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What does a Tai Chi Teacher do?

By Lily Ruha
Updated May 17, 2024
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A tai chi teacher passes on his or her knowledge of tai chi to willing participants. Tai chi dates back more than 1,000 years in Chinese history. It began as a martial arts form and is practiced in the West for its health benefits. A tai chi teacher leads class participants through a series of positions and movements while educating them on the technique and benefits of this healing and martial arts form.

Aspiring tai chi teachers usually begin by taking an introductory class to familiarize themselves with tai chi basics. There are numerous forms of tai chi, so instruction and technique might vary from school to school and teacher to teacher. At the basic level, participants learn about stance, alignment and elementary postures. While performing the slow movements, the elements of balance and coordinated breathing are explored. The goal is to move the body fluidly and effortlessly, resulting in relaxation and inner calm.

As the aspiring tai chi teacher progresses through tai chi, more advanced levels are achieved. He or she learns about the connections between the mind and body. The concept of energy is discussed, as is the importance of its continual flow in the body for optimal health and spiritual calmness.

The pushing-hands exercise is taught in many tai chi classes to familiarize students with the martial arts aspect. In this exercise, students partner up and learn how to react to each other. The goal is to avoid reacting to forceful movement with equal force. Students learn how to tune into each other’s intentions and react in a way that redirects energy and avoids aggression.

Perfecting the art of tai chi generally requires studying with a qualified instructor, practicing regularly and committing to sharing the art form with others. Some tai chi training centers require that students first undergo these phases before signing up for a teacher training class. Other training centers do not have strict prerequisites and issue tai chi teacher certification upon completion of 300 to 500 class hours.

The graceful and fluid movement of tai chi is intended to create a feeling of being awake in the present moment. While practicing tai chi, the focus is only on each movement and one’s internal state. A regular practice of tai chi has been known to reduce stress, improve balance, lower blood pressure, increase muscle strength and elevate energy levels. Tai chi teachers work in hospitals, therapy centers and private studios around the world.

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