Tai chi, short for tai ji quan, is an internal Chinese martial art practiced for its defense training, health benefits, and meditation. The art is sometimes practiced in a park by a group of people slowly moving their arms and legs from one side to another in one pose to the next.
Dana Charvet's advice to individuals interested in learning about the art is to choose the right teacher. He said you simply have to ask a teacher what place breathing has in their tai chi teachings.
"Whether it's mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual, we have a breath that matches it and we have a body posture for it, too," Charvet said as he demonstrated breathing and moving in certain postures.
It's called the root of breathing, which is all about how you breathe—inhale and hold, exhale and hold—how those breaths can make you wake up or feel tired, and imagining taking a breath from one place on the body and exhaling it out another.
Charvet would know, as he was just inducted into the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame as the 2019 tai chi instructor of the year.
Charvet teaches tai chi in Morro Bay at the Grateful Body training center. He focuses on tai chi and qigong—a Chinese system of physical exercise and breathing control—basics and calls his class Zen in Motion. His students practice deep breathing and moving meditation, stretching, soft neck and back exercises, Shaolin yoga (a combination of yoga and martial arts), and energetic medicine.
Charvet has an extensive background in mixed martial arts that started when he was young. His grandfather and mother were both black belt holders and Charvet felt compelled to stay in that environment. He has a black belt, was a member of the U.S. judo and boxing teams in 1980-81, and went to the Olympics with his team. He's won a World Kickboxing Championship and was recognized as jiu-jitsu instructor of the year and Mixed Martial Arts Master of the Year. He's even been the master chief instructor for American Self Defense Programs and a fight coordinator for ESPN when the mixed martial arts fighting program was in its beginning stages.
He said he teaches because of the difference it makes in people's lives.
"To have somebody and share something with them and have them become better than they would have normally been without your help, that's what helps me. It's the deal I made with my teachers: 'I'll show you this but you have to show someone else,'" Charvet said.
Tami Cruz, a holistic health and lifestyle coach who also works for her local post office, has been working with Charvet for more than three years, taking his classes and referring her clients to his classes. Cruz said she recommends that her clients take Charvet's classes because she's seen it work for her first-hand.
"I know that it has helped me to remember to breathe when I'm rushing and in a hurry. It will calm my nervous system, which, I have to say, I didn't pay attention to," Cruz said. "If it wasn't for this I'd probably be disabled right now with injuries of repetition from the work (with the post office) I've done for 31 years."
To learn more about Charvet's classes or how to sign up, call (805) 701-7397 or visit the training center located at 850 Shasta St., Morro Bay.
People's Self Help Housing efforts to support low-income Latina students pursue their dreams of higher education received $20,000 from The Community Foundation of San Luis Obispo. People's Self-Help has a program called the College Enrollment for Latinas Entering Bright Rewarding Educations (CELEBRE). It's an extension of the nonprofit's College Club, a site-based educational program that equips students with the skills and knowledge to attend a higher education institution. It's a program that provides support and guidance from application to graduation. The Community Foundation supported the CELEBRE program with a $25,000 grant, making for a visionary contribution of $45,000 in total. To learn more about People's Self-Help and their efforts, visit pshhc.org. Δ
Staff writer Karen Garcia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.