Willow Moon Tai Chi History

Willow Moon Internal Arts

History of Taijiquan

Last update:  04/12/23

Being a compilation of many scholarly articles and interviews with members of the taiji families.  

It can be difficult to plow through the fascinating history of taijiquan.  Scholars have studied its history and continue to sort out objective fact from legend. In China, the origin of taijiquan has been the subject of scholarly research (historiography) for many decades.  In fact, this study has taken on a life of its own.

There are several well-known styles of taijiquan.  Within each style of taijiquan (e.g., Yang) in China today you can find “modern” and “traditional”, and each can look a bit different.  The important thing to remember is that it is wonderful that there are multiple rich styles of taijiquan. If basic principles are adhered to, it is taiji. The key principles are balance and relaxation with intent leading and controlling body motion.  That body motion uses the waist as the turning axis and is interconnected; when one part of the body changes, all the body changes.  For serious practitioners, taiji involves attending to energy flow through body channels known as meridians.

There are competing theories and even controversy about the origin of taijiquan. This article will not focus on the controversy.  What we present here is not presented as THE truth, but simply one plausible version.  This version has taijiquan originating in the Wenxian County of Henan Province in China.  It was probably not originally called taijiquan.  It may have initially been called “Thirteen Postures.”  Postures is probably not the most accurate translation, because it is not a set of static postures like yoga poses.  “Thirteen skills” might be a better translation.

First though, why do different styles even exist?  Different styles, named for the surname of the creator of that style (founder) exist because expert taijiquan players changed and adjusted certain aspects of the martial art.

Some of these changes “caught on” and survived the test of time.  Some adjustments could have been due to the player’s body type.  That is, movements are different if you are tall and slim rather than short.  People move differently later in life than when they are in their twenties.  

Other changes were likely due to the emphasis on health vs. martial combat or even the personality of the practitioner. Some changes happened when a master encountered different needs on the part of the students.  Some differences in routines came from a martial application being visualized or where the opponent is coming from during the “shadow boxing”.   Whatever the reason, multiple changes were made by each practitioner during their lives.  True masters were constantly exploring and improving all the time, and such exploration brought about variation.

Social status of the player could have played a role in what the form looked like.  In the hierarchical social system of old China, the educated elite could not be jumping around like common foot soldiers, so routines may have been modified accordingly.

Taijiquan is seen today as a major division of the traditional Chinese martial arts, or wushu.  It derived its name from the term taiji which first appeared in the Yijing, The Book of Changes (compiled during the Zhou Dynasty, 1122-249 B.C.).  “In all things exists taiji the two opposites in all things.  The two opposites cause the four seasons, and the four seasons cause the eight natural phenomena.”  An understanding of basic Chinese philosophy, medicine, and cosmology (e.g., Taoism, yinyang, Five Elements, Eight Trigrams, energy meridians) can deepen one’s appreciation of the art.  

One history of taijiquan centers around a small town in Wenxian County, Henan Province:  Chenjiagou “Chen family drainage ditch”, or Chen Village. Much of the history of taijiquan is a history of people flowing into or growing up in Chen Village, learning and teaching, and flowing out again circulating the art.

A popular starting point is when Chen Wangting (1597-1664), garrison commander for Henan province, evolved a form of boxing about 300 years ago.  This martial art, rather than being practiced at a constant fast and hard pace, was practiced dramatically slowed down, with occasional fast release of stored energy.

Chen Wangting would have learned the family martial arts that had been handed down from his ancestors, and very likely studied at the Thousand Year Monastery.  This monastery included Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism.

At the Qianzai (Thousand Year) monastery in Tang village, about 30 miles from Chen Village, Li Daozi (b. 614) is credited with establishing “Wuji Method of Nourishing Life” and “Thirteen Posture Exercise (Shi San Shi)”.  Li Chunmao (1508-1666), wrote an essay entitled “Discussion on Wuji and Fist Wushu” and another called “The Verse for the Practice of the Thirteen Postures.”  These routines were wujiquan, the likely precursors to taijiquan.

There is a reference to an essay that includes Chen Wanting as one of the writers.  It is found in the “Li Family History” (Genealogy).  The essay is called “Essay on the Taiji Method of Nourishing Life.”  The actual essay has been lost.

Two other authors of the essay are brothers Li Xin (birth and death dates unknown) and Li Zhong (1598-1689).  Together with their cousin Chen Wangting they created “Taiji Health Cultivation Thirteen Postures.”  This may very well be the art we now know as taijiquan.  

Some historians say Chen Wanting wanted to separate himself from his cousins for political reasons (Li Xin was considered an enemy of the government, being involved in rebellions to overturn the existing powers.)  So, Chen Wanting, living in Chen Village, created his own version of thirteen postures as part of this separation.  He may have been the one to come up with the innovation translated as “push hands”, the sensitivity training activity that allows for close combat practice. Whatever the ultimate truth, while in his 80’s he began to combine his martial arts with qigong, medicine, and Taoist philosophy to make his martial art unique.

The writings mentioned above from the Li Family documents later became attributed to one Wang Zongyue.  These writings are philosophical in nature and do not include any routines.  They systematically sum up the application of taiji philosophy to wushu or fighting arts.  The book is called The Taiji Classics.  The philosophy states that all things in nature contain both yin and yang:  masculine and feminine, hard and soft, bright and dark. It may be that in this treatise a form of boxing was first given the formal name of taijiquan.  The word taiji refers to yin and yang. quan literally means fist; the concept is that it represents an unarmed system of boxing.  Wang wrote, “What is Taiji?  It is generated from Wuji.  It is the mother of Yin and Yang.  When it moves, it divides.  At rest, it reunites.”

Although a Wang Family Genealogy has emerged, nothing for certain is known about Wang Zongyue’s teachers, personal history, or martial art.  When he lived is inferred from his writing style and people and things he references and is a controversy in and of itself.  

