepping back aim for the back left corner. If your right foot is the one stepping back aim for the back right corner. This way when your rear foot turns in there will be enough space (width wise) between the feet to avoid being on the same line or crossing over.

[11/19/18]   Pro-Tip #5

Tips for Self-Correcting your Forward Stepping

Here are a couple of quick things to look for, what they mean, and how to correct them.

1. When stepping your foot drops to the floor in the last couple of inches. This generally indicates that you are taking too large of a step forward and losing your balance forcing you to drop your foot instead of setting it down gently. To fix this shorten your step. You will have to experiment with the distance a bit to get this right. The ideal distance is when you have full control over your step from beginning to end. You’ll know you’ve hit the mark when you can stop at any point in the movement without losing your balance.
2. When your rear foot slides backwards after you step. This happens when you don’t open your front foot enough at the beginning of your step. To fix it remember to open your front foot approximately 45 degrees when you start your step. This way when you finish you won’t be putting a twisting pressure on your knee when you finish, which is what causes most people to readjust by sliding back on the rear foot.
3. You feel off balance when finishing your step. For most people this generally happens when the distance between your feet, when going from left to right, is too narrow. To fix this make sure your steps are slightly wider. If you are facing forward with your feet shoulder width apart imagine there is a line going from the front of the room straight through your middle and wall the way to the back of the room. When you finish any given step you want to make sure that your feet end their side of the line. Your left foot will finish on the left side of the line and your right foot on the right side. You will begin to feel unstable when both your feet are directly on that imaginary line. Or, when your feet are on the wrong side of the line you might feel completely off balance and struggle not to fall over.

[11/12/18]   New pro-tip coming soon on self-correcting reverse and forward stepping. I know, the anticipation is excruciating.

[10/28/18]   Pro Tip #4

Introducing Instability Into Our Balance Drills

In this post I will be introducing two new balance drills based off of the drill you practiced in Pro Tip #3 (which I will refer to as Balance Drill #1). If you haven’t read that post, I recommend going back and doing so now. I’ll wait.

Balance Drill #2 -- You will start the drill in the same position as Balance Drill #1 - that is, standing upright with one foot slightly elevated and the leg fully extended a little bit in front of your base leg. Next, while keeping the leg fully extended, you will trace a circle in the air just above the floor using our foot. Do this ten times with each foot. You can also practice reversing the direction of the circle. For now, keep the circle relatively small, with a diameter less than a foot. Unless your bodyweight is perfectly centered over your supporting leg, the movement of tracing a circle with your other leg will cause you to wobble.

Balance Drill #3 -- You will again start in the same position as Balance Drill #1. This time, instead of making a circle, you will trace a figure 8. When tracing the circle in the second drill, you are only going in a single direction, which is a little easier to compensate for while maintaining your balance. The multiple directional shifts of the figure 8 complicate this. Just when your body compensates for your leg moving in one direction, that direction shifts and forces the body to compensate in a different way.

In the beginning, I would suggest keeping a moderate to slow steady pace until you begin to feel more comfortable with the drills. Are these three drills getting easy? Or were they already easy and now you’re looking to up your balance game? Not to worry, I have one more post left in this series focused on balance. The next post will include simple modifications to increase the level of difficulty once again, so stay tuned!

[10/23/18]   Pro Tip #3

Let’s Talk About Improving Our Balance

ProTip #2 focused on making the most of the balance you already have. Just going through the movements and forms of tai chi will gradually improve your balance. But doing just a couple balance specific drills can speed up the improvement of both your balance and your tai chi as a whole.

This first drill is the bedrock on which all the future balance drills are based. Find a place where you can stand near a support (a wall, the back of a chair, or something else stable that you can use to catch yourself if you begin to feel unsteady).

Now, while standing within arm’s reach of your support, lift one foot just an inch or two off the ground and hold it just a little bit in front of you. Balance on that leg for approximately ten seconds. It is okay if you need to set your foot down or hold onto your support when doing this drill. Just pick your back up as soon as you are ready and keep counting. After finishing with the first leg, repeat this with the other leg.

You may notice that you are a lot more stable on one side than the other. This is perfectly normal. Just like people are right or left handed, most people will have a leg which is more stable to balance on than the other.

This is the first step in improving your balance. Stayed tuned for Pro Tip #4 later this week where I will discuss taking this drill to the next level.

