Carol Emerson, holder of a black belt and certified member of the Dao Li Jiao school of Taoism, will be teaching t'ai chi basics at Central Arizona College's SaddleBrooke Center this fall.
Classes will be held within the SaddleBrooke community on Mondays and Wednesdays, Sept. 26 through Oct. 24, from 3 to 4 p.m. Cost of attending the class is $49.
Those wishing to register for this course must be a SaddleBrooke resident. Students should also wear loose fitting clothes.
Emerson, a native of Norman, Okla., learned t'ai chi from Michael Alan Brown, renowned martial artist and president of the Ching Yi Kung Fu Association in San Diego, Calif. Since then she has practiced and studied t'ai chi for more than 30 years and has taught it for six.
Emerson's initial training started innocently enough by attending Brown's studio three days a week. Soon, however, she found herself enamored with the martial art.
"Before long I was going everyday for three or four hours at a time," Emerson said. "It became my whole life."
It is this passion for t'ai chi that Emerson plans to bring to the classroom. In addition, she hopes that the residents of SaddleBrooke looking for something new will take advantage of this class offering.
"Try it for fun; you have nothing to lose and everything to gain," she said.
Emerson calls t'ai chi a moving meditation with mental as well as physical benefits. Students typically experience a general sense of well-being.
"Mostly what I hear (from students) is, ‘Gosh, I feel so much better after being in this class.'"
Emerson also has noticed that the human memory is enhanced by t'ai chi as students are given a series a movements to memorize.
"To memorize something that is foreign to you from one week to the next is a challenge for the brain."
Emerson believes that t'ai chi improves balance, coordination, flexibility, and, as she states it, the flow of Prana, or life essence, through the body.
"In doing so, it clears out the energy blockages, allowing for a more harmonious feeling in the body and the psyche."
Because of the structure of the class, Emerson won't be able to establish a hierarchy of "older" and "younger" siblings, but she will create a sense of belonging to a lineage for the students by incorporating the ways of behaving in a t'ai chi studio.
For example, bowing is done at the start of each class by students and teachers, not necessarily out of respect for the teacher by the student but out of respect for the lineage of t'ai chi teachers who have come before them.
Emerson has a bevy of knowledge and experience she hopes to impart on her students.
Her instruction under Brown included not only t'ai chi, but the related "sister arts" of hsing yi ch'uan and pa kua tsang. Together, these three styles comprise what are known as the internal kung fu systems.
In addition to the physical forms of the martial arts, Emerson learned a great deal about the system of traditional Chinese medicine and cosmology upon which t'ai chi and the other sister arts are based. The instruction included various ancient ch'i kung exercises from the Taoist and Buddhist Shaolin Temple traditions.
Ch'i kung practice uses the mind and breath to increase the physical life-force in the body and is a critical component of internal martial arts. This knowledge allows her to bring great depth to her teaching beyond the physical movements.
She is honored to be a certified Dao Li Yuan (Member) of the Dao Li Jiao School of Taoism which was created by Dr. Her Yue Wong, Taoist master and founder-director of the Ching Yi Kung Fu Association.
The goal of the Dao Li Jiao is to improve both the physical and the spiritual quality of human life. Members of the Dao Li Jiao pursue a combined physical, mental and spiritual regimen that includes practice of the traditional Chinese internal martial arts and the meditative and breathing exercises derived from the art of ch'i kung.
For more information or to register for this class, contact Muriel Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 494-6616.