Up until about 150 years ago, Chen Family wushu (Thirteen Postures)was mainly practiced in the countryside of Henan Province, in relative obscurity. Yang Luchan (1799-1872), a native of Hebei Province, was employed by the Chen family.  Chen Changxing (1771-1853), 14th generation, was teachingto his family and village members, and eventually allowed Yang Luchan to become one of his disciples.  Finding credible biographical information on Luchan outside the Yang family is difficult.  Stories vary about how he became a student of Changxing, but it is safe to assume Luchan showed impressive proficiency and communication skill to be allowed into practice as an outsider.  Yang Luchan spent several years studying with Chen Changxing and is said to have become one of his best students.

In 1852, Yang Luchan left Chen village and began teaching wushu, first in Yongnianxian and later Beijing.  This was the beginning of the spread of what we now call taijiquan.  Yang Luchan was asked to teach the Palace Battalion of the Imperial Guards.  Some believe that it is at this phase that the term taijiquan became attached to the movements, because Yang Luchan was impressed with the principles and philosophy found in Wang Zongyue’s tretise.   It was probably only after Yang’s wushu became famous in Beijing that the name taijiquan became attached to this martial art.  Yang was likely teaching what is now known as old frame one (13 postures) and old frame two (Cannon fist).  Some historians have said that Luchan’s style was locally called “soft boxing” or “transformation boxing”.

Yang Luchan must have been an amazing martial artist, because he earned the name “Invincible Yang”.  Stories of Yang Luchan say he was never defeated, yet never allowed an opponent to come to harm.

Outside of Chen Village, once someone mastered the taiji routines and the internal aspects, these masters would make variations. The first two generations of Yang’s likely kept most of the qualities of Chen style.  It is hard to say what the routines were then because there is little record of them.

Luchan’s sons Banhou (1837-1890) and Jianhou (1839-1917) made modifications to the “frame” in which routines were practiced.  They created routines with higher stances and shorter movements.

By later in the third generation after Luchan, we know from photographs that the more explosive moves, stomping and jumping had disappeared from Yang’s routines, but not necessarily from Yang family personal practice. The official story from the Yang family is that these more difficult moves began to disappear when Yang Luchan was teaching in the emperors’ court.  It was likely a gradual process over a few generations, but we don’t know for sure.

Over the next decades, other “styles” were developed.  Yang style was and remains the most popular.  Yang Luchan had three sons, two of whom carried on his art with great skill: Yang Banhou (sometimes spelled Pan-hou) with a very aggressive personality, and Yang Jianhou with a gentle personality.  Contributing greatly to its popularity was a son of Yang Jianhou and grandson of Yang Luchan, Yang Chengfu (1883-1936).

Yang Chengfu had the gentle personality of his father and showed little interest in the martial art until his teens. Once he began to teach, his gentle personality attracted many followers.  He is credited with being the first taiji master to openly share the art with the general public.   Yang Chengfu changed his way of doing the form during his life and we know because there are photo sets of his form from different periods.  By the time Yang Chengfu systematized the Yang family taijiquan, the movements of his form were big and softly flowing at an even pace, without stomping, jumping, or energy-releasing.  It is sometimes referred to as “big frame”, with frame referring to the boundary within which the movements are performed.  It is important to remember, though, that the way a form is practiced is a training approach; in martial application, a technique is done at the speed and “frame” required to be effective.  Yang Chengfu produced many great and influential students, including Dong Yingjie (a teaching assistant for Chengfu and editor of his first book, who later brought his own variations to Yang style.), Chen Weiming, Fu Zhongwen ( Chengfu’s nephew, reported to be the practitioner who practiced the longest with Chengfu, with great push hands skill), Li Yaxuan, And Chen Manqing, ghost writer for Chengfu, who did much to further the popularity of taiji in the United States in the 1970’s. 

In 1912, several prominent taijiquan instructors, including Yang Chengfu, were invited to teach their art at the Beijing Physical Education Research Society (or Institute).  This institute was founded by Xu Yusheng, who was a student of Yang Jianhou and Yang Chengfu and probably of other masters as well.  This institute still exists today, and Xu Yusheng helped increase the notoriety of these masters through his books.    

In 1926, Yang Chengfu was invited to teach at the newly formed Central Goushu (national arts) Institute as the taijiquan teacher.  Yang Zhenduo (1924-2020), third son of Yang Chengfu, traveled the world teaching his great grandfather’s art.  His grandson, Yang Jun, makes his home in Seattle and carries on the family art.

The taijiquan family with the longest history is Chen.  Chen Wangting’s taijiquan has been handed down from generation to generation.  Chen Wangting is usually counted as the ninth generation from the founding of Chenjiagou.  Chen Changxing (1771-1853, 14th generation) is generally credited with synthesizing the martial routines created by his ancestors into what is known today as Chen’s “old frame” sets, which are believed to be practiced basically unchanged to this day.  Old frame is characterized by smooth flowing movements interspersed with explosive strikes and kicks. 

Another 14th generation Chen, Chen Youben, is credited with a variation called “small frame”. It is likely that both the large (old) and small frames developed at the same time.  Small frame is sometimes associated with nearby Zhaobao Village, which intermingled with Chen Village. Some speculate that small frame emerged as older, advanced masters practiced their routines as one single flowing movement, without energy releasing but returning that energy back to the center (dantien).  Current practitioners of small frame, however, have a lot of power releasing in their routines, so it is difficult to say.

Chen Fake (17th generation) is the most famous Chen master of the 20th century.  Much of his fame came from his ability to defeat all challengers without hurting anyone.  He also developed many students who gained fame, including Tien Xuichen and Feng Zhigiang,   

Chen Fake is credited with a version of the old frame, now called “new frame”, which makes the characteristic “silk reeling energy” even more overt.  It features a visible manifestation of the internal spiraling that is more hidden in other versions of taijiquan, including old frame.  Chen Fake developed this version in his later years.  It is speculated that this version was a teaching method to help the student understand the internal energy.

