Drop by Sun Yat-Sen Square in Montreal's Chinatown or the Old Port on any given morning and you might just spot locals practicing tai chi, a discipline adopted by millions in China and around the world.
And it's more mainstream than ever in North America, touted as a form of low impact exercise and as a stress reduction technique suitable for nearly everyone of every fitness level, including athletes, young children, seniors and people unable to participate in moderate to intense aerobic activity.
What is Tai Chi?
Tai chi or tai chi chuan is rooted in Taoist philosophy. ''Tai chi'' translates into "supreme ultimate force," ''supreme ultimate boxing," or even "grand ultimate fist" and is in many ways a form of meditation in motion, commonly described by Westerners as a mix of yoga and meditation.
Inspired and derived from ancient martial arts like kung fu, tai chi was originally devised as a combative form of defense. Several tai chi styles are taught worldwide, with Chen style being the oldest and Yang style the most popular.
Tame the Force
Of central importance in tai chi, as well as in Chinese medicine, acupuncture, feng shui, and Qigong is the concept of force, more specifically chi or "life force."
An invisible ethereal energy believed to animate the body as well as pretty much everything in the outside world, tai chi aims to direct and align one's chi to reduce stress and improve balance, stamina, flexibility, circulation, energy levels as well as muscle strength, tone and definition.
Research has even suggested the practice of tai chi plays a role in minimizing the effects of:
- attention deficit disorder
- high blood pressure
- heart disease
- Parkinson disease
- brain injury
Tai Chi in Montreal
Mostly Yang and Wu styles are featured in the Montreal tai chi classes listed below, with the exception being the dynamic Chen style taught at Wudang Internal.
Not sure if tai chi is for you? Sign up for a semester of extremely affordable classes at Concordia University and then consider moving onto one of Montreal's Tai Chi schools listed below.
- Concordia University Tai Chi
Style(s): Wu style
Classes available in: Downtown Montreal
INFO: (514) 848-2424, ext. 3860
- Lian Yee Health Club
Style(s): Yang style, Qigong, push hands, Tai Chi sword, Tai Chi saber, Tai Chi stick
Classes available in: Plateau Mont-Royal
INFO: (514) 284-5445
- Montreal Tai Chi Club
Style(s): Yang style, push hands, Qigong, Tai Chi sword, Tai Chi saber
Classes available in: Chinatown, Rosemont, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Brossard, St. Hubert
INFO: (514) 726-8198
- Now and Zen Tai Chi School of Montreal
Style(s): Yang style, Wu style, push hands
Classes available in: Côte St. Luc
INFO: (514) 482-3553
- Tai Chi Center
Style(s): Yang style
Classes available in: Roxboro
INFO: (514) 684-9584
- Taoist Tai Chi Society of Canada
Style(s):unspecified tai chi style, Tai Chi sword, Tai Chi saber, Qigong
INFO: (514) 272-5271
- Rising Tao Integrated Health
Style(s): unspecified Tai Chi style, Qigong
Classes available in: Westmount/downtown Montreal
INFO: (514) 369-7860
- Wudang Internal
Style(s): Chen style, Qigong
INFO: (514) 878-9874