Essentials of Tai Chi and Qigong

Course No. 1908
David-Dorian Ross, International Master Tai Chi Instructor
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300 Reviews
85% of reviewers would recommend this product
Course No. 1908
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What Will You Learn?

  • numbers Follow the rich history of tai chi and qigong to understand how they've become ingrained into cultures worldwide.
  • numbers Explore how the fundamental philosophy of balance and harmony can make your life happier and healthier.
  • numbers Examine the science behind how tai chi and qigong affect almost every major disease.
  • numbers Learn tai chi and qigong techniques that will help you in almost any situation, environment, or location.

Course Overview

If you’ve ever seen a group of people moving in exquisitely graceful dance-like exercises in your local park, gym, or community center, you have witnessed the ancient Chinese arts of tai chi (taiji) and qigong. These ordinary people are improving their health, strength, balance, concentration, and mental well-being—and they are having fun while doing it! Best of all, you can enjoy all these benefits yourself, regardless of your current level of physical fitness.

Tai chi is a philosophy of balance and a pinnacle of the martial arts, known as tai chi chuan (or taijiquan), which means “the ultimate martial art.” Qigong, which is traditionally studied alongside tai chi, means “energy exercise.” Together, these two disciplines are transforming the way people take care of themselves. No need for high-intensity workouts that focus on a limited set of muscles and leave you feeling drained. Instead there is a better, centuries-old way to exercise that has these advantages:

  • The slow-motion moves of tai chi and qigong utilize more of your muscles than other exercises, giving you a total-body workout.
  • Tai chi and qigong are meditation in motion. You lose yourself in the rhythmic flow of the forms. Anxiety and the cares of daily life dissolve away.
  • The documented medical effects of tai chi and qigong include improved heart, lung, bone, and mental health, and an enhanced immune system.
  • Tai chi and qigong require no equipment. You can do them anywhere and need only enough space “for an ox to lie down,” as the traditional expression puts it.
  • People of all ages enjoy tai chi and qigong, while the low intensity of the poses makes them especially well suited for older people.

Essentials of Tai Chi and Qigong is a complete introduction to the practice, history, benefits, and philosophy of these immensely rewarding activities. In 24 half-hour lessons, you learn the fundamentals of tai chi and qigong from an internationally renowned tai chi champion and trainer, David-Dorian Ross, who has been practicing tai chi for more than 35 years.

No other presentation of these venerable arts is as comprehensive and enjoyable. Unfailingly friendly and helpful, Mr. Ross explains each movement in easy-to-follow steps. He has a gift for anticipating a beginner’s questions, leaving no doubt about how you should be positioned for each pose.

And where other video products exist that emphasize mimicking an instructor’s choreography, which can end in boredom or burnout, this course is a multi-layered combination of practical instruction aimed at physical and mental health, together with deep insight into how to motivate and enrich movement and mindfulness in your own life, using the best of qigong and tai chi.

Those already experienced in tai chi and qigong will gain an unprecedented scope of understanding and will find Mr. Ross’s mindset and detailed instructions invaluable for refining their own skills. And his presentation of background topics, such as Chinese philosophy, medicine, and martial arts history, will enrich the practice of tai chi and qigong for everyone.

Master the World’s Most Popular Tai Chi Routine

Each lesson of Essentials of Tai Chi and Qigong starts with a standing qigong exercise to get you energized. In the middle, you perform an easy tai chi movement to get you into the flow. You conclude each lesson with a posture from the Yang family short form, the best known of the different tai chi styles. The 24-movement Yang family short form, often called simply the short form, is the most widely recognized and performed tai chi routine in the world. When you see tai chi practitioners in the park—from Beijing to San Francisco to Paris—they are most likely doing the short form. By mastering one segment of the short form in each lesson, you will be able to join them, and even step out on your own, in no time!

The short form includes such memorable movements as Parting the Wild Horse’s Mane, White Crane Spreads Wings, and Waving Hands Like Clouds. The names are mnemonics to help you remember the graceful shapes you create as you take a step, turn, raise your arms, and then move forward, back, or to the side, making a distinctive figure depending on the movement. One posture beautifully merges with the next, with moves that are the foundation for many other tai chi routines.