In 1928 Chen Fake and Chen Zhaopei (18th generation) were invited from Chen Village to Beijing and Nanjing to teach.  Apparently, the practitioners of other established styles did not even believe they were seeing taijiquan with its stomping and jumping and power releasing movements.  They were quite confused that the form had the same number of moves and underlying structure pattern and the same or similar names of the moves.  This underlying structure pattern is quite strong within all taijiquan.  The Chen’s skill eventually won everyone over, and Chen became recognized as the precursor to all other styles.  Chen style has spread far and wide, especially through the tireless efforts of 19th generation grandmasters such as Chen Xiaowang and Chen Zhenglei.  Another famous student of Chen Fake was Feng Zhiquiang, who merged Chen with Six Harmonies Xinyiquan to create Chen Shi Xinyi Huanyuan Taiji

Chen Zhaopei  (Zhaopi) is credited with bringing Chen style back to Chen village in 1958.   By then both the village and the practice of taijiquan had fallen into a sorry state.  What he taught is now referred to as Laojia (Old Frame).  Chen Zhaokui, Chen Fake’s son, is the main person responsible for promoting Xinjia (New Frame) practice in Chen village, after Chen Zhaopei’s death in 1972.  The top students from Chenjiagou, competing in tournaments throughout China in the seventies, were said to have come up with the names old frame and new frame, as they were competing using both types of routines.

Another style, Wu, was popularized by Wu Jianquan.  His father, Wu Quanyou (1834-1902) was a student of Yang Luchan and learned a Yang small frame variation from Yang Luchan’s son, Yang Banhou (1837-1892).  Wu Jianquan learned from his father, then developed his own form based on the small frame variation.  Its stances are higher and smaller, with a forward lean of the torso, never losing the elongation of the spine.  This is sometimes called “slanted but straight”. The body and rear leg form a straight line, giving the body a slanted posture while forming a straight line along the back from the head to the rear heel.  Both feet point straight ahead.

There is another W’u school.  In the tonal language of Chinese, the two are pronounced differently.  What is helpful in English is that this W’u school is also referred to as the Hao style, after Hao Yeizhen (1849-1920) who popularized this style.  The school was established by W’u Yuxiang (1812-1880), a scholar and government official.  W’u Yuxiang studied taijiquan from Yang Luchan.  In 1852 he went to Zhaobao in Wen County where he studied small frame with Chen Qingping (1795-1868), and developed a new style based on the two styles.

Yang Luchan and W’u Yuxiang were good friends, and they shared all their knowledge with each other, and worked together to apply Wang Zongyue’s Taiji Classics to their art.  According to relatives of W’u grandmasters, it is through this collaboration that the jumping and stamping techniques and hard and fast movements gradually began to be changed.

W’u Yuxiang eventually abandoned his career to devote his life to Taiji.  He combined Confucianism, war strategy, martial arts and Traditional Chinese Medicine to create a new taijiquan style, characterized by higher stances and compact movements.  He taught this style to his nephew, Li Yiyu.  Li Yiyu’s writings helped explain the theoretical underpinnings of martial arts based on taiji principles.  He wrote (1867) “Essays on Taijiquan”.  These essays include a list of wushu movements learned by W’u Yuxiang from Yang and Chen Quingping called “Thirteen Postures”.  Li Yiyu taught Hao Yeizhen, who taught publicly and did so much to spread this style that his name is associated with it.

Hao Yeizhen taught Sun Lutang.  Apparently, Sun Lutang helped Hao through a serious illness around 1914.  Sun Lutang (1860-1930) was already a master of baguazhang and xinyiquan Some records suggest that Sun Lutang may have been the first martial artist to be a master of all three.  His writings are the first to speak of taijiquan baguazhang, and xingyiquan as sister arts.  Sun’s philosophical mastery combined with his martial skill allowed him to fuse these arts and philosophies into his new style, which he is said to consider the crowning achievement of his life.  The style includes the evasive body movements of baguazhang and the obvious martial tactics of xinyiquan.

Since 1949 the Chinese Government has developed Modern Competitive Wushu as a competition sport.  In the 1950’s wushu was introduced into the physical education curricula, and the Chinese Wushu Association was established in Beijing.  Compulsory forms were created for competition, with required movements and required difficulty, much as today’s Olympic ice skating.

It is fascinating the way the politics of China has played a role in the spread of taijiquan. When China closed its doors to the outside world with the Cultural Revolution, many skilled taiji players chose to flee to Hong Kong or Taiwan, and from there began to spread taiji to the world, slowly but surely.  Chen Manjing was especially influential in Taiwan and later the United States.  Some of his key students include Benjamin Lo, T.T. Liang, and William C. C. Chen.

Prior to Chen Manjing, karate and judo were the primary Asian martial arts known to the world.  But even then, no one outside China was aware of Chen Taijiquan until the Era of Reconstruction when China began opening its doors again.  Then, with the introduction to the world of Modern Competitive Wushu from people like Shouyu Liang, Bow Sim Mark and Roger Tung, people were exposed to Chen Style.

The Japanese were especially inquisitive about Chen Style.  Taijiquan is popular in Japan.  In 1981 a Japanese taijiquan association, researching the origin of taijiquan, made a pilgrimage to Chen Village.  This turned out to be a landmark event, as people from other villages flocked to Chen Village to see the Japanese!  Plus, the event received extensive news coverage, and Chen village suddenly was known.  Thus, people around China knew about traditional Chen taijiquan where before it was not as well-known as Yang Style. This opened the floodgates for people around the world to begin to visit and train in the birthplace of all taijiquan, and that pilgrimage continues to this day, with thousands of annual visitors.

Blake Emery

Willow Moon Internal Arts

Summer 2017 Newsletter

Summer Sessions begin July 3rd

Greetings everyone and Happy Summer!

Check below for info and links to upcoming summer sessions in the parks and studio, which classes are happening in which parks, upcoming dates for workshops with Master Art Baner, Master David Leung, and Master Shanti as well as info on the next in the Spiral Qigong series.

Also, we have a new online method for registration, check it out and let me know what you think.

The following classes will be meeting in the parks as noted below:
-Mon. & Wed. Morning Qigong,
-Mon, Wed, & Fri. Morning Chen Taiji and
-Mon & Thurs. Evening Chen Taiji will all be in
Firehouse Mini Park at the corner of 18th and Cherry (Map)-Tues & Thurs. morning Yang Taiji will be in
Lincoln Park at the north end by the intersection of 47th Ave SW and Fauntleroy Way SW (Map)

In addition, in Burien, the
-Tuesday & Thursday morning (10:45am) Tai Chi and Qigong for Everyone and the
-Chen Taiji evening class (6pm Tues) will be held in the
Greenhouse Park behind the HiLiners on 144th Ave SW near 4th (Map)

Saturday morning classes will be held at Pratt Park.

