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Canadian Tai Chi Academy
Information, News, and Events

    Nipissing Workshop, November 4-5, 2023
    Posted December 31, 2023
The Canadian Tai Chi Academy's Nipissing District was honoured to welcome workshop leader Rob Munden the weekend of November 4th and 5th. Day one of the workshop was well attended by members of the Sabre, Continuing, and Beginner classes. Also in attendance were Rob's spouse, Maureen, and visitors from Sudbury and Timmins, adding to the warmth typical of our group. Attendees enjoyed an included pizza lunch, snacks and baking provided by our members. Generous donations for the Callandar Food Bank were received, along with a monetary contribution for The Callander Public Library.

Rob started the first day of our workshop with some foundational exercises, including some new to our group. Instruction continued in what Rob called "The Four Directions", which provided focal technique in four moves of the set: Brush Knees, Parting Wild Horse's Mane, Repulse Monkey, and Wave Hands Like Clouds. At request from our group, demonstration and explanation were provided in what it means to "sit" and how to develop balance.

In the afternoon, Rob demonstrated techniques for "Chop with Fist" and "Turn and Chop with Fist". Rob led sets in the morning and afternoon, with many from the Beginner class doing a great job completing a full set for the first time. During breaks, our guest instructor could be found fully engaged, providing one-on-one instruction in Sabre technique, providing pointers and advice to our beginners, or sharing instructional advice and anecdotes with our district instructors.

Sunday morning's focus was on sabre. We advanced through the entire set slowly, with Rob clarifying each move in regards to positioning (blade & body) and providing explanations on their intent. The correlation between different forms were also explained.

We were also lucky enough to practice the first few moves of Lok Hup and to see some demos of sword moves. Various approaches to instructing Beginner Tai Chi were reviewed and discussed. None of us wanted the morning to end!

Rob was a joy to observe in demonstration. With gratitude, we express our thanks to all who attended and would gladly welcome a return visit.

    Yellowknife Workshop, November 4-5, 2023
    Posted December 31, 2023
We were thrilled that Doug Overholt and Susan Carson volunteered to give up their weekend to fly to Yellowknife, CTCA's most northerly outpost, to share the knowledge they've gained throughout their many years of tai chi practice.

It had been a long time since Yellowknife had had an in-person workshop with out-of-town instructors. It was wonderful to practice and commune together. (During the breaks and potluck lunches, the hall was brimming with conversation and laughter.) The potlucks were incredible, featuring a variety of exotic salads and appetizers, fruits, soups, lentil and veggie dishes, fish, snacks and desserts.

We broke down and built up moves in the first 17 moves of the set. "That was lovely," said one practitioner after Susan had broken down and we practiced Step Up, Deflect, Parry, Punch.

Amongst other elements, the couple worked us through the toryu with emphasis on slowly turning the hips to square. We received continuing level instruction regarding transitions and flow, as was demonstrated in White Stork Spreads Wings and other moves. Our group benefited greatly from personalized correction to our form. We've been conducting an informal 'Total Recall' since to try to remember what we gained from the instruction.

Thank you to everyone who helped to make the workshop a success. Thanks to the organizers, the accounting, the billet, the tour guides, the cooks and bakers, the kitchen helpers and clean up, and to those who participated. There were many events happening that weekend but we managed to get 17 participants out at the height of the event.

And congratulations, Teresa, who will be part of the Beginner instructor team once we get a class going again, whatever format that will take in the future.

    Cochrane Workshop, October 21-22, 2023
    Posted December 31, 2023
The Cochrane workshop drew participants from the Alberta locations (Bragg Creek, Canmore, Innisfail, Red Deer) and one stalwart from Kamloops, BC. Besides experiencing the usual stupendous CTCA workshop, we also hosted the CTCA Annual General Meeting and a special 25th Anniversary Tribute to our founder and leader, Master Moy Lin-Shin (1931-1998).

In 2018, Doug Overholt delivered a memorable speech and PowerPoint at Master Moy's 20th Anniversary Tribute. For this 25th, however, Robin Fulford reprised that original presentation of Doug's, adding his own reflections to the mix. We were grateful for all the pictures and memories from the past as most of us have never met nor worked with Master Moy.

The AGM sailed along smoothly with a thoughtful speech by Sherri Nettleton, CTCA President, detailing our emergence from the pandemic Zoom activities to in-person classes and workshops. There were no Board elections this year, so the financial, workshop, and new locations reports wrapped up the events, allowing us to get back to 'changing our physiology' (ouch!).

