Levan Institute brings art of Tai Chi to Bakersfield College

Nicholas Sparling, Reporter

Bakersfield College is bringing the ancient art of Tai Chi to its halls through the Levan Institute for Lifelong Learning. The class is taught by local martial arts instructor David Woods and teaches students martial arts through slow, graceful, gentle movements.

“[Tai Chi is] most commonly practiced by older people who wish to improve their balance, coordination, joint mobility and blood circulation,” said Woods.

Woods is well qualified to be teaching Tai Chi as he has trained all over the world, including what he says was his most inspiring training at the Shaolin Temple in China. That is where he learned Tai Chi.

There, Woods learned the slow, graceful art and also the practical application of Tai Chi, a fighting style.

Woods also teaches Kung Foo San Soo where he holds an 8th degree black belt. He taught at Fighting Dragons, but soon outgrew that facility and moved to Bakersfield Elite Martial Arts where he teaches with two other people.

The Levan Institute for Lifelong Learning sent out a survey to find out what classes would be popular, and Tai Chi came back with a great report. It turns out that they were right.

“I wanted to do a Tai Chi class because it’s a popular topic,” said Robert Allison about catering especially to their demographic of 55 and older. The class turned up full and even waitlisted. Allison became personally interested in Tai Chi when he was in China and saw mostly older people practicing it.

Woods is quite happy with how his class is progressing and the turnout.

“I am very pleased to have a big class with students that are very focused and dedicated. [It is] progressing better than expected,” Woods said. “Because my students are so intent on learning, they learn a little faster than the average Tai Chi student.”

Woods would like to see self-defense and Tai Chi as an actual class on the BC curriculum. He says that his biggest goal “is to kill people’s attitudes before it kills them.  In other words, I teach a very violent form of martial arts in a way that teaches the student to be a more peaceful person.”