Remember to bring water and layers and anything else to keep you comfortable as we move into practice outdoors. If you have bee allergies, be sure to keep any necessary medication on hand. And remember, if you have to turn your wipers on past intermittent on the way to class, we’ll meet back at our home base indoor location. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

The following classes will be indoors:

-Tai Chi for Seniors, Mon. 10:15am at Wise Orchid Studio

-Tai Chi for Seniors, Tues. 1pm at Renton Senior Activity Center

-Intro to Tai Chi – Fundamentals for Beginners, Wed. 6pm at Wise Orchid Studio

-Tai Chi for Seniors, Thurs. 2pm at West Seattle Senior Center

All Summer Sessions are now up on our Calendar Page.

Please join us for FREE Intro to Qigong and Intro to Yang Tai Chi nights being offered at South Seattle College on July 12th and 19th, following  with new continuing sessions of both beginning in August in the garden.

Also, we’ll be offering mini-intensives in the Spiral Qigong in July and Sept. for 3 Saturdays each. There are new sessions of Tai Chi for Seniorsand Introduction to Tai Chi-Fundamentals for Beginners happening at the Wise Orchid Studio beginning this coming week.

All classes are open for registration now.

Master Art Baner returns on Sunday, Aug. 6th for an exploration in the partner work of Push Hands. Check here for more information and sign up early to reserve your spot as space is limited.
Master Leung will be here for a series of Qigong, Tai Chi Principles, and weapon workshops on Sept. 9th and 10th. Save the dates and details will be following soon!

And, Master Shanti will be back in Seattle for a full day of workshops, followed by a day of private lessons on October 15th and 16th. Improve your practice through correcting your alignment, gaining power through connection. Save the dates and registration information will be up on the calendar shortly.
We’ve had a remarkable break studying with Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei and his family and senior disciples. Chen Juan, his daughter gave us a very thorough breakdown on the Chen Single Straight Sword form and I look forward to our Weapons classes on Saturday to bring new corrections and details to the group.

Photo By Master Billy Greer, fellow disciple of Chen Zhenglei and owner of Jing Ying Institute in Maryland.

Looking forward to seeing you in the parks and at the studio and enjoying a great summer of deep practice and fun. Thank you everyone!

Spring News & Events

Spring at last… it seems as though it has been a long and dark winter. With longer brighter days ahead, there are many great opportunities to get your Qi flowing!

First, we’ll be taking a break between quarters and there will be no classes from March 24th to April 1st, then we’ll begin Spring session with a Sunday practice of Push Hands and Broadsword on April 2nd at the Studio from 10am to noon.
Look below for the full spring schedule and links to class registration. Registration is now open.
Then, coming in April, we’ll be hosting Master Shanti on April 22nd for a training in Structure, Internal Power, and Connection. There are still a few places left. Jump on them as this fills fast.

And, as is our tradition, we’ll be celebrating World Tai Chi Qigong Day at Cal Anderson Park Saturday, April 29th from 10am to noon. Spiral Qigong, Push Hands, and Broadsword will not be meeting and all are encouraged to join us in the park for an extra practice to join the millions of people sending healing energy around the planet.

Also, you may be aware that this year we have a new special series of mini-workshops to support social justice, the environment, and other important causes. The first, Standing for Social Justice, was held on Jan. 14th to raise funds for ACLU. Many people participated and contributed in an afternoon of Silk Reeling and Standing and together we raised over $2000!
Then, just this last Friday, March 17th, we took another take on Green for St. Patty’s day and offered a Spiraling Qigong session to benefit Conservation NW. We are still accepting donations for this great organization to help protect wildlands, connect habitats, restore wildlife, and more. Please make checks out to Conservation Northwest and get them to Viola by the end of the day on Thursday, March 23rd.

Look below for details on our new special series on the Spiral Qigong starting April 8th, at 9am. Spend 8 Saturday’s with us “firming your roots!”

In May, I am excited to be hosting Master Arthur Baner on Push Hands Techniques. See the details below.

Then, in June, Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei will be offering another of his Light of TaiChi summer camps, this time in Toronto. There is still time to get an early registration discount, so get your registrations in soon, and join us there if you can!

Lastly, Rus and I had an extraordinary trip to Costa Rica over the holidays, meeting rare birds in the cloud forest, howler monkeys foraging in the canopy, and finding a fitting retreat center for a Tai Chi and Qigong retreat to bring you with us next year. January 2018 we’ll be returning to Costa Rica to offer a journey into deep practice. Details below on how you can join us!

Master Shanti’s workshops will now be held on April 22nd in the afternoon and evening at Wise Orchid Studio. With two sessions on Structure, Internal Power, and Connection as well as integration with movement and partner work. Link here for information and registration.

Spring schedule of classes

Wise Orchid Studio:
-Mon. & Wed. 7:30am, Qigong
-Mon. & Wed. 8:45am, Chen Taiji
-Mon. 10:15am Tai Chi for Seniors
-Mon. & Thurs., 6:00pm, Chen Taiji
-Wed. 6:00pm, Intro to Tai Chi
-Fri. 8:45am, Advanced Chen
-Sat. 9am, Spiral Qigong
-Sat. 10am, Push Hands
-Sat. 11am, Weapons Class
West Seattle Classes:
-Tues. & Thurs. 8:30am Yang Taiji @Center for Movement & Healing
-Wed. 5:30pm Yang Tai Chi for Beginners @SSC
-Wed. 6:45pm Qigong @SSC
-Thurs. 2pm Tai Chi for Seniors @West Seattle Senior Center
Burien Community Center:
-Tues. & Thurs. 10:45am, Tai Chi for Everyone
-Tues. 6pm, Chen Taiji
-Wed. 10:45am, Qigong
Renton Senior Activity Center:
-Tues. 1pm, Yang Tai Chi & QigongFull Calendar of Classes Here.

