Larry Braniff
Mount Vernon, WA

Photo   credit     © Gregg  M.  Erickson


Welcome . . .

North Cascades Tai Chi, is a school of Traditional Sun and Yang Style  Taijiquan we serve the greater Skagit county area - Mount Vernon, Anacortes, La Conner, Burlington, and Sedro Woolley in Washington State.

Internal Chinese martial arts
(Tai Chi) For Health

Many people that have watched or even practiced Tai Chi do not realize that it is in fact a martial art developed centuries ago for fighting enemies and criminals in old China. In today’s society internal Chinese martial arts are not so much used for fighting as they are an exercise form that puts one in touch with their total awareness, physically, mentally and environmentally. People that watch martial arts shows/movies typically watch what may be referred to as "external” (wai) or hard style martial arts such as Japanese karate, kick boxing, Korean Tae Kwon Do or hard forms of Kung Fu. External styles put their emphasis on hard physical and mental training to achieve high levels of fighting skills for either competition (MMA) or self defense. We do not train people to fight but we do provide explanations and techniques that can be useful for self defense if one chooses to train that way. Please continue reading below for a greater explanation/understanding of what our internal Tai Chi system offers.

Full System Taijiquan

At North Cascades Tai Chi we are proud to teach not only forms for health but also teach the students what each movement means. As previously stated Tai Chi or Taijiquan was originally a martial art used for fighting or self defense. Every move of a form has a martial element to it. Students will learn what these applications are which leads to greater understanding of why they move the way they do. That is not to say we actually use them but we do learn how to use them. :)
There are 3 levels of Tai Chi:
1) Forms and understanding what the moves are for.
2) Partner drills such as Tushou (push hands) optional
3 Weapons such as Jian (straight sword), Dao (broad sword) optional
As indicated levels 2&3 are optional for serous students who want to achieve a deeper understanding of the entire system. 
Students who practice tuishou/push hands have a great deal of fun and it is not competitive or dangerous. This practice also greatly enhances the understanding of the solo form. For all of these reasons, tuishou/push hands is highly encouraged.

The internal Chinese styles (nei) such as Tai Chi place an emphasis on relaxation, proper body structure and physical/mental fluidity. Practicing Tai Chi with these principles will help one to integrate mind and body in all activities of life not just Tai Chi.
As a beginner, the moves can seem quite difficult at first. However, with practice and regular class attendance the graceful movements soon become natural and a sense of accomplishment is joyfully experienced by the practitioner. The Art can be challenging but the rewards are well worth the effort.
It should also be noted that there are all levels of practioners of tai chi from beginners to advanced students. Everyone learns at their own pace, there is NO pressure to learn or perform except for what the student chooses to put on him/her self.  

Slow movements

Traditional forms of tai chi are typically slow, flowing movements that are very graceful.
Because of this slow movement there may be a misunderstanding that Tai Chi is only for older adults. Tai Chi is a wonderful over all workout for all ages of adults. The level of challenge one chooses to pursue is up to the individual practitioner. There are no limits. A practitioner may choose to practice gently or attempt increasingly more difficult movements as their skills improve.

Health Benefits

Practicing tai chi movements strengthens the entire body and integrates the mind with the body which improves one’s posture, balance and connectivity to their holistic being. The performing of tai chi moves correctly can result in well documented health benefits such as:
Improved BALANCE, Arthritis relief, diabetes control and many others too numerous to list. 
As medical research on tai chi progresses more and more health benefits are being published. 
Tai Chi is fun way to improve one's health!