Workshop leaders David deBelle, Paul Clarke, and Robin Fulford put us through our paces. We worked hard and had thoughtful discussions; everyone was pumped, and it was great to see the obvious improvement over the two days. We have lots to work on till out next workshop!

A special thanks to Sharon for (again) doing a fabulous job of feeding the lot of us. (Forget the workshop, let's just eat!) And thanks to Brent for organizing the workshop and keeping us all in line.

    Kelowna Workshop, October 7-9, 2023
    Posted December 31, 2023
CTCA Kelowna welcomed workshop leader Mehrab Khan, assisted by My Huynh, over the October Long Weekend for a three day workshop. Attendees from Vancouver, Vancouver Island, Kamloops, Innisfail (Alberta), Winnipeg (Manitoba), and all parts of the Okanagan, joined us for a rewarding and enjoyable three days. The weather was postcard perfect!

"Open Your Heart; Stretch More; Eyebrows Up; Both Arms Straight; Elbows to Earth-Knees to Heaven; String Up; Smile": Mehrab's thoughtful explanations of what was important in our tai chi along with My's excellent demonstrations made it all that was hoped for, perhaps even more. Mehrab told us that Mr. Moy's tai chi isn't just for our health; it is a way to live our lives. We did more than simply work on our tai chi; we worked on ourselves and our community as a whole. By the end of the weekend we were physically tired (in a good way) and mentally satiated.

As any club knows; workshops don't just happen. It takes a huge amount of effort to make it work. The Kelowna committee members ran it like a well-oiled machine. Thanks to everyone involved and many thanks again to Mehrab, My, and all who joined us. Looking forward to next time.

    Winnipeg Workshop, September 27 - October 1, 2023
    Posted December 31, 2023
56 people attended the Winnipeg week long event that utilized the existing class schedule by extending classes. Participants were invited to partake in over 21.5 hours of this tai chi experience over 4 different practice venues. There was much gratitude, written and verbal, for the support from an area a little off the beaten path.

Workshop leaders, Tom Daly and Val Way-Nee, used their experiences with Master Moy and shared his 'simplicity' in doing tai chi. Many beginners, having only just completed move #17, ate it up, and continuing members harvested many 'tai chi jewels'. Snacks, meals and a camaraderie not seen for years abounded in and out of the 4 different practice venues. The 7 sessions were sneakily built upon each other and made it so anyone missing a session would not miss out!

The true value of our practice are the health benefits. Two of the many emails received after requests for feedback must be highlighted:
  • Most striking was a member who brought their chemo pump so as not to miss out: " Loved the Single Whip with a tight hook and the release and the lymph flow it triggers."

  • An octogenarian with an extensively damaged rotator cuff after a fall off their horse wrote: "They showed me how to position my right arm (with rotator cuff tears) in the Whip without causing me discomfort."
Here's a collection of feedback from the beginners and continuing participants:
  • "Comfortable, friendly atmosphere for learning - Light-bulb moments - All classes were great - I learned something new every class - I moved more strongly and carefully and happily with an arthritic joint because of correct and thoughtful instruction - I was happy that the chair tai chi was included in Thursday's class - As a predominantly visual and kinesthetic learner, I loved seeing Val's form and following her - Instructions were well explained and I felt that they were directed at me -Tom and Val worked very hard and well together - Profound ocean of tradition and teachings that got me even more inspired to keep playing tai chi and continue learning - Thanks for making this happen"
It was a blessing to witness the benefits of sharing again. After 30 years of tai chi, Master Moy's plan never loses its shine. Thanks to him for the road map. Truly, we are a tai chi family that Master Moy might flash a smile at.

     Cliff Yerex

    Vancouver Workshop, September 23-24, 2023
    Posted December 31, 2023
Over 50 people met on a rainy Saturday morning to practice tai chi at Vancouver's garden gem, Van Dusen Gardens. The day began with an extensive walk through the foundation exercises, led by Dr. David Carson. We then followed with a "slow" tai chi set, bringing all together.

After a short break of tea and snacks, the workshop got down to work. Susan Carson led the class through the mechanics of the "sit/step" lesson, a review of previous ZOOM sessions held in the Western Region over the past few years. Susan focused on timing and balance, going slowly enough to enable "sitting" in every move.

Lots of questions and comments flowed, making for a most interesting review of this topic of "sitting". David provided further insight into the health benefits from balancing on one leg, increasingly important for those of us in our elder years!

A simple lunch of sandwiches and veggie/fruit platters followed, with plenty of time for mingling and renewing relationships. A special thanks to Helen, Shirley, and Susan for making all this happen.