Details about the Spiral Qigong Series

Starting in April, we’ll be offering a new Saturday Qigong Series, beginning with Spiral Qigong. Join us for 8 Saturdays, not including World Tai Chi Qigong Day at 9am-10am.

The Ba Fa Pan Gen (Eight Methods to Firm your Roots) Qigong comes from the internal Chinese martial art of Xing Yi, and is designed through it spiraling movements to cleanse and heal the body. The twisting movements of this Qigong stimulate the energetic pathways in your body (meridians) and massage your internal organs while developing a more stable foundation, improving the strength and structure of your legs.

Master Authur Baner will be joining us May 6th in the afternoon for the beginning of a new series of workshops focused on Push Hands skills.
The art of Taijiquan consists of both solo and partner training. Solo practice teaches us about our relationship with ourselves and with gravity while partner training takes that to a new level with the introduction of “external” forces. It allows us to study conflict and harmony in a way that is both effective and a lot of fun.
In this series, we’ll progress from our foundations of form practice, moving into single and double hand exercises that lead to stepping practices and a 2 person form. Link here for registration and more information.

This year, Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei’s Light of TaiChi camp will be held in Toronto, Ontario Canada! Here is a link to registration information and details about the camp. Not only will there be a training offered for beginners as well as advanced this year, but also there’ll be an opportunity to compete. Have a look and join us, eh!

And Lastly, over the winter break, Rus and I journeyed to Costa Rica to take some time in the cloud forest and celebrate my 50th year on the planet. We also researched retreat centers where we might host a Tai Chi and Qigong Adventure Training Retreat and we succeeded! We discovered the beautiful Pura Vida Retreat Center, where we will be hosting a training adventure intensive in January 2018. This is a great opportunity that I am so excited to be offering. Please check out our Costa Rica Retreat webpage where you’ll find information about the location, the training, and cost and then put your deposit down to reserve your spot. For 7 days of training, lodging, and delicious meals, it’s a great deal. Pura Vida!!

So much to look forward to in practice and community this spring. As always, I am grateful to you for joining me in this exploration of deeper connection.

Peace and practice,

New Home – Wise Orchid’s Very Own Studio, Summer News and more:


There are many exciting things afoot with Wise Orchid this summer.

  • First off, we have a new home: Our Own Wise Orchid Studio!! Yes, I get the keys this Friday, and we’ll be starting out Summer Session on July 4th at our new home with 7:30am Qigong.
  • To celebrate independence in more ways that one, all of Monday’s classes in the new home will be open and free to all.
  • Also, with the new space, we have freedom to offer new classes! Look below for the info on new classes as well as returning summer sessions.
  • Then, we are excited to welcome Master Shanti back to Seattle for a couple workshops to improve your structure and push hands on July 23rd and 24th. Look below for details.
  • Now that the sun is here for a few months, many of our sessions will be moving back out to the parks. Look for us in Lincoln Park, the arboretum at South Seattle College, and the Burien Community Park/Skate Park and Annex Park. If you are not sure of the location, please check our calendar for updated locations or contact Viola.
  • And, Mark your calendars for Master Leung workshops on October 8th!
New Home

For many years now I’ve been teaching wherever there was space to share and people interested in learning. I know that in going to many different locations, I have been able to teach many more people than I would reach in just one spot. And yet it has been my dream to create a space that was Wise Orchid Taijiquan & Qigong. A place that not only myself, but all the students would consider their home. It’s happening now. Less than a week ago, I made the commitment and signed a 5-year lease for our new studio.

We are having a soft opening there this coming Monday, July 4th, and all regular Monday classes will be happening there and free to the public. And, going forward, all classes that were formerly held at Emerald City Aikido on Capitol Hill and the Chinese Wushu TaiChi Academy in the International District will now take place at Wise Orchid Taijiquan & Qigong. We’ll be having aGrand Opening Celebration on Sunday July 31st. Please let me know if you are interested and able to help organize and plan this event.
Our new home is at:

2002 E. Union Street, Seattle, WA 98122

This is the before shot. Katy’s cafe is on the corner to the left. After shot soon to come.

Welcome Home Everyone!

Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei’s training camp, Duanwei Exam, 20th Anniversary Celebration of Chinese Wushu TaiChi Academy and Disciple Pledge Ceremony was a huge success and an incredible week to be part of and participate in. Thank you everyone who pitched in whether you were helping carry water for the snack table, registered arriving participants, or covered classes while we were training. Congratulations to Rusel DeMaria who pledged and became a disciple of Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei. After 17 years of Tai Chi practice, many of which were with Grandmaster Chen and your years of dedication to the art, it is an honor, well deserved not only for your accomplishments, but also your heart of service you bring to the tradition and your leadership.

In addition, John Howe, after staying long past other participants in the regular workshop classes, studying, practicing and testing for the 4th level Duanwei and did an amazing job! Congratulations!

MASTER SHANTI will be returning July 23rd and 24th for another training in structure and a new session on push hands drills. If you missed last time, you know after hearing everyone talk about the amazing learning, that this one is not to be missed.

Each session is $55 in advance or $65 at door. If you pre-register for both, $100 total.

