What we're about
We're Utah's largest Tai Chi community - a membership-free local community that practices Tai Chi every Sunday morning, with Kung Fu classes every Monday night, community student-practices Friday night and Kung Fu movie nights first Monday of every month.
I've been doing martial arts for over 20 years. I'm a former Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructor (MCMAP), and I was trained and certified in the Wudang mountains of China as a Tai Chi Instructor from the China Wudang Kungfu Academy - Shifu Chen Shixing. I'm Master Lu's Disciple and a Master in Northern Shaolin Kungfu.
I noticed Utah doesn't have a big following of tai chi practitioners, and I want to change that. I want to see more local Utahns practice this amazing art that I grew up with to learn and teach. It was refreshing to see so many groups in Beijing practice as a community, and I want that same environment here in Utah.
FAQ from students
Q: I've never done Tai Chi before... is it beginner friendly?
A: Yes! It's a slow-paced moving routine, combining meditation with traditional martial arts. Think of it like a slow dance routine. It's follow-the-leader with the routine. Every class has 1-3 new people rotating each class, with enough veterans for you to watch and imitate. No pressure at all, and you're more than welcome to spectate or step to the side if it gets too confusing. Tai Chi classes are about 1 hour; Kung Fu 2 hours.
Q: What exactly is Tai Chi Chuan/Taijiquan? Why the different spelling?
A: Tai Chi Chuan is an old traditional Chinese exercise that combines meditation, daoist philosophy, breath/energy control and self-defense movements in a slow, controlled choreographed routine. It's "meditation in motion", or formally known as Path of the Body, as it requires you to focus on your bodily movements to stay in the moment, allowing you to relax while lightly exercising. Tai Chi Chuan and Taijiquan are one and the same, and translate to the same thing - "Supreme Ultimate Fist"; Taijiquan is the most accurate translation to how it's pronounced, but most Americans already know it as Tai Chi Chuan as that was how it was originally translated.
Q: Isn't Tai Chi just for older people?
A: Absolutely not! However, it's very popular among older people as it's a very low impact exercise than can increase flexibility, balance, energy and heart condition - all of which older people look for but can't do with other high-impact exercises. One of my goals as a young instructor is to dispel this stereotype; in China, we'd have people as young as 12-yr old kids doing Tai Chi. I was 15-years-old when I first started learning Tai Chi. I'm a very active person that trains at least 3-hours a day, and even I can attest to its benefits. Attend any of my classes and you'll also see that this exercises is for all ages - from children to senior citizens.
Q: What do I wear?
A: Loose clothing, specifically pants since leg-movement is paramount; stretch-tights and yoga/running tights work great as well. Flat shoes preferred, like Tom-Toms or basic sneakers (running shoes have too much padding on it, making it harder to balance).
Q: Where are the classes held?
A: All Tai Chi classes are held in Sugarhouse Park, Fabian Lakeside Pavilion, when it's warm; for Friday night open gym, it's NW corner of Liberty Park. For Kung Fu, it's at the Urban Indian Center. When it rains, please assume outdoor classes are cancelled. Please check the calendar for more information on indoor locations for the winter. The goal is to one day have our own studio to call home!
Q: Do the Tai Chi classes cost anything?
A: Nope! We're a non-committal group, and every Sunday session is free (donations always welcome) - I just want a larger following of Tai Chi. I deeply care about this art, and I feel keeping it free indefinitely allows people to try it out without any pressure from me. Kung Fu classes are $10. All Tai Chi donations go towards buying better training equipment and saving up for our future studio.
Q: Do you offer personal training sessions?
A: At this time, I won't be able to accommodate individual private sessions as I'm working on getting us a studio and finishing our app for iPhone. In the future I'll announce any openings for individual private sessions.
Q: Is your style of Tai Chi Chuan/Taijiquan legitimate?
A: Trust me - I'm not a fan of fake instructors either. For the sake of formality and knowing you're working with a legitimate instructor, I'm certified by the China Wudang Kungfu Academy in Hubei, China, the biggest and most well known Taiji/Kungfu school in Wudangshan - the birthplace of Taiji. I also received an honorary Coach Certificate. You can visit their website for more info: www.daoistkungfu.com. I've referred students in the past to go to my school in China and have loved the experience. I know Old Yang Style, Wudang Style, Xuanwu Style, Baghuazhang and select Qigong exercises. For Shaolin, I know over 30 forms and 10 types of weapons.
Q: How can I learn more about Tai Chi outside our classes?
A: We have an app for that! Download today, and you'll learn Basic Movements, the form we do, and even meditation. If you have a VR viewer, it'll allow you to practice our Tai Chi form in virtual reality, giving you the feeling of training in a group in the comfort of your own space. Check it out at:
If you have nothing to do on your Sunday mornings, come by! For any other questions, feel free to contact me through Meetup messages.
-Shifu Itzak Lefler