After lunch it was back to work. Doug Overholt introduced and led a session on the 5 Animal Forms, speaking about the theory, but more importantly, introducing a technique derived from the movement of the Snake, - the first of the 5 Animals. Everyone practiced Parting Wild Horse's Mane, Brush Knee and Stork Cools Wings with this technique in mind. Many commented of feeling more turning and more coordination - equal and opposite forces. The afternoon ended with another tai chi set, to allow the day's lessons to "sink in".

Sunday began with a half hour quiet sitting and then back to work with a review of "sit/step"". Later in the day Doug introduced the Dragon, illustrating how we can bring this into our practice with larger movements and more attention to rising and falling.

With a sunny Sunday, the entire group took a lunchtime stroll through Van Dusen Gardens. We even made it through the garden without losing any members in the network of winding trails!

Another accomplishment on the weekend was Location Representatives meeting as a group to establish contacts and committing to working more together to enhance our learning in the Region.

Finally, the day ended with a tai chi set. It was great to see the difference in participant's tai chi from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon. All in all, a satisfying conclusion to our first "live" session since the restriction of COVID days.

    Perth Workshop, August 19-20, 2023
    Posted November 12, 2023
Perth hosted a workshop on August 19 and 20, 2023, lead by Doug Nettleton. There were 73 people at the general workshop on Saturday and 39 people at the instructor workshop on Sunday. People came from as far as Owen Sound and Ste-Catherine, Quebec. Many regions were represented including Kingston, Brockville, Ottawa, Arnprior, Belleville and Lansdowne as well as many participants from the local area. Experience in the group ranged from less than a year up to several decades. The majority were academy members but there were also a large number of non-members.

For the general workshop, Doug started with having the group do the first 17 moves several times with an emphasis on opening and stretching. Doug talked about how the moves need to be able to work as a martial art. They need to be strong. He demonstrated this with toryus, Step-up to Form Seven Stars and Fair Lady Works at Shuttles. Later Doug reviewed Carry Tiger to Mountain, Fist Under Elbow, Wave Hands like Clouds and Needle at Sea Bottom.

Doug said, "Tai chi is a whole body exercise. Practice as if that's true." He talked about this in the context of Single Whip. The stretch should extend past the elbow through the shoulder to the spine. Doug also shared many stories about Mr. Moy. Day one concluded with a lok hup practice.

The second day was for instructors, assistants and people wanting to instruct. Doug taught the moves in the context of how to instruct tai chi. He talked about the importance of keeping things simple using Mr. Moy's 3, 3, 3 method. Most of the information should be given visually with minimal verbal instruction. The form should be demonstrated with clean simple lines and you should teach from what you can do rather than what you think you know. Doug emphasized the importance of teaching from the heart. There was also time for sharing and discussion from other experienced instructors.

The afternoon included instruction in testing moves using resistance. This involved paired practice providing resistance for the first few moves of the set and one of the foundations. Additionally, Doug reviewed the Strike Tigers move and Turn and Sweep the Lotus. Post workshop, there has been a lot of positive feedback. People were grateful for all that Doug shared.

     Catherine Larkin

    Tai Chi Week (Newmarket) - July 22-28, 2023
    Posted November 12, 2023
This inaugural 'post-pandemic' tai chi week workshop was a grand experience for all the participants. We taught push hands, donyus, toryus, listening inside, eliminating double-weightedness, connecting tail to sit, keeping 13 joints open, eliminating distractions, first 17 moves retaught, story time, and non-stop sets.

We enjoyed a Welcome Dinner, 4 Chinese Banquets, 1 Robot Buffet, 1 Guangdong Feast, 1 Birthday Party Dinner, and 1 Dim Sum Experience.

Participants enjoyed the cultural exchange, experiencing different foods, restaurants, learning Cantonese, and embracing rituals and mannerisms. Each meal made it fun overall after the 6+ hours of non-stop practice.

The Group consisted of 38 participants:
  • 4 from Alberta (Canmore & Innisfail)
  • 5 from British Columbia (Duncan, Kelowna & Vancouver)
  • 1 from Nova Scotia (Cumberland)
  • 25 from Ontario (Goderich, Lansdown, Newmarket, Orangeville, Ottawa, Peterborough,
    Richmond Hill, Sharbot Lake, Tillsonburg, Mississauga)
  • 3 from Outside of Canada (United Kingdom)
Having My Huynh & David deBelle instruct the group worked very well, and having Doug Nettleton correct and guide those who struggled was amazing. A great team effort on everyone's part!

     Mehrab Khan

    Kelowna Workshop, July 15-16, 2023
    Posted November 12, 2023
In-person workshops being on hiatus for the last few years meant there was quite a bit of anticipation for Kelowna's first of two workshops this year. Happy to say that it went off without a hitch though there was "stitch" so to speak. Our workshop was led by Dr. David Carson (from Robert's Creek on BC's Sunshine Coast) who had undergone knee surgery just weeks earlier, hence the stitch (or two).

