Tai Chi as a lifestyle

What is Tai Chi?
When I ask people this question, they picture old Chinese people doing exercise in the park, so they see it mainly as a health exercise.

Did you ever think that Tai Chi could be like an iceberg? The top you see above the water is what you see people doing. The rest (most of the mountain) is hidden under water, like most of Tai Chi is hidden in our bodies and mind.

How to start Tai Chi practice?
Tai Chi starts with basic movements and meditation. For me, I also didn’t like meditation the first months of my Tai Chi practice. I found I didn’t want to waste time to just standing still. I wanted to learn the Tai Chi movements and focused on how to perform them well. It was only after I really put some effort in doing the meditation every day for 15 to 20 minutes that I felt a huge difference. I walked differently, like my feet were sucked to the ground with every step and my Tai Chi practice took a whole other level: I had better balance, better focus, better… just an overall huge improvement of my movements.

The basic movements in Tai Chi consist of the figure 8 movement to loosen your hips and to improve coordination with your legs and arms. Our hips are very stiff, because we always do exercise in a linear way: walk, run, cycle,… Our hips don’t loosen, on the contrary, they become more stiff. With Tai Chi you have to move your hips in a circular way, you will loosen your hips and release any blockages you have in any of your joints.

Further Tai Chi practice
With every Tai Chi movement, you focus on your Dantian, the energy center in your body, located just 2 fingers under your navel. From there the energy moves all over your body, to every limb and back to your center. When you feel uncomfortable in a certain area of your body, you have a blockage there. With continued practice and the flow of the movements and Qi (as your energy is called in Chinese), you will release this blockage.

Tai Chi is much more than just exercise, it works with your energy and enhances the natural healing process of your body.

I welcome everyone to my workshops to experience it for yourself. If you can’t attend, send me a private message and we can do an online session. I don’t like to make videos, because you need a teacher to correct your movements. If you do the movements wrong, you will hurt yourself.

Visit my website: http://www.bodymindchallenger.org

“Kathy De Leye. originally from Belgium, has been in China since 2008 where she has been studying Tai Chi ever since. In 2013, she won a gold and silver medal at an international competition in Henan, China. She received a high score in both the traditional and sword form at the Tai Chi World Championship in 2014, respectively 8.65 for her traditional form and 8.88 for her sword form.
Her aim is to let everyone know the benefits of Tai Chi.”


I published my first book!!!

I have published my first e-book on Amazon! This is a lifelong dream come true… The paperback version will be available soon too.
Please give me an honest review about it so I can improve my writing in the future!


My updated website

I have been working on this project for more than 2 years – if you count the years I have been practicing martial arts to the level on where I feel myself good enough to teach it, it would be more than 15 years altogether.

I feel exhilarated at this, because this is something I created all by myself and I want to teach people on how to live the life they want! What is a life not lived intensely anyway?

Please comment below on what you think and how I could help you!


Modeling Jack Ma

A couple of weeks ago, my husband organized a big meeting to explain our new project. After the meeting, a guy came up to me and we were talking about Kung fu and Tai Chi, as he knew I was practicing and teaching Tai Chi.

He told me something very interesting, which my husband also told me but I didn’t want to listen. I knew Jack Ma was practicing Tai Chi and that he had a school for Tai Chi in Hangzhou. But, my husband said that his school was not successful and that even he couldn’t earn much money with it.

I have been frustrated that people didn’t want to pay much money for my Tai Chi classes, even though I have many years of experience and did a few competitions. I wanted to make Tai Chi a part of my career, but have been struggling for 2 years now. Eric, my husband, was already saying that I shouldn’t focus on something that I love, but that I need to earn money in another way and just practice by myself. Which makes more and more sense because I could already feel that I liked Tai Chi less and less, because I became frustrated with me struggling to get students and to try to get people as motivated in Tai Chi as I was. I realize now that I can’t change people: I have to accept that most people don’t see Tai Chi the way I see it.

That man told me that Jack Ma is going to make a movie with him acting in it doing Tai Chi. He has an amazing cast, all big Kung fu and Tai Chi stars will be in it: Jet Li, Donny Yen, even Tony Ya from Thailand. I was amazed that he could pull this off. But, now I realize that I have to do like him: I need to earn money in another way. And when I earn enough (doesn’t have to be as much as him), I can practice Tai Chi and do whatever I want with it, because I will have enough money from my other business(es).

