On Sunday, April 10th, 2016 the William & Mary Confucius Institute held an event in anticipation of World Taiji and Qigong Day in the Tidewater A&B rooms in the Sadler Center. This year was the second time WMCI has put on a celebration of Taiji and Qigong as well as other traditional Chinese medicine health techniques and exercises.
Stan Rockwell, a long time Taiji practitioner and more recent instructor of the art, started the afternoon by introducing the audience to the history of World Taiji and Qigong Day, which started in 1999 as a way to increase awareness about these two forms of alternate medicine and healing techniques. Rockwell explained that World Taiji and Qigong Day is typically held on the last Saturday of April (this year it will be the 30th), each year when all people around the world are invited to perform meditative exercise at eight AM. Flexibility, he joked, is one of the main elements of Taiji, and he asked everyone to be flexible with the two week early event.
David Hamilton, a Qigong practitioner and teacher, and a group of his students went up front to perform a Taiji demonstration which helped stretch out the joints and used static poses while they were accompanied by WMCI Volunteer Teacher Mengxia Zhang on the Pipa. Next, Maria Miao, a rising junior at W&M, performed a combination taiji-dance exercise which incorporated both a fan and a dancing costume with long sleeves while accompanied by freshman Rui Yin on the guzheng. Rockwell then performed a series of Taiji techniques, followed by Meghan Bryant who presented a similar routine. After, the PCAA Taiji Club performed three exercises: the first was a group of members performing a synchronized series of exercises, followed by a single student’s sword techniques, with a group sword demonstration last.
After the welcoming ceremony and opening presentations, the attendees split into two groups, dividing between Tidewater A and Tidewater B. In the first group, Rockwell talked about using Taiji and Qigong for health benefits. Rockwell incorporated Chinese Taoist ideas of virtue, inaction, qi flow, meditation, and other techniques into his talk. Rockwell talked about the spiritual, mental, and physical benefits of practicing Taiji and conscious exercise to the audience while engaging them and walking them through steps of it. On the other side of the divide, Hamilton performed Wuji Qigong Short and Long forms. After demonstrating these to the students, he walked them through the method to perform the Swimming Dragon, Dragon Pearl, and Bagua Xun Dao Gong exercises.
For the last portion of the event, Meghan Bryant and Brigitte Fox gave demonstrations and lectures in the two rooms. Bryant, who is a practitioner and instructor of Taiji in Charlottesville, came to present and talk on the Silk Reeling techniques. Silk Reeling is a beginner technique used to introduce new students to taiji through spiraling motions which resemble the processing of silk. In the other room, Brigitte Fox gave a lecture on the benefits of acupuncture. She explained the concepts of meridians, qi, and energy fields as well as some of her own personal philosophies and beliefs. She also drew diagrams to show how acupuncture works through opening certain gates around the body, which then interact with the organs and other parts of the body. By opening these passageways or clearing them, acupuncturists can heal many different ailments.
After the events were done, World Taiji and Qigong Day attendees walked away with much more information on traditional Chinese medicine and healing techniques. The event was attended by around 100 people. Be sure to practice mindful exercise at eight A.M. on Saturday, April 30th when the real World Taiji and Qigong Day will take place this year. Although you may be alone, you can still practice Taiji or Qigong at that time as part of the concept of, “One World, One Breath.”