Talks, demonstrations and tai chi exhibitions from members of all levels will give the public a chance to experience tai chi not only as a martial art, but also as a healing form of exercise and a philosophy.
Tai chi is considered an internal Chinese martial art form. It focuses on strengthening the immune system, building strength, finding balance and reducing stress.
Unlike other exercises that switch procedures in the middle of a workout regime, tai chi combines strength, stretching, and meditation into one form to stimulate the mind, body and soul simultaneously.
Taoism, an ancient Chinese philosophy, focuses on compassion, moderation and humility. It teaches selflessness and how to become one with the world.
Putting this art form and philosophy together creates a formula that is a service to others. It is not focused around personal gain, according to Jasma Jurjovec, an instructor of the International Taoist Tai Chi Society in Palo Alto.
"People don't methodically work on improving one's physical condition, and that is very important in gaining -- and maintaining -- health," Jurjovec said.
Jurjovec started doing tai chi because she had carpal tunnel syndrome. The condition became so painful that signing checks had become difficult. Since practicing tai chi regularly, she hasn't had a single recurrence, she said.
"I have industrial strength. ... It helps with balance, strength and flexibility," she added.
Jurjovec recover her physical health, but tai chi also helped relieve the pressures of daily life: "It helps stress. It also really helps with patience. You have to be really patient with tai chi," she said.
Zelma Dorfman, a member of the society for five years, said tai chi greatly improved her flexibility and balance. "I very much enjoy the whole process. The community of people is very close and warm, and the instructors are very caring."
During the Sept. 22 festivities at Avenidas, members of the local International Taoist Tai Chi Society will offer a glimpse of how tai chi offers something for all ages and backgrounds. A talk will focus on what the society has accomplished within the last 10 years, followed by demonstrations concentrating on the internal art forms of tai chi practiced in California. This includes tai chi and lok hups, a more complicated form of the original art that involves twisting and stretching. There will also be demonstrations of foundation exercises and tai chi exhibitions from members of all levels.
The International Taoist Tai Chi Society was started in Toronto, Canada in 1970 by Master Moy Lin-Shin, after 30 years of practicing at different monasteries in Hong Kong and China. As a youth, Moy was plagued with poor health. Through practicing tai chi, Taoism, and other internal art forms, he regained his health and pledged to help those who were interested in learning these arts.
Moy worked on a voluntary basis, which inspired his students to start their own branches of the International Taoist Tai Chi Society when they moved away to different parts of the world.
In 1997, one of Moy's pupils, Richard Partridge, moved from Vancouver to San Francisco to help people with HIV. In 1998, classes started in Palo Alto, usually in Mitchell Park, Unity Palo Alto Community Church and St. Mark's Episcopal Church.
The anniversary demonstrations and talk on Sept. 22 are free and open to all. In the evening, the celebration will continue with a banquet held at the Hung Fu Restaurant in Cupertino. The dinner costs $30; reservations are required.
What: The Peninsula branch of the International Taoist Tai Chi Society's 10 Year Anniversary Celebration
Where: Avenidas, 450 Bryant Street, Palo Alto; Hung Fu Restaurant, 20588 Stevens Creek Boulevard, Cupertino
When: September 22; 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. (talk and demonstrations); 6:30 p.m. (banquet)
Cost: Free (talk and demonstrations); $30 (banquet)
Info: Go to http://california.usa.taoist.org or call 650-532-0507 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org