What is Tai Chi?

Tai chi is an ancient internal martial art focused on developing spiritual and mental energy or “chi” through motion and breath. In tai chi, which is a form of Kung Fu, martial applications and self-defense techniques are practiced as slow, continuous movements timed with the breath to center the mind and strengthen the body. While tai chi movements may appear simple, synchronizing body and breath in motion requires a great deal of mental focus and is conducive to clearing the mind of other thoughts, making tai chi a functional form of moving meditation.

To be a good martial artist, you need to be in the best of health. Qigong is at the core of improving and maintaining a high level of health. Qigong, pronounced chee-gung - literally meaning energy (qi) work (gong), is a series of movements and forms that use natural tension to generate and move chi throughout the body. Qigong and tai chi are usually practiced together giving you a complete system for health and self-defense.

Practicing tai chi can help you to...

  • Broaden Your Powers of Focus, Clarity and Attention
  • Develop Discipline in All Areas of Your Life
  • Manage Effects of Chronic Stress
  • Rejuvenate Your Mind, Body and Spirit
  • Increase Your Energy Levels and Vitality
  • Have Greater Flexibility and Coordination
  • Enjoy More Restful Slumber

The Science of Tai Chi

Many studies have been done over the years that show the benefits of tai chi to your health and well-being. The studies include such diverse topics as:

Book Your Free Class!

Do you want to know if tai chi is right for you? Discover for yourself the benefits of the ancient art of tai chi and how Lake Norman Tai Chi Center can help you reach your goals by taking a free, no obligation, Introductory Tai Chi Class.

Tai Chi Classes at Lake Norman Tai Chi Center

Our classes are appropriate for adults of all ages and fitness levels and require no previous martial arts experience. You will receive personal feedback and guidance during each class according to your experience and skill level.

Curriculum highlights

  • Fundamentals
    • Breathing techniques - the key to tai chi
    • Stances - how to position the body and establish a strong root
    • Stepping drills - how to move between stances
  • Qigong forms and exercises
  • Open hand (empty hand) forms, which are the slow, flowing movements that tai chi is known for
  • Partner push hands drills, which are slow, moving meditations with a partner that encourage relaxation, sensitivity, and responsiveness
  • Self-defense and martial applications
  • Intermediate and advanced partner forms, weapons forms, and stepping

Demonstrably helped my blood pressure, balance, posture/height, even as age continues to erode all. Both my PCP doctor and orthopedist are big believers in what they see I have accomplished and have stressed that I need to continue.

Pat Blackwell, 81, Mooresville NC Read what else our students are saying about us
  • Standing and moving meditations to deepen the breath and calm the mind

  • Open-hand and weapons forms to stimulate mental agility and awareness of your surroundings

  • Partner push-hands drills to encourage relaxation and responsiveness

What happens in tai chi class?

Each class begins with a series of warm-up exercises to get the blood flowing and the joints loosened. After warm ups the class works together on a group exercise such as qigong, stepping, or zhan zhuang (standing meditation). After that, students work individually or in groups according to their experience level on their curriculum including forms, partner work, and martial applications. This structure allows the instructor to give each student personal attention and guidance, correcting as needed, giving insight into the movements, and instructing on what comes next.

Check out our schedule for class days and times.

Mastery Program at Lake Norman Tai Chi Center

When you demonstrate a level of proficiency as a novice tai chi student, you will have the opportunity to join the Tai Chi Mastery Program. As a Tai Chi Mastery student, you will:

  • Explore an advanced curriculum including partner work, weapons forms, and applications.
  • Attend the monthly Mastery class where we dive deeper into the curriculum and learn advanced forms.
  • Study the other internal Chinese martial arts of Pakua and Hsing-i.

Other internal martial arts taught at Lake Norman Tai Chi Center

Not only is Lake Norman Tai Chi Center one of the few modern schools that teaches authentic Ch’ang style Tai Chi in the tradition of Great Grandmaster Ch’ang Dung Sheng, we also teach other Chinese internal martial arts.

  • Pakua (pronounced ba-gwah) features circular techniques for navigating around an opponent.
  • Hsing-i (pronounced shing-yee) is a linear art that features movement along a straight line.

Studying these arts together gives you a deeper understanding of the arts and how they compliment each other.

Read our blog for more information on internal martial arts.

They opened my mind to challenge myself physically and in a compassionate way. I have noticed increased joint pain and stiffness in the absence of tai chi practice. Also Increased anxiety in response to stress, and less emotional balance. I miss it. I take better care of myself overall when I’m more aware of my body and balance.

Ginny S., 58, Mooresville NC Read what else our students are saying about us

Yoga and Meditation

Yoga and Meditation classes complement what we practice in tai chi.

  • Yoga classes focus on aligning breath and mind through physical practice
  • Meditation teaches us to be present in the moment while not succumbing to the “Wild Monkey Mind” that we all have.

Find more information on our Mediatation and Yoga pages

Book Your Free Class!

Do you want to know if tai chi is right for you? Discover for yourself the benefits of the ancient art of tai chi and how Lake Norman Tai Chi Center can help you reach your goals by taking a free, no obligation, Introductory Tai Chi Class.


Bring a water bottle and a towel if needed. We have yoga blocks, mats, and other props available for sale.

Yes. Tai chi is a life-long art that can be modified as needed for injuries. Let us know about your injury before class so we can help you with modifications. If nothing else, do what you can while seated and still get the benefit of the group instruction.

The kwoon (pronounced guan, like Guam) is the martial arts training hall or studio where classes are held.

Bowing is a traditional sign of respect for our lineage and for the teachings passed from generation to generation by the masters. We bow...

  • Upon entering and leaving the kwoon to establish a training mindset while in the kwoon
  • At the beginning of class to the images of our lineage masters and to the instructors
  • At the end of class to the instructors

A lineage school can trace the martial arts back several generations. At Lake Norman Tai Chi Center, Sifu Dale can trace his lineage back to Master Eric Sbarge, his teacher Grandmaster Ma Foren, and then his teacher Great Grandmaster Ch'ang Dung Sheng.

A lineage school follows the Shaolin Code of Wu-De, or martial virtue. These are guidelines of what is expected of a student and their support of their school.

As a student of a lineage school, your head instructor, Sifu Dale, has gone through over 10 years of training from Master Eric and has his permssion to teach his own students. This ensures that you have the highest quality instruction.