In the Rancocas Woods of Mt. Laurel, NJ, at 114 Creek Road, sits the Silver Tiger Studio for the study and practice of Tai Chi Ch’uang and Quigong. Silver Tiger is under the direction of Master Ting Kuo-Piao (William Ting). Master Ting teaches the Wu Ji Jing Gong form which emphasizes techniques to cultivate and develop calmness and awareness in human beings.
Tai Chi martial artists-whose basic, elemental techniques are punching, kicking, blocking, and taking down-have always appreciated many of the methods taught in Qigong, which means, “working with your Life Energy.” The syllable “Qi” signifies Life Energy, breath, or Life Force. “Gong” means “dedicated practice.”
Qigong is generally considered to have been around for 5000 years in the Orient. And if one thinks about it, every culture is going to have some form of Qigong, when one defines it generically as “working with your Life Energy”.
According to legend and lore, Qigong had its origins in communal healing dances and shamanic practices. Many different cultures have employed the idea of getting together and dancing around as a healing practice, of spontaneous movement, or of stylized movement imitating certain animals.
The monastic tradition, such as Taoist groups and Buddhist groups, started using Qigong practices to enhance their spirituality. That is, their qigong practices allowed them to go more deeply into meditation.
Qigong looks to bring the buoyant flexibility we had as young kids-and the kind of buoyant flexibility and vitality you see in wild animals-back into our lives. Qigong encourages sensitivity. Additionally, it encourages responsiveness, which is another quality valued by martial artists. The basis for good T’ai Chi practice is a combination of yi, zing, and qi (or “ch’i”): mind, posture, and energy. Relaxation, which can be strongly induced by Quigong, combines posture, mind and energy. “Calm within moving; moving within calm.” That is a very important precept while practicing T’ai Chi. Tai Chi Ch’uan: increases one’s energy and vitality; assists with weight control; builds strength and endurance; lubricates joints; strengthens and relaxes muscles; increases concentration and the ability to focus the mind; prevents and heals illness; restores yin/yang balance; maintains chi (energy) circulation in the body; and, calms down the mind and reduces stress.
Master Ting Kuo-Piao says, “When we begin to learn T’ai Chi Ch’uan, every student goes through the same experience of being too stiff and alternately too loose. Usually, students start with a body full of tension, especially in their neck, shoulders, and arms. When you watch them, their movements are stiff and jerky, and they complain of trembling, aching muscles. Most people don’t realize how rigid they are until their postures are corrected and they feel the difference. Genuine T’ai Chi Ch’uan has a vibrancy that can be both sensed and seen. The movements have been described as appearing like moving silk or flowing water. When the form is performed well, the movements are full, smooth, and continuous. The practitioner seems to be playing with some invisible force in space. People watching actually experience the feeling of fluid motion and find it very enjoyable. On the other hand, it can be uncomfortable to watch people practice T’ai Chi who are too stiff or too loose because that dynamic quality is not there. How can we avoid the mistake of being stiff or loose? The problem is that, in either case, there is a lack of energy within the posture. When practice is rigid, the learner is using muscle tension for support, which is expending energy but not circulating it. This is why it is so exhausting. Muscles are held tight, squeezing blood vessels, pinching nerves, and compressing the spaces between the joints, effectively blocking the flow of energy.”
Silver Tiger’s classes include the following.
Intro Classes: These classes are designed for the novice practitioner. If you have not taken Tai Chi or Qi Gong before, or had a brief exposure to Tai Chi or Qi Gong in the past, these classes are for you. An introduction class will teach you the basics of principles and posture necessary for successful practice. Sessions are limited to six week, one hour classes.
Intro to Qi Gong: Specifically limited to the study of Qi Gong. This class is especially helpful for students who are looking to reduce stress, control weight, or deal with injuries to the legs, back and knees. Every class Master Ting teaches (from introduction through advanced) begins with Qi Gong movements. They are a series of 15 stationary movements designed to improve balance, coordination and flexibility in a slow, measured pace.
Intro to Tai Chi: This class begins with approx. 35 minutes of Qi Gong movements and then proceeds into the very first part of the First Section of the Tai Chi form. While Qi Gong involves repetitive, stationary movements, Tai Chi involves a series of interconnected movements forming one continuously flowing form. This class will introduce you to the basics of posture, balance and coordination combined with moving steps, about turns, and stepping. Sessions are limited to six weeks; one hour classes.
There are many more classes from which to choose, ranging in levels from first-time beginner to advanced.