You also learn about four other family styles of tai chi, as well as personal modifications you can make so that tai chi and qigong will work for you, no matter what your level of fitness or flexibility.You even investigate rudimentary weapons exercises, as well as a two-person exercise of tai chi, called push hands, that you play with a partner.

Get in Balance and Improve Your Health

Studies by Harvard Medical School and other research centers show that tai chi and qigong have a wide range of health benefits. These include:

  • Blood pressure and cholesterol: Tai chi and qigong are good for your heart, with effects including lowered blood pressure and improved levels of cholesterol.
  • Weight loss: Tai chi burns calories at a surprisingly high rate and reduces stress, making weight loss easier. It is also an excellent activity for people who are overweight.
  • Healthy back: One of the principles of tai chi and qigong is proper body alignment, which leads to good posture. The practice also helps control and relieve back pain.
  • Managing chronic disease: Tai chi and qigong are an effective adjunct to standard medical therapies for chronic diseases, helping you manage symptoms and stay healthier.
  • Better balance: Even simple tai chi and qigong poses improve balance, reducing the risk of falls for older people and those with neurological problems.

Balance also encompasses the way you lead your life, both at home and at work. We are all familiar with the competing demands on our time and attention that produce stress. Practicing tai chi and qigong can help resolve these tensions—not by making them disappear, but by putting them in perspective and making them manageable. Whenever life is in balance, everything works better. This inner harmony is represented by the ancient Chinese yin-yang symbol, and you will be intrigued to learn how completely this idea of balanced opposites permeates Chinese philosophy, medicine, and martial arts—and how tai chi epitomizes the best of those traditions, bringing them together for you in ways that are eminently practical, and potentially life-changing.

Take a Journey of Health and Fulfillment

Impressively graceful, Mr. Ross looks like he was born to do Chinese martial arts. But it’s inspiring to know that he was never athletic growing up; that as an adult he couldn’t sit still long enough to meditate in a seated posture, yet he fell in love with the moving meditation of tai chi; and that he has gone on to win the highest awards ever given to an American for international tai chi performance.

