Essence Tai Chi
For some time I have had an interest in Tai Chi, but until recently, I
had not sought out a teacher. As
luck would have it, I met Owen Liao. He
agreed to take me on as a student, and I couldn’t be happier with the results.
Owen’s program consists of 8 sessions, during which he breaks down,
demonstrates, and teaches his students his Yang Style Essence Tai Chi. His
teaching style, informal yet demanding, is very personal, and he takes a strong
personal interest in the progress of each of his students.
In my case, I was fortunate to have his undivided attention during
In teaching Tai Chi, Owen breaks down the routine into several distinct,
separate, numbered movements. Rather
than trying to impart the full routine from the beginning, he focuses on one
movement at a time, demonstrating the movement, then working with the student
and helping him/her to make the proper physical and mental adjustments.
The student counts each movement as he practices, and each movement is
then repeated several times. This
allows the movement to be “burned into” the memory of the student relatively
quickly. Owen teaches 2 to 3
movements in a session, sequentially—that is, the movements are taught in the
order in which they are performed in the Essence Tai Chi.
For example, the first movement is demonstrated by Owen.
The student then repeats the movement over and over, until the
fundamentals of the movement are understood by the student.
Owen takes the specific needs and limitations of the student in mind, and
makes adjustments and suggestions as the student goes along.
In my case, for example, my excess weight makes it difficult for me to
get as low as Owen. He said not to worry about it, but to focus on properly
executing the footwork and other aspects of the movement—that I would
naturally get lower as I continued to lose weight.
Owen then moves on to the next movement, and the process of instruction
and adjustment is repeated. Between
classes, the student is to practice as often as possible so that the routine can
be memorized without taking up important instruction/class time.
At the beginning of the next class, I would execute the routine from the
beginning, and he would critique me, making corrections and adjustments.
In a very short time, less than a month in my case, I was able to learn,
memorize, and independently practice the entire 4-minute routine.
I am now in the very enjoyable process of refining my practice.
In conjunction with his effective personal instruction, Owen has produced
a Tai Chi DVD that is invaluable. It
is a tremendous resource for the beginning student.
On the DVD, each movement is isolated and demonstrated, so that the
student can review, on his own, any particular movement, in order to observe and
absorb its many subtleties. In
addition, the entire routine is executed twice on the DVD.
I can’t emphasize enough how helpful it has been to have a reference
such as this at my fingertips. If I
forget the physical order of a movement, or have a question about how it should
be performed, I simply pop the DVD into my DVD player, and Owen is there to show
me the answer!
With the DVD, I am able to progress at my own speed, have my questions
answered visually, and work on specific problems I may encounter.
I am very excited that Owen is now writing a companion book to go along
with his DVD and personal instruction. I
have been privileged to review a preliminary draft, and its detailed,
step-by-step (literally!) guide through the Yang Style Essence Tai Chi is
logically presented, and will be an inexpensive, must-have reference guide for
the beginning (or experienced) Tai Chi student.
Many of Owen’s comments and suggestions didn’t fully resonate with me
until my practice progressed; as my practice has developed, I am now more able
to appreciate many of the subtleties he was trying to convey-- from the
importance of turning my ankle in during certain positions, to understanding
proper balancing techniques during a movement, to “feeling the power” in
another portion of the routine.
I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to take Tai Chi
instruction from Owen Liao, and I highly recommend him to anyone interested in
either learning beginning Tai Chi, or further advancing one’s current
practice. It is an experience I will value the rest of my life—and so
Leas , December 2005
, December 2005
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