How to Learn Tai Chi in China
- 1). Decide where you want to study. There are many masters of tai chi in China willing to teach foreign students. However, if you are going to travel all the way to China, choose a well-respected and renowned place for tai chi, such as Chen Village in Henan Province or Wudang Mountain in Hubei Province. Many of the tai chi and kung fu schools have websites with information about their school, but a good school will have a master who can prove his kung fu lineage—meaning he can name his master, his grandmaster, his grandmaster’s master, etc.
- 2). Speak to other students who have studied at the schools you are considering or foreign students who are currently enrolled to gain a better perspective of school conditions and the quality of instruction. All schools have good and bad things about them; you just have to decide what’s best for you. Sometimes you have to sacrifice quality facilities for locale, or an English-speaking master for quality facilities. Very few schools have everything.
- 3). Inquire about housing conditions. When training in China, the school will provide room and board for the duration of your stay. If room is available, reserve your space and let them know when you will arrive. Contacting the school via email is often easier for schools because many Chinese who speak English can often read and write it well, but may struggle in a conversation. However, there should be at least one English speaker at any school teaching foreign students.
- 4). Give the school a deposit, if required. Some schools require a deposit to reserve your space while others have enough space that it is not necessary. You can transfer the money via a wire through your bank. The school will provide their Chinese bank information. Even if you did not have to make a deposit in advance, most schools ask that you pay the fees upon arrival or after inspecting the facilities. Some even allow you to train for a day for free, to see if you would like to stay. The school should offer room and board at a reasonable price, which shouldn’t be more than $800 per month (as of 2010) at schools with exceptional facilities, and much less for schools with simple or substandard facilities.
- 5). Get your visa. Most foreign visitors will need a visa to visit China. Visitors studying tai chi in China only need a tourist visa. Student visas only apply to certified Chinese educational institutions, such as universities. Apply for your visa at a Chinese consulate. If you are already in China and need to extend your visa, go to the nearest tourist office. Most towns and cities have at least one tourist office that can grant Chinese visas.
- 6). Fly to China, travel to your school and meet your school representative. The school will hopefully send someone to meet you at the airport. If you are arriving at the school independently, there should be someone to greet you and show you around. If a master runs a smaller school, he may greet you himself.
- 7). Begin your tai chi studies according to the school schedule. Learning a single tai chi form with little experience can take at least one month. If you are learning tai chi in Wudang Mountain, remember that once you leave, you may have difficulty finding a master who can correct your movements or remind you of the moves you may have forgotten. There are few Wudang masters living and teaching outside China. If you practice in Chen Village, you may have an easier time continuing your studies outside China, because there are many Chen-style tai chi masters living outside China.