The story of how Nerd Chi came about is rather boring, but I know that if I heard this program’s name, then I’d be curious about its origins. What it boils down to is that as I did a tai chi instructional dvd, the instructor made it very clear that visualization/imagination was very important to the process. And as he described the moves, my mind most easily related to pop-culture and other nerdy references.
I then thought, “Geez, I wish I’d taken tai chi classes as a teenager – that would have been awesome.” This was mainly because of how fantastic it is at stress relief, and how incredibly easy it is. I mean, in yoga you’re doing some interesting poses, but with tai chi, it’s all smooth and gentle. And that’s when I had a SHAZAM! moment when I realized that I could teach a class at our library!
Thankfully, our Young Adult Librarian and Library Director loved and fully supported the idea. And Nerd Chi was born.
From that point on, I just had to think of every move in terms of nerdery (which turned out to be rather easy for me). I quickly came up with an overall concept of how to explain the concept of chi to the teens: basically that with Wi-Fi everywhere floating through the air, then that means that there are (à la Carl Sagan) billions and billions of internet cats floating through the air around us. (Yes, I know that this isn’t exactly true, but it sure is a blast to share this funny concept which has been well-received).
But seriously? Just type in “tai chi cat” or “taiji cat” into an image search:
Yup! My concept may deserve more serious consideration…
Plus, it’s really fun to say things like “draw the sweet chi cats in, and let the grumpy cats flow out into the earth.” Heh.
So, that’s the overall idea. I created a (not-sure-how-well-it-would-stand-up-in-a-court-of-law since our city’s attorney never got back to us) permission slip for parents to sign. Yes, these routines are incredibly gentle and easy, but I’d never taught a class like this before, and I’d like to try and have both the library and my booty covered in case someone in class tries a backflip. When we convert the class to all-ages in February (yay!), I think that I’ll just have a verbal statement at the beginning of each class where I’ll say something like “follow what I say, stop if you feel anything odd, etc.”
I did create a handout with the different movement’s names so that the teens could better familiarize themselves with the routine. Click on the image for the two-page pdf for a better look, if you’d like to use it yourself, or if you’d like to try your hand at teaching a Nerd Chi class (and yes, the backside/2nd page comes up first, so don’t let that throw you):
Honestly, I was pretty nervous about teaching my first class – mainly the whole “instructor does the mirror image” thing. Like, telling the teens to step out with their right foot while I’m stepping out with my left. But by calling a program “nerdy,” I felt so much more at ease to admit my struggles to the group and they all laughed and were super-supportive (even when I told them to look at their outstretched foot when I meant hand). Also, the moves are slow enough that I generally can think through what I need to say and do before doing them. Yay!
I also keep the above handout by my side so that I can refer to it – and refer to it I do! There’s still so much to think about and say that remembering the order of the 8 Tokens of Arcade gets difficult. The visual cues really help a ton.
Oh – I also bought a (rather expensive) CD of super-nerdy orchestra music. That’s made very nice background music to play and that I enjoy in my own music collection. But, I think that any compilation of softer pop-culture songs would work.
The class, even with me talking a lot, has ended after 25 minutes the first two times. My plan is to do extra repetitions (i.e. bump up everything to 4X), and see if that gets me to the scheduled half hour.
I told my second group of teens that they would get to be on my blog if they wanted and were fine with getting a picture taken. Almost everyone was game to do so! I also asked if they had a preference for what move we should be doing. Naturally, they unanimously picked their favorite move: Hulk with Laser Beam Eyes. We’re not really caring about proper form here – more about striking an impressive “Hulk” pose:
If you’d like to give Nerd Chi a try, then I say go for it (whether at the library or at home). It really adds a fun new dimension to these traditional qigong moves. The actual names for the routines are: Gathering Chi from the Six Directions, The 8 Pieces of Brocade, and Balancing the Heart.
Gaiam produced the AM Tai Chi program that inspired all of this (and they very generously share pretty much the whole thing on both Youtube and their website). But here’s the beginning of the routine:
Furthermore, please feel free to use any of the Nerd Chi logos that Bruce and I created in a very fun joint effort. Yes, the gal holding the Poké Ball is supposed to be a Gravity Falls version of me – so if you’d like to change that up (or anything else about the image), then please feel free to do so. I’d even be fine if you pasted a picture of your face over mine. The nerdier – the better! Click on the image below or at the very top of this post for a clean jpeg:
I hope that you give Nerd Chi a try, and if you do, then I’d love to hear about it!