Péiyǎng shēntǐ. Péiyǎng shēngmìng.
"Nurture the body. Nurture Life."

Grandmaster Feng Zhiqiang

We offer in-depth training in the beautiful and profound art of 
Chenshi Xinyi Hunyuan Taijiquan Hunyuan Tai Chi for short —
a style of Tai Chi developed by Grandmaster Feng Zhiqiang that blends: 
• Chen-style Tai Chi, the ancient martial style of Tai Chi, with 
• Hunyuan Qigong, Taoist life energy cultivation.

Why Qigong?
(pronounced "chi-gung") 
Most people associate Tai Chi with its beautiful flowing practice forms. 
But there are two other equally important areas of practice that contribute to
a full Tai Chi training experience:
gong and tuishou

Tuishou, or "push-hands", is partner work, and includes everything from 
gentle cooperative partner training to full-bore competitive sparring 
(with beginners, we stick to cooperative partner training through our 
Balance-Based Push-Hands™ program).     

Gong means "internal self-cultivation"and includes everything from
Neigong (breathing, meditation and spiritual practices), to all the
various forms of Qigong 
that have been developed over the centuries
specifically in support of Tai Chi, notably: 
Dynamic Qigong (also known as Chansigong or "silk-reeling"), a
physically vigorous mind/body conditioning routine
 • Hunyuan Qigong ("primordial life energy cultivation"), a gentle,
meditative qigong routine to rebalance internal energies
• Zhan Zhuang 'Standing Post' Meditation, a standing/walking
meditation very similar to Zen   
Historically, the relationship of Qigong to Tai Chi is that of ancient ancestor to modern descendant:

Qìgōng shì tàijí de gēnyuán.
Tàijí shì qìgōng zhī huā.
"Qigong is the root of Tai Chi.
Tai Chi is the flower of Qigong."

So studying Tai Chi without studying Qigong at the same time is like 
focusing on your car’s paint job but ignoring its engine, drive train and gas tank: it may look good on the outside, but it's empty on the inside:

Hen hao kan,
dan meiyou yong.
"Very good looking,
but of no use."

In creating Hunyuan Tai Chi, Grandmaster Feng returned Tai Chi to
its original deep roots in Qigong, roots that once were closely-guarded secrets given only to family members and indoor disciples. 
We follow his lead at our own school: 
we focus on building strong foundations.

"The art of nurturing, the science of power..."
We teach both the arts of Tai Chi and Qigong, and the Taoist sciences of meditation and the energy body that underlie them, with an emphasis on:
                 zhong ding  •  centering & integration
          xinyi  •  mindfulness
        song  •  relaxation 
       ting  •  listening 
         ziran  •  naturalness
  liu  •  flow

We offer five programs:

We welcome all serious students of the internal arts.
If you have questions, or would like to arrange an orientation session and 
trial class, drop us a line here.

Above: At the Academy's 2018 Chinese New Year Celebration.
Master and Mrs. Zhang (center front, seated) joined us for a wonderful evening.
For more photos see Gallery I: Year of the Earth Dog.

Attendees at last year's Tai Chi Retreat in the Sierras.
Head instructors Malcolm and Annie Dean, front center.
For more photos see Gallery II: The Annual Retreat

Many doctors and other health care professionals now suggest to their patients that they take up Tai Chi for its known health benefits. Although they’re right about the health benefits, very few doctors practice Tai Chi themselves, so they don’t realize how complex Tai Chi choreography can be, and how long and difficult the learning curve can be before you get to the “good stuff” health-wise.

In some places, like the Mayo Clinic, special "easy" Tai Chi classes have been developed for patients in recovery. This is a wonderful way to introduce a simplified version of Tai Chi to those who need it most. At the present time, however, we do not offer "easy Tai Chi". For this reason, we strongly suggest that after completing the Foundation Studies Program, anyone working primarily on health issues enter the Qigong Healing Arts Program for several years before attempting our quite rigorous Tai Chi programs.


Qigong (pronounced “chi-gung”) is a health art, while Tai Chi is a martial art. Qigong will therefore get you to the good stuff health-wise faster and far more directly than Tai Chi, while at the same time building the foundation skills and experience necessary for Tai Chi, should you eventually decide to go that route.