New Classes

With the new studio we have flexibility and space to offer more classes.
  • Beginning in July, we’ll be offering a An Introduction to Tai Chi for Beginners and for students who want to improve their fundamentals. This class begins Wednesday, July 13th, 6pm – 7pm and will run 9 weeks. This is a great place to start if you are interested in beginning your practice or want to dive deep into your principles work. Taught by Sifu Rusel DeMaria, this class can stand alone or be included in your unlimited class tuition.
    Link here for more information and to register.
Summer sessions are now open for registration and begin next week. Join us:
  • South Seattle College Tai Chi for Beginners in the Garden, Wed. 5:30pm beginning July 6th
  • South Seattle College Qigong in the Garden, Wed. 6:45pm beginning July 6th
  • Burien Tai Chi for Everyone, Tues & Thurs. 10:45am at the Burien Community Park
  • Burien Qigong in the Park, Wed. 10:45am at the Burien Annex Park
  • Burien Chen Tai Chi, Tues 6pm at the Burien Annex Park
  • Senior Tai Chi & Qigong at the West Seattle Senior Center Thursdays 2pm – 3pm, register in person.
  • Renton Tai Chi & Qigong for Seniors, Tues 1pm at the Renton Senior Activity Center, register for this class in person.
  • International District and Capitol Hill Chen Tai Chi as well as Qigong on Capitol Hill will begin Monday, 7/4 at our new location with a free class. You can register there in person for the remainder of the session or sign up online here.
  • Traditional Yang Tai Chi at the Center for Movement and Healing, Tues & Thurs. 8:30am – 9:30am will move outdoors to Lincoln Park, look for us north of the wading pool.
  • NEW: Introduction to Tai Chi, Wed. 6pm-7pm at Wise Orchid with Sifu Rusel beginning July 13th, and runs for 9 weeks.
  • NEW: Tai Chi for Seniors, Mon. 10:15am – 11:15am, at Wise Orchid, begins August 1st and runs for 8 weeks.

Other exciting news: Save the Date! Master Leung will be returning to Seattle on Oct. 8th to share some of his vast experience with some extraordinary energy work. Info will be up on the website shortly.

And, folks who have been interested in 2 person sparring sets will be happy to hear thatMaster Art Baner will be here in late August to launch a series on the Yang 88 form. I will send out more info once I’ve got the details.

And, lastly, now that we have our new home, we have an opportunity to share our space. If you or someone you know is interested in renting out studio please contact Viola. There are many hours that are available as you know I teach all over the place and I still intend to do so.

I continue to be humbled and blessed by your support and I thank you for your stepping into this practice with the vulnerability it takes to explore these arts and do something different to improve our lives. I thank you for joining me on this journey of discovery inward and am honored to be your friend and teacher.

Much love, and many deep breaths to come,


Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei Coming to Seattle & New Fall Sessions

Save the Dates!

Chen Zhenglei workshops Jan. 14-17, 2016

Just in, exciting news that Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei will be back teaching in Seattle for the first time in many years. Some of the topics to be covered: Silk Reeling, Old Frame 1, Old Frame 2, New Frame 1, and Straight Sword. Please stay tuned as details and more news to follow.

In preparation for Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei’s visit, I’ll be offering pre-camp training on Fridays and Sundays. Whether you plan to attend the workshops or not (are you kidding me?!) you are welcome to join in these fun and expansive training experiences.
  • Fridays Beginning in December, expanding the ongoing advanced Chen class to 2 hours beginning 8:45 to 10:45.
  • Sundays beginning Nov. 29th from 12:45 – 1:45pm Sword at CMH
Contact Viola if you are interested, pre-registration required. Please no drop-ins. Cost is included in your unlimited tuition. Donations appreciated to cover cost of studio rental.
Starting soon, late fall sessions of the Ba Fa Pan Gen (Spiral Qigong, the 8 Brocade Qigong, and Intro to Tai Chi: Fundamentals for Beginners. Details below. Registration is open now.
Spiral Qigong 4 week session in West Seattle at the Center for Movement and Healing!
Sun., Nov. 29 – Dec. 20, 11:30am
Cost $90, or included with your unlimited Tuition
Registration open now.
Intro to Tai Chi – Fundamentals for Beginners is a new class at SSC on Wed. this late fall beginning Nov. 18, this 4 week session ends Dec. 16 and is from 5:30-6:15pm

Also on Wed. nights beginning Nov. 18th is the 8 Brocade Qigong (Ba Duan Jin), from 6:30-7:15pm at SSC. This series will also be 4 weeks ending Dec. 16th.

Also, a thank you to everyone who came out and supported the workshops with Master David Leung and enjoyed his visits to our regular classes. Pretty beautiful time and practice. Coming Nov. 21st, he’ll be teaching in Vancouver, WA. Here’s a link for more information.


And, if you hadn’t heard, on October 18th, Wise Orchid Taiji family joined with Viola’s Tai Chi sisters Hong Yijiao and Wang Ning and their students to take part in a world Tai Chi practice and broke the Guinness Book of World Records for the greatest number of people practicing Tai Chi at the same time.

Here is a link to one of three articles from local papers, this one in english, and a video taken of some of the participants in China.

It was such fun to participate in this even though it was last minute notice, I want to give a shout out to those who with little information said yes and showed up. Heather Islander, Dawn Aiken, Leo Manzano, Jeff Allen, John Lindsay, John Howe, Rose Slavkowski, Terrill Chang, Kevin Tegmeier, Lisa Glendenning, Jan Ritter, and Rusel DeMaria. Doing Wise Orchid very proud!

And, lastly, just a reminder of our holiday schedule.
No class days:
  • Nov. 11, Burien Comm. Ctr. Closed for Veteran’s Day. Regular classes at Emerald City Aikido are still on.
  • Nov. 25-28th we are on break for Thanksgiving
  • Dec. 23-31st we are on winter break.

Thank you everyone!

Much love and gratitude,

September Events!

Special Weekend with Master Leung! and Free Trial Classes to celebrate the coming of fall!

Master Leung returns to Seattle on September 19th & 20th for a weekend workshop series to push your practice to a new level. Get your registration in by September 5th to save $10 per class!
Join us Saturday the 19th for Yin Yang Medical Qigong and Universal Tai Chi Principles.
Then Sunday, all are welcome regardless of experience level to practice the Yang Tai Chi Broadsword.
Details below:

Register for Master David Leung's Tai Chi and Qigong Workshops coming up on September 19th & 20th here in Seattle!

Register for Master David Leung’s Tai Chi and Qigong Workshops coming up on September 19th & 20th here in Seattle!

Also coming in September, Burien Community Center’s Free Fitness Trial Week! Join us for the following free classes:
  • Tuesday, September 15th, 10:45am, Tai Chi for Everyone in the Lakeview Room, Burien Comm. Ctr.
  • Tuesday, September 15th, 6:00pm, Chen Style Tai Chi in Hilltop, Burien Community Ctr., and
  • Wednesday, September 16th, 10:45am, Qigong – Health of Body, Mind & Spirit in the Lakeview Room, Burien Community Center
Also, we are offering a demonstration class and trial of Tai Chi and Qigong at South Seattle College on September 23th at 6pm at the Chan Center, Classroom 101.