There’s no reason you can’t take a similar journey of health and fulfillment. “The best way to begin,” says this consummate practitioner and guide, “is to find a joy in the basic rhythms. All you have to do is put one foot forward and start.” Take that step and experience the joy of movement yourself with Essentials of Tai Chi and Qigong.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 31 minutes each
  • 1
    The Snake and the Crane
    David-Dorian Ross recounts the history of tai chi and qigong, which are closely related practices. Then he introduces the Yang family short form of 24 individual movements, which is the most widely performed tai chi routine. He closes with his top ten tips for your personal practice. x
  • 2
    First Steps in a Journey
    Start the first of the qigong exercises, called the Frolic of the Five Animals. You also begin a regular routine of simple tai chi drills. Then learn the first two movements in the 24-movement short form: Opening the Door and Parting the Wild Horse's Mane. x
  • 3
    Harmony and Balance
    Continue with the Frolic of the Five Animals. Then delve into the concept of harmony and balance embodied in the idea of yin and yang, which inspires the philosophy and practice of tai chi. Close with Crane Spreads Wings in the short form routine. x
  • 4
    The Ultimate Martial Art
    Tai chi as a martial art is called tai chi chuan (taijiquan), which can be translated as 'the ultimate martial art.' Investigate the defense and fighting aspects of tai chi, which deepen your appreciation for the power behind this seemingly gentle art. Then learn Brush Knee and Push in the short form. x
  • 5
    The Five Families of Tai Chi Practice
    Branch out from the Yang style to see how other families of tai chi perform the movement called Single Whip. Mr. Ross also explains the fascinating history of the five families: Chen, Yang, Wu, Wu/Hao, and Sun. Close with Playing the Pipa in the short form. x
  • 6
    Qigong and the Five Animal Frolics
    Learn the final posture in the qigong series called the Frolic of the Five Animals. Then explore the ancient concept of qi, the life force that underlies the practice of qigong and tai chi. Finally, add Repulse the Monkey to your repertoire of the 24-movement short form. x
  • 7
    Energy Exercise: A Branch of Chinese Medicine
    Deepen your understanding of qi and its role in traditional Chinese medicine, which is radically different from Western medicine. Discover how qigong and tai chi are designed to manipulate qi energy. Close by performing the next movement in the short form: Grasp the Bird's Tail on the left side. x
  • 8
    The First Pillar of Practice: Forms
    Learn how to walk with mindfulness. Then study the first pillar of tai chi practice: forms, which are the choreographed dance-like movements that most people associate with tai chi. For the short form routine, practice Grasp the Bird's Tail on the right side. x
  • 9
    The Second Pillar: Push Hands for Two
    Begin a new qigong series called the Eight Pieces of Brocade. Next, explore the second pillar of tai chi practice: push hands, which involves gentle but challenging sparring with a partner. End with a movement called Single Whip. x
  • 10
    The Third Pillar: Standing Meditation
    Experience the feeling of standing with proper alignment as you explore the third pillar of tai chi: standing meditation. Experiment with a qigong exercise called Standing Like a Tree. Then lose yourself in the next dream-like sequence of the 24 movements: Waving Hands Like Clouds. x
  • 11
    Benefits to the Heart and Immune System
    Delve into clinical studies showing that tai chi excels as a non-pharmaceutical treatment for heart and lung disease, as well as being a valuable adjunct to cancer therapy. In the short form, repeat Single Whip. x
  • 12
    A Healthy Weight and a Healthy Mind
    Continue your study of tai chi and health by looking at its documented benefits for treating obesity and Alzheimer's disease. Then reach the halfway point in your study of the 24-movement short form with a pose called High Pat on Horse. x
  • 13
    Tai Chi Legends: Stories of the Masters
    Marvel at the amazing exploits of classic tai chi masters, including two legendary champions, Zhang San-Feng and Wang Tsung-Yueh, and a historical figure, Yang Lu-Chan, who invented the Yang style. Conclude with another segment of the short form: Stand Up and Kick with Heel. x
  • 14
    Reading the Tai Chi Classics
    Study the oldest and newest chapters in the Tai Chi Classics, watching Mr. Ross demonstrate the principles of proper tai chi technique as he recites the texts. Then learn one of the more martial movements in the 24-part lesson: Boxing Both Ears. x
  • 15
    A Superior Workout: Use More of Your Muscles
    How can the slow dance of tai chi compete with running or weightlifting as a workout? The secret is that tai chi activates many muscles at the same time, burning calories at a high rate. For the short form routine, practice Stand Up and Kick on the other side. x
  • 16
    Eight Pieces of Brocade and a Better Back
    Learn the last movement in the qigong series called the Eight Pieces of Brocade. Then go through the entire routine from the beginning, concentrating on how qigong and tai chi promote correct posture and a better back. Close with Snake Creeps through the Grass from the short form routine. x
  • 17
    Tai Chi Weapons: When Hands Are Not Empty
    As students advance in tai chi, they move from empty hands forms to weapons play, which has the same elegant choreography but with sticks, swords, or spears. Try out this ancient martial art, seeing how even everyday objects can be used for practice. Then master a new movement in the short form: Rooster Stands on One Leg. x
  • 18
    Using the Mind: Inner Organizing Principles
    Focus on tai chiâ's organizing principles, which underlie everything you have learned in the course. These include the balance of yin and yang; softness overcomes hardness; and use mind, not strength. Close with Snake Creeps through the Grass on the other side. x
  • 19
    Mental and Physical Flow
    Experiencing life with balance and harmony requires that you master flow, which is a traditional principle of tai chi. Look at both mental and physical aspects of flow. Then for the short form, study Rooster Stands on One Leg on the other side. x
  • 20
    Creating Space for Choices
    Imagine what it would be like if you were never entrapped by stress again. Thanks to your study of tai chi and qigong, this blissful state is already in your grasp. For your next segment of the 24-movement routine, perform Fair Lady Works at Shuttles. x
  • 21
    Flow at Work: When Business Is in Balance
    Discover how to integrate the outlook and practice of tai chi into your work life. Study a routine that you can do in your office or cubicle, as it requires only one step in each direction. Then, learn Looking for the Needle at the Bottom of the Sea. x
  • 22
    Energy Flow in Your Surroundings
    Qigong manipulates the flow of qi in your body. Learn how the art of feng shui allows you to harmonize qi energy in your surrounding environment. Also investigate the ancient Chinese five element theory. Close with Opening the Arms Like a Fan in the short form. x
  • 23
    Taking Practice Deeper
    Mr. Ross devotes this entire lesson to the 24-movement short form, showing you how to take your practice to a deeper level by mastering subtleties in the poses and transitions. Go through all the moves you have learned so far. x
  • 24
    The Evolution of Tai Chi
    After warming up with a final qigong exercise, analyze how tai chi is helping millions in the Western world adapt to the challenges of 21st-century life. Then learn the concluding exercises of the short form: Deflect Downward, Parry, and Punch; and Closing the Door. See how everything you've learned comes together while performing the entire 24-movement series. x