David was unhindered though, and his message so clear and concise that we had no trouble carrying out his instructions. Our workshop spanned two days - an afternoon and a morning in the midst of a blazing Okanagan July weekend. Luckily the two halls we used had air conditioning! Day 1 was standing jongs, toryus and donyus, as we explored a new pathway to centering. Day 2 saw us dive into "Manes" and David patiently worked with us to improve balance, strength, and form.

Practice, not quite as intense as the heat, was enjoyed by everyone, from very new beginners to continuing students. Joining our Kelowna core group of 40 were members from Vancouver Island, Kamloops B.C and Yellowknife NWT. Comments from participants were glowing - many members commenting on David's relaxed and humorous approach; everyone left with tools to use for a better understanding of their tai chi.

Huge thanks to David Carson for taking the time to be with us. We look forward to the next time. And now we get ready for our second workshop this fall with Mehrab Khan on Oct. 6, 7 and 8th! br>
     Mark Theobald

    Timmins Workshop, July 14-17, 2023
    Posted November 12, 2023
Being grounded, opening the chest and squaring were main themes that were brought to us by Robin Fulford, the CTCA Workshop Coordinator, during a 3-1/2 day weekend event. He was accompanied by his partner in crime, Wendy White, or 'The Boss', who diligently took notes all weekend!

The Friday night session was followed by a dinner at Casey's where we got to share stories, some of Mr. Moy, and to know each other better. The Saturday, which offered instruction on a two-level basis (AM for Beginners & PM for Continuing) provided new concepts and health benefits to everyone, no matter what their level was! Sunday was dedicated to working with the instructor team; an added bonus was the one-on-one - individual adjustments for the instructor team by Robin! There was just so much material to play with and even a new outlook on Lok Hup in Monday's class, which was not originally planned.

Thank you to all our participants attending in great numbers who made this workshop a HUGE success, and to Subway for preparing the wonderful lunch on Saturday provided by the CTCA-Timmins Branch! Also, thanks to Pauline and Dan Racicot for their presentation of a special Timmins' keepsake to Robin and Wendy. And congratulations to Gloria for winning the door prize basket!

Finally, a profound THANK YOU to this 'AWESOME' couple, Robin and Wendy, for having this magnificent way of making us feel so at ease and to share and experience new 'AHA' moments in our Tai Chi journey, during our first in-person workshop by the Canadian Tai Chi Academy.

     Aline Gravel

    Buckhorn Workshop, June 10, 2023
    Posted November 9, 2023
This event was held to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Mr. Moy's passing on June 6, 1998.

Tom Daly and Valerie Way-Nee led the group with the simple yet complex idea of stretching the arms out sooner to open the ribs generate the feeling of 'up/down same time'. This theme continued throughout the afternoon. We focussed on toryus initially and then moved the toryu movement into The Big Four (Brush Knee, Repulse Monkey, Parting Wild Horse's Mane, and Wave Hands Like Clouds). We were grateful for the presence and benefit of Doug Nettleton with his experience and 'eyes' to oversee the practice.

The large gym held students of various levels; some who had less than 1-2 months of tai chi stood beside others with 1 year, 4 years, 9 years, and all the way up to 30+ years. It was wonderful to see everyone working together.

At break we had an informational discussion about Mr. Moy and his passing. Tom, Valerie and Doug presented stories and facts about Mr. Moy and his journey from China to his founding and growing of the Taoist Tai Chi Society. The attendees were very curious about this man who did so much for us and affected so many people along the way.

     Valerie Way-Nee

    Saanich Workshop - May 6, 2023
    Posted November 9, 2023
The Saanich Peninsula CTCA Branch hosted our annual technical Lok Hup workshop with Doug Overholt on 06 May 2023. It was held in the beautiful Community Learning Centre at North Saanich Middle School.

There were 34 in attendance. Saanich Peninsula Branch welcomed people from the United Kingdom, Ontario, Sechelt, Duncan, Nanaimo, and Vancouver. Ferry problems prevented the main group from Salt Spring from attending...comes with living on the islands. Hopefully, we will catch up with them in the coming months.

The technical Lok Hup Workshop with Doug Overholt was excellent. Susan Carson did the warm-ups and Dave Carson contributed several sessions on the physiology and how to internalize tai chi.

The first set was full of giggles as two versions of the set collided. Doug then proceed with move 1 and worked through the moves of the entire set. A truly stunning feat! Tons of details and questions answered. Amazing! The final set of the day had the entire group moving together.