With a few years of Qigong under your belt, you’ll be way ahead of the curve when you start Tai Chi; you will learn Tai Chi much more quickly; and your

Tai Chi will be much more satisfying and much more effective. Why? Because:


“Qigong is the root of Tai Chi,

Tai Chi is the flower of Qigong.”


Their relationship is that close. In the meantime, you will be working directly on your health issues, including centering, grounding, balance, flexibility, strength, and especially vitality and a sense of overall

well-being. In fact, after being introduced to Qigong, many people find that it satisfies all their needs.


• What it feels like to do Tai Chi the right way
(With special thanks to local Bay Area kinetic sculptor Reuben Margolin)
Reuben's kinetic sculpture is a beautiful evocation of the inner essence of 
Tai Chi. It's also remarkably similar to Tai Chi's inner structure and dynamics: 
• The motor is similar to the dantian, the heart and engine of the energy body 
• The long curved cams shown at the beginning are like the spine
• The ever-changing net is like the physical body
• The almost-invisible strings are like one's mental intentions
• Perhaps most importantly, Tai Chi, like Reuben's sculpture, integrates the
physical, the energetic, the mental, and the spiritual in one effortless motion.
  No artist creates work at this level without years of practice.
Tai Chi is just the same.
But you can find the flow right from the beginning,
if you know where to look:

“Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel
and kiss the ground.”
— Rumi


• What it's like to study Tai Chi seriously

— a letter from a student —


Hamza T. 

Malcolm, when you said [that learning] tai chi is like learning music, having gone through music school I think I can attest to that: the process seems very similar to me in many respects, including the fact that it takes a long time to be any good at it, and there are no shortcuts.


I've long thought that [learning taiji] is most similar to learning to sing. My best friend with whom I studied music at UCSC was a voice major. He's a very good singer and has given me many pointers and lessons over the years and talked to me about the process of learning to sing.


He sings his own songs, but he received training as a classical singer, including opera singing. Similarly to tai chi, there are just things that an opera singer can do with their body that are unusual and remarkable, even just as physical feats — sheer volume, projection, etc — but its deeper than that, since it is also expressive; an art form.


I think part of the similarity is that it is hard to teach singing, and there is an advantage that a bone-head guitarist like me has, in that you can just point to the hands and fingers and say "do this, do that" with your hands, whereas singing has more to do with the internal musculature of the diaphragm, vocal chords, throat, facial muscles, all sorts of other subtle aspects I'm sure.


Now, I'm being a bit hyperbolic, because of course guitar as an art form involves those too, and you can’t be any good just by doing the "external" craft of playing guitar. But you can at least begin in guitar by focusing on the external.


In voice you sort of can, but you're really forced to deal with very subtle and hard to explain [internal] things right from the beginning. I think it's why many people feel that you have to be "born with it" to be a good singer.


Anyways I had these thoughts in the car ride home [after tai chi class] and practiced some singing, and then came home and played guitar and sang, and had a distinct moment of noticing I could modulate the timbre of my voice [just] by changing the locus of my attention: moving it further upwards into my nasal passage, while at the same time relaxing my throat and chest — a good example of the use of mental intention that you mentioned in class.* 


By using this technique I was able to sing notes in the higher register of my voice in a much more relaxed, easy and better-sounding way than I probably ever have. I also noticed when I lost it and started to strain and tighten the throat. It became really clear by contrast.


This epiphany came after my buddy Nick tried to explain to me how to do that FOUR YEARS AGO. And it didn't actually click until [tai chi class] today. I think that's kinda funny.


Performing that kind of subtle internal body manipulation is hard to do, especially while you juggle so many other variables at the same time, like melody, pitch, intonation, words, expressiveness, etc. It’s that very juggling of multiple streams at the same time as you relax deeply that reminds me so much of tai chi. Also, playing and singing require a similar form of unravelling unconscious/bad habits. I remember that started immediately the first time my guitar teacher ever watched me play. 

So I think the analogy between tai chi and music is very strong.


Editorial note: Since one’s qi (chi) follows one’s mind, mental intention, or xinyi, is critical to both Taiji and Qigong. Developing and using xinyi is a major focus of the Foundation Studies Program for beginners.