Lecture Titles

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What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
Instant Video Includes:
  • Download 24 video lectures to your computer or mobile app
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 24 lectures on 4 DVDs
  • 160-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 160-page course synopsis
  • Suggested readings
  • Activities
  • Bibliography

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Your professor

David-Dorian Ross

About Your Professor

David-Dorian Ross, International Master Tai Chi Instructor
David-Dorian Ross is the founder and CEO of TaijiFit and the creator of the TaijiFit mind-body exercise program. He has a B.A. in Human Movement Studies from San Francisco State University, has completed graduate course work in Physical Education and Chinese, and is currently developing a project with the head of the Harvard Medical School research department to study the stress-reduction benefits of tai chi (taiji) in...
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Essentials of Tai Chi and Qigong is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 300.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Essentials of Tai Chi and Qigong Excellent video. Have purchased several other Tai Chi videos and this is by far the most thorough in background and instruction.
Date published: 2020-02-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fun, Easy to learn Very informational and easy to follow. Calming Share together with my friends. We have a fun group.
Date published: 2020-02-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoyable I started practicing qigong at my local YMCA a couple of years ago. This course has added so much to my knowledge of this practice. I enjoy the information as well as learning the movements of Tai Chi. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to improve their general health.
Date published: 2020-02-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Simple instructions!! Master Ross separates foot & hand movements for easy learning, then puts them together. He explains how movements practiced on the physical level will help our over all harmony & balance.. A wonderful course for the WHOLE person!!
Date published: 2020-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Tai Chi and Qigong Love the DVD and book, all I hoped they would be and more. Affordably priced, too
Date published: 2020-01-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Outstanding video with incredible presenter. The video is of very high quality, both technically as well as in content. The instructor is very knowledgeable and has a great way of imparting his knowledge. The only flaw is that the demonstrations are not done consistently. Sometimes there is an insert that provides that same perspective as the viewer and other times that frame is not provided.
Date published: 2020-01-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Good Pacing Counts The online class is working better for me than the in person class I took. I like being able to practice each move as many times as needed before moving on. Each move is also broken down into simple steps which makes it easier to get it right. I want to add that I don't appreciate the zillions of sales emails I get from Great Courses. I've tried to unsubscribe, but it's not easy and seems to take a long time to take effect. There should be choices of how much followup email to receive.
Date published: 2020-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Way to Begin I recently purchased this course and just finished the second episode -- and I love it! I appreciate the instructor's friendly and encouraging style. He breaks down the moves and repeats them, so you can follow along easily with the video and practice on your own. He also provides background and context for what you're learning.
Date published: 2020-01-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Essentials of Tai Chi and.Qigong I love this course because David-Dorian Ross tells us about Tai Chi and slowly teaches us the movements of the art. Excellent teacher.
Date published: 2020-01-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good teaching, essentials covered fully and well. Learned Beijing 24 form and lots of Qi Jong quickly and thoroughly. Great background and theory lectures, mostly. Too much the televangelist in one of the lectures, and I wish we could lose the cheesy music.
Date published: 2019-10-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Easy to follow steps and interesting lectures. This is a good course for easy steps to follow and interesting facts about Tai Chi and Tai Chi history.
Date published: 2019-09-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Lessons I just bought this and have listened to and am now practicing the first lesson. Easy to follow along and understand. I am looking forward to all the benefits these lessons have to give.
Date published: 2019-08-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Essentials of Tai Chi and Qigong I bought this course this month and so happy I did. The teaching method is very easy to follow. Thank you for taking the time to put this program together.
Date published: 2019-08-15
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Great if your dyslexic I can't do it, Captain. Watching this guy do everything and having to reverse it all in my head is very distractiing for me. A split screen wiht both views would have been useful. As is, I can't do this.
Date published: 2019-08-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Follow Relatively easy to follow David , I’m sure as I practice longer it will flow better
Date published: 2019-08-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best ever David Dorian Ross makes learning something new fun and easy. Great for seniors.....
