By Margo Bock The art of T’ai Chi Ch’uan, the mysterious meditative movements rooted in martial arts boxing, originated nearly 1,000 years ago by the Taoist monk Chang San-Feng who lived far off in the mountains of China. But one doesn’t have to travel that far to find a community dedicated to preserving this ancient heritage. For 30 years, instructors Ray Hayward and Paul Abdella have been teaching the Yang-style form of T’ai Chi at Twin Cities T’ai Chi Ch’uan Studio (TCTCC), 2242 University Ave., Suite 207. The studio was started by a group of friends who wanted to study T’ai-Chi together. Since then, the school has developed a full curriculum for teaching T’ai-Chi to both students and instructors. Hayward and Abdella’s teacher, Master T.T. Liang, whose form they follow today, was born in China in 1900 and came to the United States in 1964 with his teacher, Professor Cheng Man-Ch’ing. Cheng studied with the third generation of the Yang family. Hayward and Abdella studied with Master Liang until the end of his life in 2002. Liang had a good command of English and a vast knowledge of classical Chinese, which helped non-Chinese-speaking students, Hayward said. “These qualities, coupled with a Bob Hope-like wit, made learning Ta’-Chi from him a delight.” Abdella describes T’ai-Chi as the best exercise. “It can ward off disease, banish worry and tension, bring improved physical health and prolong life,” he said. “Health is a matter of the utmost importance and all the rest is secondary.” TCTCC’s classes focus on the promotion of health and self-defense techniques. As a nonprofit, the school strives to offer classes at reasonable rates and maintains a full-time teaching staff. “We believe anyone can learn and benefit from the practice of T’ai-Chi regardless of age and physical condition,” Abdella said. “The most important principle of T’ai-Chi is to relax. We want everyone to experience a greater level of relaxation.” “Education in the western world has excluded an important factor of human development: the harmonious integration of mind and body,” Hayward said. “T’ai-Chi helps develop and exercise both the intuitive and intellectual aspects of the individual.” Ultimately, the study of T’ai-Chi Ch’uan becomes the study of oneself, Abdella said. The studio will be hosting a Chinese New Year celebration that will include a dragon dance and demonstrations on Saturday, Feb. 22, at 6 p.m. The public is invited to attend. To find out more about the studio go to http://tctaichi.org. Margo Bock is a member of Twin Cities T’ai-Chi Ch’uan Studio.