[10/17/18]   Pro Tip #2

The Basics of Balance

Here are three quick tips for making the most of the balance that we already have. Later in the week, we will go over some drills to improve our balance.

1. Focus your gaze at a stable spot in front of you. Look at a painting, doorknob, smudge on the wall, or even a tree trunk. The trick is that the spot you focus on should be stable. Don’t watch your pets, kids, or YouTube videos. If your spot moves, it will make it harder to maintain your balance.
2. Wear thin soled shoes. If you are wearing running shoes, sneakers, or any other shoes with a thick squishy sole, it will affect your balance. Think about wearing something like a pair of Converse All-Stars, wrestling shoes, or even slippers. These will give you a more stable foundation on which to work whereas the thicker soled shoes will continue to depress as your weight shifts, making you more unstable.
3. When balancing, or even just standing, you want your weight to be evenly split forwards and backwards, meaning you want it focused in the arches of your feet. If you feel your weight in your toes or heels, that means your weight isn’t centered. Again, this slight shift in weight from the center of your feet will make it more difficult to balance.

[10/12/18]   Pro Tip #1

It can be difficult for those just starting out in tai chi to know what to do with all your limbs. It can seem like your arms, legs, hands, and feet are all doing completely different things. Over time, we learn that there are reasons and patterns to all the movements.

One useful tip for beginners is that whatever one hand is doing, the other hand usually does the opposite. For instance, in the technique Slipping Back (also called Repulse the Monkey), one hand will move forward as the other slips back. In Parting the Horse’s Mane, as one hand moves forward and diagonally upward, the other hand moves down and back.

While there are exceptions to the rule, I find that this little trick really helps learning the movements and forms. I often use it when refreshing a form or learning a new one. By keeping this rule of thumb in mind, I can simplify the process of learning and recall by following the pattern of hands moving in opposite directions. This also helps make the exceptions to the rule stand out more and makes them easier to learn as well.


tai chi push hands

Push hands for after your legs transition to tree trunks:


five kinds of chen style tai chi chuan push hands.practised by wuyingfeng(red) chenxili(white)


Chen Xiaowang fajin

A demonstration of fajin by Chen Xiaowang.


Beyond Strength Performance NOVA

New Tai Chi at BSP blog post!


How much of your day is routine?

You wake up and get going with yours, and at this point you don’t even have to think about it, right?

You probably commute to work the same way every day, not even noticing the sights and sounds as you go.

You constantly check your phone for emails, texts, Facebook, Instagram, the news, … throughout the day.

But what about…

- when you wake up to a screaming baby, you’re out of toothpaste, or the coffee maker broke (gasp!), …

- when there’s an accident on your regular routine and you have to reroute, there’s terrible traffic, or some other disruption…
- you forget your cell phone or it isn’t working


Today’s blog is another from BSP NOVA member, Jeremy Brown. Not only does Jeremy bring a consistently sarcastic tone to most Monday, Wednesday and Friday 9am sessions, but he also teaches a tai chi class, right here at BSP NOVA, every Saturday at 11am.

Jeremy will be contributing to the BSP NOVA blog every month, and today marks his third one!

I love the way that Jeremy talks about routine and introduces some ideas for shaking them up in today’s post. The awesome thing is that while he’s talking about tai chi, everything he says ties into regular, everyday life (like the examples above), but also to strength and conditioning.



Tai Chi at BSP's cover photo


Balance - BSP NOVA

Blog post number TWO!


bspnova.com The idea of balance invokes a lot of different ideas in our society: work vs. family, family vs. friends; wants vs. needs. Even in terms of fitness, the idea of balance encompasses several different ideas: left side vs right side, upper body vs. lower body, strength vs. conditioning, jazz vs metal,....


Delaware grad and tai chi master training Olympic athletes in Pyeongchang

"Tai chi helps reduce stress and relax athletes, as well as helping with breathing."




Your Stress Reduction is Stressing Me Out - BSP NOVA

Our first Tai Chi at BSP blog post:


bspnova.com “Tai chi is supposed to reduce my stress, not add to it!” When I first started tai chi in 2002 it was because my kung fu instructor told me that I needed

Tai Chi at BSP

Instructor Jeremy Brown at Beijing Shi Chai Hai Sports School in 2006 where he learned the Chen 56 form.

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