Blog : GateWay Celebrates Self Defense and Well-Being on World Taiji Day

By Sarah Mahoney | Apr 13, 2015 | in

By Mike Bizier

PORTSMOUTH- The martial art of taiji (pronounced tai-chee) and qigong (pronounced chee-kung) have been practiced for centuries. In Chinese, the word qigong literally translates to “energy work,” a concept that is essential in Taiji. Unlike the hard forms of martial arts, like karate, taiji focuses on using the body’s energy, or qi, to support physical activity. Since 1999, Taiji and Qigong have been celebrated on a global scale as World Taiji Day.

In Portsmouth, GateWay Taiji, Qigong and Yoga will host its own World Taiji Day event on Saturday, April 25 from 8:00 a.m – 4:00 p.m. featuring a range of special classes for attendees as well as student demonstrations.

“The basic concept of World Taiji Day is to try and get as many people involved with this as possible,” says Bill Buckley, GateWay's owner. “It’s kind of like a meditative sit-in. Schools across the country and the world get together and practice on this particular day.”

World Taiji Day will kick off with a YogaQi class at 8 a.m. This intermediate class transitions from yoga to qigong, emphasizing muscle stretching and relaxing to circulate the body’s energy. Guest instructor, Mary Sturtevant will teach a workshop on the beautiful Dancing Bamboo Fan Form at 10 a.m. At 2 p.m., attendees are welcome to a free 45 minute introductory Qigong class. A student-led demonstration of Taiji for Balance follows at 2:45. Finally, an Advanced Taiji demonstration will close the day's events at 3:15 p.m.

GateWay's World Taiji Day classes will be free, with the exception of the Taiji Dancing Bamboo Fan Form seminar, which is open to attendees for $65.

Aside from its usefulness as a self-defense tool, taiji is also used extensively for health purposes. Nearly one in three people over the age of 65 fall each year, which can drive up healthcare costs and mortality rates. To help combat this problem, the New Hampshire Falls Risk Reduction Task Force brought in balance researcher Dr. Fuzhong Li from The Oregon Research Institute, specializing in health-related issues among the elderly population. Li has a nationally-renowned balance program called Taiji: Moving for Better Balance that uses taiji as its basis, and has been shown to reduce falls in elderly participants by over 50 percent.

Buckley was certified to teach Li's Taiji: Moving for Better Balance course, and has subsequently developed his own curriculum for continuing balance students.

“Our balance classes are designed for people to improve their health, develop valuable balance skills, and get a little exercise,” Buckley says.
In Taiji: Moving for Better Balance, beginning students learn simple exercises derived from taiji movements that emphasize weight shifting, postural alignment and proper breathing. Continuing Balance students go on to learn the traditional Chinese Yang Style Taiji long form.

In addition to providing quality martial arts classes, GateWay is well known for its green practices. In 2013, GateWay installed solar panels to its roof that handle 98 percent of its energy needs. All lights at GateWay are LED, the studio’s walls are filled with state of the art foam insulation and the building’s original concrete roof has been replaced by an asphalt roof with insulated light weight foam.

GateWay’s sustainability efforts have led to a partnership with The Green Alliance, a local organization that works to promote and unite green-minded businesses and consumers throughout the seacoast region.

For Buckley, who looks forward to sharing these martial arts with a wide group of people, World Taiji Day is a day to celebrate whole-body wellness and meet new people.

“It’s going to be a great time,” he says.

For more information on GateWay Yoga, Taiji and Qigong, click here.