I was first introduced to Tai Chi Chuan by a karate instructor from Quebec.
We had brought him to the Yukon to teach Karate to us and ended up spending half our time learn the long form of the Yang style.
This has become fairly common with many of the Karate people I practised with. Some would consider it cross training within the martial arts world. Others, an enhancement of both physical and mental development to better understand what they practise.
That winter, as so often happens in the Yukon, I offered classes in order to continue to practise what little I had learned from this man. I can assure you, I was in no way qualified to teach Tai Chi but did not want to lose what little I had learned.
It was a few years later that someone moved to the Yukon with far more experience and training then I had to do justice to this deep and profound martial art from China.
Cheryl Buchan moved to the Yukon in 1989 and, that fall, offered to teach one of the five styles of Tai Chi to people in Whitehorse.
After a few years, some of her students also began to teach and, through them, made this martial art one of the most popular organizations in the Yukon.
Today, you can see people practising the movements in parks, campgrounds, gyms, senior facilities, alone or in the company of many others.
The Yukon is truly blessed with people like Cheryl Buchan, Pam Boyde, Helen Dobrowosky, the late Jeanne Maddison, Jo-Anne Gates, Lisa Pans and many more who have continued to offer first-rate instruction and continue to develop their own personal understanding of this practice.
They hold seminars, bring in instructors from all over the world, have camps (not just in Whitehorse but also out in the communities) and are willing to teach just about anyone with a interest in Tai Chi.
Part of their teachings also include sword work and push hands training. Many of the instructors travel and train with others in order to continue their own personal development which they are then able to pass on to the people of the Yukon.
Each instructor brings their own unique approach to teaching and it is up to the student to find the one that works best for them.
The most popular style taught in the Yukon and elsewhere in the world is from the Yang family, but there are four other major styles that are practised around the world: Chen, Wu, Sun and Wu/Hao.
Some people practise more than one style while others stay very close to one particular teacher and style.
Some movements are fast and hard while many are done slowly with great emphasis on form and placement of body mind and energy.
In the west, the slow movements are what most people recognize as Tai Chi. However, like many other martial arts, there is a strong component of weapons training with the emphasis on sword work.
The Yukon has all of this and more. Tai Chi is one martial art that is for all ages and the benefits are truly multi-layered.
Todd Hardy has studied and taught a variety of martial arts over 38 years and trained with many people from around the world. Would you like to comment on what you read here? Contact him at [email protected]