For more information about any of the classes, contact Sifu Viola Brumbaugh.

December 2014 – New Classes, Free Classes, China Trip Pics, Rates for 2015

New Classes, Updated Schedule, News from China & 2015 Rates.
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December 2014 News for Wise Orchid Tai Chi & Qigong

Hello Tai Chi family and friends,

What a year this has been! Such great depths of training, practice and discovery.

I’ve been decompressing from my training, preparation, and subsequent trip to China where I demonstrated, competed, trained and won a gold medal along with silver and bronze medals in the three events in which I participated. With nearly 1,000 people in attendance, most of whom were Chinese nationals, it was an amazing honor and a very humbling experience even being there. Here is a link to my flickr page where you can see pictures and check out the scenes from Chen Village, the birthplace of Tai Chi.

With all the new learning from my teachers here on the West Coast, and in China, I am excited to be sharing a more expansive curriculum in the year ahead, including more opportunities to touch in with some sensing hands as well as more advanced empty hand forms, partner work, and weapons play.

Look below for the details on the new classes being offered and go to the website to see the new schedule for Winter 2015.

Also, Wise Orchid will be taking a break between the holidays and then returning with some free classes for new students to try out when we start back up in January. Look below for the details and tell your neighbors and friends.

In other news, our rent has gone up across the board. This means that I’m having to increase class fees. Take advantage of the Holiday Specials before the end of the year to save a heap on next year’s fees. See more info and details below.

Holiday Class Schedule – No Class Days, Free Class Days!

This holiday season, we’ll be on class break from December 24th to January 4th.  Coming back on January 5th, we’ll have the following FREE classes:

Monday the 5th:

  • Qigong, 7:30am at Emerald City Aikido, 604 19th Ave E.
  • Chen Taiji, 8:45am at Emerald City Aikido, 604 19th Ave E.
  • Chen Taiji 6pm at Chinese Wushu Taichi, 709 1/2 S. King St. in the ID

Tuesday the 6th:

  • Yang Tai Chi, 8:30am at The Center for Movement & Healing, 7901 35th Ave SW, West Seattle
  • Tai Chi for Everyone, 10:45am at Burien Community Center, 14700 6th Ave SW
  • Free Chen Taiji, 6pm at Burien Community Center, 14700 6th Ave SW

Wednesday, the 7th:

  • Free Qigong, 10:45am at Burien Community Center, 14700 6th Ave SW

Free classes are a way to spread the word and help promote these classes that you love so that they can continue and grow, helping to improve more peoples lives. Bring a friend and let’s spread the practice and the benefits of better health, balance, focus, calm, and energy.

Rates increasing and shift to quarterly sessions (for Capitol Hill, International District & Morning West Seattle Classes)

Tough News: Due to our rent going up in all locations by 25%, I have to raise my rates by 10% for 2015.

Good News: Take advantage of the Holiday Special on now through January 8th, with 10% off current class fees. Yes, that means 20% off next year’s tuition paid as far in advance as you’d like!  See the details below!

And, Simplification: As of the first of the year, ongoing classes at the Center for Movement & Healing, Emerald City Aikido, and in the Int’l Dist. locations will be changing to a pay by the quarter system. If you have prepaid for part of the quarter at the beginning of the year, the remainder of your fees will be pro-rated based upon last year’s rates so that all tuition is due at the beginning of each quarter.  Each quarter will be 12 weeks, with one week off in-between. (Yes, drop-in cards are still available and folks can begin at anytime.)

If you’ve been paying by the month, I’d like to work with you to help this transition be as workable as possible. It is not my intention to create a hardship for anyone so let’s work together on making this an easy transition for all, I’m flexible…, but you already know that :). Please understand that this will make my life and hopefully yours a little easier in the long run.

Holiday Tuition Specials!Between now and January 8th, pay for your future class fees and save 10% on the current rates (that means 20% off next year’s tuition). Pay as far forward as you like. This special on tuition applies to the ongoing classes at the Center for Movement & Healing, Emerald City Aikido & the ID.)Quarter Sessions:

  • Unlimited classes per week $315 (saves you $70)
  • 2 classes per week $252 (saves you $56)
  • 1 class per week $180 (saves you $40)

Annual Memberships:

  • Unlimited classes $1200 ($266 savings)
  • 2 classes per week $972 ($216 savings)
  • 1 class per week $688.50 ($153 savings)

Drop-in Cards:

  • 10 class card $166 (saves you $32)
  • 20 class card $288 (saves you $64)

Also, Beginner’s Packages will be on special now thru the end of January:

    $55 for your first 4 classes (a $20 savings), bring a friend and the two of you only pay $90 (after Jan. 31st, goes up to $75 for one, or $120 for 2).

To take advantage of this Holiday Special, please pay by check or cash.


  • Spiral Qigong in West Seattle! Sundays Jan. 11 – Feb. 8th, 1-2:15pm, 5 sessions at $90 alone or included in unlimited membership. Register in advance by contacting Viola.
  • Sensing Hands in West Seattle! Sundays, Feb 22nd to March 22nd, 11:30am to 1pm, Connect deeper with your form and structure, have fun and learn the adhering, flow, and listening skills of sensing hands. $90 alone or included with unlimited membership. Register in advance by contacting Viola.
  • Intermediate/Advanced Chen on Capitol Hill! Friday mornings starting on February 13th, 8:15 – 9:30am – Weapons & 2 person training. Make room in your schedule and plan on joining me Friday mornings. Register in advance by contacting Viola.
  • Qigong in Burien: Wednesday mornings beginning January 7th, 10:45am, I will be offering a new Qigong class at the Burien Community Center.  Focusing on healing and therapeutic work, this class is a good addition to your Tai Chi practice, or can be taken alone if you’ve fallen out of practice and want a gentle return to energy work that strengthens the body bringing relaxation and better vitality. Registration is open now at the Burien Community Center.
  • Senior Tai Chi & Qigong in West Seattle! Thursday afternoons starting January 8th at 2pm at the West Seattle Senior Center! We have a new time and new classroom! Please spread the word so we can grow this class and bring better balance and health to more folks! Register with Viola when you come to class.