Date published: 2019-08-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from well presented A well presented series of lectures giving the history and philosophy of Tai Chi and Qigong, as well as showing the moves. A pity there is not an extra disc that shows just the individual moves, one after the other because in order to learn each move one has to replay the entire lecture to find where they start and finish. Other than that I've enjoyed the course and want to study both martial arts further.
Date published: 2019-07-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent I am only on lecture 7 but the information is great. I do have to rewind every now and again to learn the moves. Very informative on TaiChi which is what I was looking for. I highly recommend this if you want to learn TaiChi on your own like me. I have some martial arts background which helps but this is very easy to understand.
Date published: 2019-07-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great teacher! I am really enjoying this course. It touches on the history of Tai Chi, and the moves are broken down so it's easy to follow. The teacher is great, you get the feeling he enjoys the class and wants everyone else to enjoy it
Date published: 2019-07-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Easy to Understand and Apply I had just begun using this course, and I love the simplicity of it meditation for me!
Date published: 2019-07-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Exercise I bought this course for myself and it was great. The instruction is perfect and the exercise is just what I need. I then bought the course for someone else.
Date published: 2019-06-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Exceptional Course I bought this course for my wife. She is very happy with it.
Date published: 2019-05-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It's perfect I am enjoying this course very much. The instructor is very thorough and knowledgeable and does a great job showing you each move and telling you all about the material and history of the course.
Date published: 2019-05-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Just trying something new like this is fun Having only gotten through 4 lectures so far, and trying the steps demonstrated in those, I can already vouch for Professor Ross' excellent teaching skill and ability in demonstrating the Tai Chi movements which he breaks down into manageable parts. It's so rewarding to even learn one part of this elegant movement meditation exercise.
Date published: 2019-05-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Properly paced for beginners I especially like the excellent breakdown of each element of the "short" form, and the excellent videography in the studio, which clearly shows the sequential movements of the hands and feet. I also find the historical and philosophical background information provided by the instructor interesting and informative. The pace is right for a beginner, and gives plenty of time and multiple examples to help the student "own" the content of each lesson.
Date published: 2019-04-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Looks good but haven't gotten far Looks good . Have only viewed first lesson, but instructor seems qualified and effective as a teacher. Might give it 5 after more time.
Date published: 2019-04-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A True Master Great DVD presentation. Very professionally explained, lots of practices and repeats so the student can understand and have time to absorb the new techniques. The professor is a true Master. He gives a good and positive vibe. I really enjoyed each lesson/class. I loved the atmosphere, the music, the voice tone of the Master and the personal touch of life experiences.
Date published: 2019-03-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Pleasant instructor, but poor menu structure I'm still working my way through the coarse. The background and underlying philosophy is interesting and well presented. I marked it down to 3 stars for two reasons: 1- There is no way to quickly get to the actual exercise forms at the end of the chapters than to fast forward every time you come back to it. The menu structure should allow one to go straight to each form or movement. 2- Granted this may be my problem, but I find it difficult to mirror the instructor's movements. The views in the small window from the rear of the instructor are very sparse. And that makes it very challenging for me to learn the forms. If both of these criticisms were addressed, I'd give it 5 stars. That said, while I'm just getting started I am finding benefits to the practice already. Enough to push ahead despite the challenges.
Date published: 2019-03-08
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Wish I hadn’t bought this I’ve watched the first two lessons, about 65 minutes total. Actual movement instruction, less than 10 minutes. I really don’t care what in what dynasty what form evolved, I bought this set to MOVE, not listen. Plus, instructor faces class, so when he does do an exercise, the class is expected to figure out how to do it backwards. Much better had he not faced the class. Small window does this, too small to be helpful. I’m very disappointed
Date published: 2019-03-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Knowledgeable Instructor!! I bought this course as a refresher and to learn the short set. I have studied Tai Chi, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chinese Massage, and several different martial arts. I was delighted that the instructor included these concepts and showed the links between them all. He is very knowledgeable and presents the information in an easily to understand format. If given the opportunity, I would give this course a 4.5 rating. I marked it down only because it is more difficult to learn by video without the assistance of an on-site instructor. I would highly recommend this course and this instructor.
Date published: 2019-02-25
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