I took Tai Chi as an example, because that is my passion and I was listening to too many videos of following your passion and money will follow. Everyone has a different passion, so you can change Tai Chi into your passion. But, I also found out that I have a few passions. My other and greater passion is to be a coach and stand on stage in front of many people. This new project with my husband will get me there. And, who knows, when I have enough money and enough exposure, I can stand on that stage and teach some Tai Chi there!

Tai Chi teacher in China

I came to China in 2008 to study Kung Fu. I was practicing Kung Fu in Belgium and came to China for the first time in 2007 to travel through the country of this beautiful martial art! I visited tourist places, like Yangshuo, Xi’an and Beijing and also went to Shaolin to see some real Shaolin Kung Fu. When I was in Yangshuo, I met a Kung Fu teacher who had a beautiful family style, BuDiZhen, a mix of Shaolin and Wudang Kung Fu.


I decided to live in Yangshuo for 1 year, study Kung Fu and then I thought of moving back to Belgium. Little did I know back then that my life would never be the same again…


I stayed in Yangshuo and learned from my Kung Fu teacher for 2 years. I had some money saved, so I was an English teacher just part-time and I focused on learning a lot of Kung Fu.

But, after 2 years, I started to hear more about Tai Chi and how it helps you to cultivate your internal energy. I was intrigued by it and finally found a good teacher to teach me Chen Tai Chi.

From 2010, I started to practice Tai Chi. I loved the slow graceful movements, but also the martial aspect of it. Every movement represents a self-defense technique and it is actually hard work. I practiced really hard and went to a couple of competitions: in 2013, I went to Henan, Jiaozuo, the birthplace of Tai Chi to participate in an International competition and I got a gold medal and silver medal. The year after, I went to the World Championship, but didn’t get a medal there.


In 2015, I moved to Shenzhen and I started to teach Tai Chi to expats that I met here. I never thought I could be a Tai Chi teacher in China and I didn’t profile myself like that at first. Some people wanted to know a bit more about Tai Chi and because I could speak English, they asked me to teach them. Little by little, I started to be known as the ‘Tai Chi master’ and more people were texting me to know my teaching schedule.


I am teaching almost every month now and am having more and more students. I am thinking of a whole project to teach Tai Chi as a whole lifestyle: the movements, the history and the philosophy.


When I tell Chinese people that I teach Tai Chi, the first reaction is almost always: but you are not old! Apparently, for Chinese people you have to be old to practice Tai Chi. I always answer: “it’s because I don’t want to become old that I practice.” Because Tai Chi helps to balance your body and mind, makes your body stronger, you will not become old that fast.


I find it a shame that Chinese people don’t want to practice Tai Chi anymore. The new generation is not putting much value on it. I heard that in my country it is becoming very popular. The West is discovering ancient Chinese philosophy: Chinese medicine, Chinese arts and Chinese martial arts are all becoming very popular. But, in China they are becoming less and less popular. Do we, Westerners, in the future will have to teach the Chinese about their traditional culture?


Tai Chi for everyone

I came to China to practice Kung Fu and Tai Chi. I still practice Tai Chi. It’s such a big part of my life, so I want to share some of my personal experience about it.

More and more research is showing how Tai Chi can help you to stay healthy or to help older people to maintain balance, a normal blood pressure, a healthy heart and much more.

In fact, most people still see Tai Chi as something for old people. Even in China, most people forgot about the benefits and the ancient art of Tai Chi and see it just as exercise for the old to keep fit, a bit like aerobics for the elderly.

Nothing can be more from the truth. Tai Chi is more than that, as I will tell you from my personal experience.

When I was younger, I was already interested in martial arts, so I practiced judo and karate, but just as a recreational sports, not for competitions. So, I only practiced twice a week. I was sometimes into running, but was never good at it (2 or 3 km, at most 5km, and I was as red as a tomato and was panting for the next hour).

I loved exercise and I went to the gym frequently, but now I realize that I was never pushing myself. I was never trying to improve much. I just went along with the coach, e.g. during a spinning class, or was just trying to lift heavier weights, but never enough to improve my fitness level.