Remember, Take advantage of our discount: 25% off for vets, additional family members, and students over 70 years. Applies to classes at Center for Movement & Healing, Emerald City Aikido, and the ID classes.

Check the website for a listing of these and all other classes with Wise Orchid Taijiquan & Qigong. New sessions of Senior Tai Chi and Qigong in Renton, evening Chen Taiji in Burien, as well asYang Tai Chi and Qigong at South Seattle College begin the first week of January!

Thank you all for an amazing 2014!
Be well, Stand Tall, Drink Water, Breathe Deeply.
Joy and peace to you, your family and friends. And, I look forward to seeing you in 2015.

All my best,

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Spring 2014 New Spiral Qigong Session & Quarterly Classes


Spring Classes

Starting in March, I’ll be offering another 5 weeks of Spiral Qigong at the Yogasmith Studio in Georgetown. It was a great success last time and you asked for more. Please get your registration in soon to reserve your spot. Email viola@wise-orchid.com. Details in flyer below.

Study in Suzhou, China with Ba Fa Pan Gen (Spiral Qigong) teachers Master Jiang and Grandmaster Wei, Sifu Viola Brumbaugh

Also, folks down in Oregon can study the Spiral Qigong next weekend in Eugene at Leung Martial Arts. Viola with be teaching at 3 hour workshop from 9am – noon on Sunday, Feb. 23rd. Register in person at the workshop, and find out more info and RSVP here at the FB event page , cost $40.
Lastly, new quarterly sessions start the first week of April at SSCC, Renton Senior Activity Center and Burien Community Center.

Register in person at the center/college and/or go to Wise Orchid’s Schedule & Locationspage for details and registration links.

Ongoing classes are open to registration anytime:

  • Traditional Yang 108 Tai Chi in West Seattle
  • Traditional Chen Taijiquan in the International District
  • Qigong to start your day on Capitol Hill
  • Chen Taiji’s 18 essential forms on Capitol Hill

Winter 2014: Free Classes, Special Events, New Qigong Class in G’town, etc.

    11 Free Classes – to start the new year!

@ Emerald City Aikido, Capitol Hill, 604 19th Ave E
Wed., Jan. 1st & Mon. Jan. 6th
Free Qigong at 7:30 am
Free Chen Taiji at 8:45 am

@ International District Studio (Chinatown), 709 1/2 S. King St.
Mon., Jan. 6th
Free Chen Tai Chi at 6pm

@ Center for Movement & Healing, West Seattle, 7901 35th Ave SW
Tues., Jan., 7th
Free Yang Tai Chi at 8:30am

@ Burien Community Center, 14700 6th Ave SW
Yang Tai Chi at 10:45 am, both Mon. Jan. 6th & Tues., Jan. 7th
then, Chen Tai Chi at 6pm, Tues, Jan 7th

     *New* Spiral Qigong in Georgetown!

Sundays, January 5th, to February 2nd, 10-11:15am
at the beautiful Yogasmith Studio in Georgetown, 5917 Airport Way S.
$70 for Yogasmith members, $85 for non-members (no drop-ins or make ups)
space is limited, email joelb@yogasmithseattle.com now to reserve your spot.

Spiral Energy Qigong, Sifu Viola Brumbaugh, Xing Yi Grandmaster Wei

Qigong (pronounced Chee Gung) is a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine as well as a foundational pillar of Chinese Martial Arts. Focused on cultivation of qi (energy), as well as opening up blockages in the medians, qigong practice allows energy to move more freely, thereby improving immunity, health, and vitality.

The Ba Fa Pan Gen (Eight Methods to Firm your Roots) Qigong comes from the internal Chinese martial art of Xing Yi (shing ee), and is designed to spiral, cleanse, and heal the body. The twisting movements of this Qigong stimulate the energetic pathways in your body (meridians) and massage your internal organs while developing a more stable foundation, improving the strength and structure of your legs.

The 8 movements of the Ba Fa Pan Gen – inspired by the spirit and natural movements of animals – spiral and expand the body in 8 directions, harmonizing inside and out. As you practice, you will strengthen and unify your legs and core, develop internal power and heal and cleanse your body of stale energy and toxins… and it’s a fun and dynamic practice that will reduce stress and leave you feeling energized. No previous experience necessary. Everyone welcome. visit the fb event here.

To sign up or for more information please email:  joelb@yogasmithseattle.com

Also, New Sessions of:

Chen Tai Chi in Burien begins Jan. 7th, 6pm, with a Free Class, followed by 11 more weeks of great practice!
New Beginners Tai Chi at SSCC in West Seattle, begins Jan 8th, 5:30pm
New Qigong for Stress Reduction and Health at SSCC in West Seattle, begins January 8th, 6:45pm
New Tai Chi and Qigong for Seniors at the Renton Senior Activity Center beginning Jan. 7th, 1pm

For a complete listing of classes, please visit our Class Schedules and Locations page.

Special Events!

Tai Chi Master Movie Matinee & Chinese New Year Celebration

Open House @  Burien Community Center, 14700 6th Ave SW,
Saturday, Jan. 11th, from 11-3pm,
Come participate or see our Tai Chi demonstration at noon!

Taste of Puer Tea, at Phoenix Teahouse, Burien
Saturday, January 25th, 10:30am,
2 spots left in this intimate class of tea tasting and education, $15 per person. Let Viola know if you are interested and snatch up the last two remaining spaces.

Sunday, Feb 2nd, 1pm
Liberty, 517 15th Ave E., Capitol Hill
Featuring: Tai Chi Master with Jet Li and Michelle Yeoh!
RSVP or find out more here

Thank you everyone for your kindness, dedication and continued support in the arts. I am living my dreams because of you showing up and choosing to do something healthy for yourself.  To all of you I wish the healthiest year of your life in 2014. Be Well. Breathe Deeply and make a difference in your own life.

Peace, Happy New Year, and All my best,