The host branch provided sandwiches, homemade goodies, and snacks. Old friendships were renewed and new friends made, as were promises to share information and details. LOTS of stuff to work on in the coming months.

Betcha everyone had a good night sleep Saturday night!

     Wendy Riggs

    Nipissing Workshop - May 6-7, 2023
    Posted November 9, 2023
Our workshop leader Rob Munden was great. He connected well with everyone and shared his knowledge as only an experienced instructor can. His help with tai chi, sabre, and lok hup was so needed. And we enjoyed Rob's sword set demonstration as most of us had never seen this performed.

We set the workshop up in 3 components: Saturday morning was the general tai chi workshop for all members; Saturday afternoon for instructor development; and Sunday morning for the sabre workshop.

As a group, we reviewed the foundation exercises, led by Rhéaume (me), with Rob adding his perspective, including with donyus and toryus. Rob then reviewed the 5 basic principles, again explaining how they are used to provide a stable structure, protect the knees and low back, and enable the body to relax into the movement.

As a group, we practised the first 17 moves repeatedly, Rob emphasizing how the foundation exercises and basic principles are incorporated into the movements. As the morning progressed, we reviewed Brush Knees, Repulse Monkey, Part Wild Horse's Mane and Wave Hands Like Clouds, again refining, polishing, and providing different perspectives.

A key point was understanding the fundamental concept of 'not falling into the movement'; so sit, step, then in one continuous motion 'go'. Also emphasized was 'not cheating yourself out of the stretch': finish the move before 'turning' into the next.

Sunday morning was designed as a sabre workshop. All participants knew the basic set so we practised refinements and polish.

The group very much appreciated the teachings that Rob gave us; many hadn't been to a workshop in years or had never been to one. Thanks so much!

     Rhéaume Bellehumeur

    Stayner Workshop - April 28, 2023
    Posted November 9, 2023
On April 28, 2023 Stayner hosted a day workshop for South Georgian Bay locations.

To celebrate the coming of spring and the waning of COVID restrictions, Stayner Location (which joined the CTCA in November 2021) proposed hosting an in-person, all day tai chi workshop for (mostly new) locations within the South Georgian Bay catchment area. And what a great day it was!

45 participants made their way to the Stayner Arena and Community Centre from Thornbury, Sauble Beach, Kincardine, Orangeville, Newmarket, Creemore, Saugene, and Newmarket, along with several guests from Owen Sound. Workshop leader Doug Nettleton encouraged those interested to come early to practice Lok Hup, Sabre and Sword, which was very much appreciated by those involved.

After the lockdown and Zoom years, it was terrific to be in-person and receive personal corrections and direction from Doug, Mehrab Khan and My Huynh, who also led sets and circulated among us while we played with rows of Parting Wild Horse's Mane, Brush Knees, Repulse Monkey and Wave Hands Like Clouds. A good number of beginners had never done a set with so many people. They marveled at the energy and how much easier it was to follow.

The day left us energized and grateful and extremely happy to have joined the CTCA.

     Diana Wiszniewska

    The Tai Chi Training Process of Master Moy
    Posted June 10, 2023
For students introduced to tai chi one of the most common questions is "What do we do after we learn the 108 movements of the Set?1"
The beginner level concentrates mainly on learning the movements. Instructions to students are generally directed to the class, with any individual corrections centred around conforming to the external form and the Five Principles2.
After learning the Set the idea of stretching and turning is introduced. This is monitored by the Instructor to ensure stretching and turning are within the limits of the Five Principles. In this way the student begins to stretch muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This process, known as a tendon changing exercise, continues for several years.
When the muscles, tendons and ligaments become more flexible, then the student begins the process called Opening Up the Bones. The student begins to stretch within the joints themselves, building a strong and malleable body structure. The continuous stretching and turning process becomes deeper and more subtle, for example, stretching and turning within the elbow or knee joints themselves.
The next level turns attention to internal work. Students begin to sense movement beyond the external muscle wall. Stretching and contracting sensations become part of moving from one move to another and force can be applied in a more synchronized fashion. Loosening, flexibility and strength are part of making the body more integrated.
Finally, one connects the internal work with breathing. This is the beginning of internal kung fu or chi kung, - energy, vitality and spirit are joined together.


1 From a conversation with Moy Lin Shin. See also The Work Begins with the Externals for further details.
2 The Five Principles are 45°step, straight line from the back of the heel to the head, squaring the hips to the front leg, knee-ankle perpendicular to the floor (not extending past the toe), and equal and opposite force with the arms.