Until now, I didn’t realize what I was doing. I thought I worked on my health and that I was fit enough. Little did I know.

I hang out with people now who are into mountaineering, marathons and ultraruns. Compared to them, I am in really bad shape. But, I am also amazed at my current fitness level. I can’t run a marathon, but the girl who could only run 2 or 3 km, can all of a sudden run 16km without much preparation. Rock climbing? Ok, I’ll try and to my surprise I can finish routes that are a bit above IMG_20150531_063721beginner level (with pushing myself hard and people shouting encouragement from 20m down, yes, it’s also about overcoming a fear of heights).

How come that I can run 16km in 33 degrees celsius, while my more than 10 years younger self was panting at 3km in a colder climate?

The answer I got after reading some books and after some self-evaluation, is because of my Tai Chi.

Tai Chi gives you good balance, so I will put my feet and my body in a good way, which will make me less prone to injuries. The most important change is my breath. Tai Chi teaches you to breathe deeply and properly, the abdominal breathing. This way of breathing gives me more oxygen, which gives me more endurance. Tai Chi is a fully integrated system: the different movements let all your muscles work and because you practice them in a soft flowing way, you are more aware of what is going on in your body. If you put a foot or other body part in a different position, you will be more aware of it and you will adjust it faster. Another important feature is that it gives you a better posture, so my back is straight all the time. Every time when I curve my back or I slouch a bit, my body will correct itself immediately. This is important for running, but also in our every day life. As we are spending more time behind the computer or on the couch, a good posture is inevitable to stay healthy and fit into old age.

So, Tai Chi gives you a lot of advantages and not only when you are old, you can benefit from it at any age. That said, Tai Chi is no miracle cure too. You should always listen to your body and give your body enough rest after you do strenuous exercise like running. But, as Tai Chi will teach you, be aware of what is going on in your body and you will know when to stop or when to take a rest for some days.

I invite everyone to try some Tai Chi classes and feel the difference yourself.

Exclusive Tai Ji retreat in Bali!!!

I will organize a Chen Tai Ji retreat in Bali from 18 May 2015 till 25 May 2015. This is mainly for beginners to give them some immersion in the world of Tai Ji and Qi Gong in a beautiful setting. So, they will be able to concentrate on Tai Ji during these 7 days, ask questions and practice by themselves. Places are limited! Please help me spread the word. If it’s popular, I will do this more often and invite more teachers – guest speakers to contribute.

This is the program:
18 May: welcome dinner

19 May: morning: 1 hour Qi Gong; breakfast; 2 hours Tai Ji – lunch
afternoon: 2 hours Tai Ji
evening: 15 minutes meditation + question round and share experiences

20 May: morning: 1 hour Qi Gong; breakfast; 2 hours Tai Ji – lunch
afternoon: 2 hours Tai Ji
evening: 15 minutes meditation + question round and share experiences

21 May: morning: 1 hour Qi Gong; breakfast; 2 hours Tai Ji – lunch
afternoon: guest speaker (someone who has been living many years in China, learned
Tai Ji, Qi Gong, acupuncture, Chinese medicine will give a lecture
evening: Balinese evening with dance and buffet

22 May: morning: 1 hour Qi Gong; breakfast; 2 hours Tai Ji – lunch
afternoon: 2 hours Tai Ji
evening: 15 minutes meditation + question round and share experiences

23 May: morning: 1 hour Qi Gong; breakfast; 2 hours Tai Ji – lunch
afternoon: free afternoon to do your own training or go into town and explore Ubud
evening: 15 minutes meditation + question round and share experiences

24 May: morning: 1 hour Qi Gong; breakfast; 2 hours Tai Ji – lunch
afternoon: 2 hours Tai Ji
evening: 15 minutes meditation + question round and share experiences

25 May: morning: 1 hour Qi Gong; breakfast; 2 hours Tai Ji – lunch
afternoon: last 2 hours of training
evening: free

The total cost is 1000 EUR, included a room in a very nice resort in Ubud, Bali, breakfast and lunch included, 1 welcome dinner, 1 Balinese evening, 1 spa treatment, guest speaker and all lessons + video of the form you learned.

If you or any people you know are interested, send me an email at: healthy-body-mind@outlook.com