Dr. Robert Santee has been the only Taiji and Quigong professor at Chaminade University for the past 11 years. At the beginning of his class, Santee takes his students outside to the courtyard tent and teach them the Chinese Taiji and Quigong forms.
“It’s beneficial for one’s physical health, psychological health, and well-being,” said Santee, 63. “When I teach the Taiji and Quigong in class, it’s also a way of providing an alternative message to explore same concepts that I explore in class. So if I’m talking about stress-release and feeling relaxed as a result of doing a particular thing in class and then going out and having the students do the Taiji so they can actually feel it.”
Taijiquan and Quigong are Chinese styles that deal with different Chinese forms and aspects to increase the flow of blood in a person’s body, and increasing the flow of chi within the body. It helps a person with balance, harmony, establishing health and well-being.
Santee is currently teaching a class called “Psychology of Taijiquan” and that class looks at the practice of Taijiquan and looks at how Chinese culture is imbedded within the very practice of the form itself. His teachings pull out the different aspects of Chinese culture for health, physical fitness, spirituality and cross-culture awareness.
Santee said that Taiji used to be a martial art. A way of self-defense, yet over time it was drawn more toward a focused way of relieving stress, improving ones health and well-being. For some it opens up doors for spirituality and becoming one with the universe.
“Even though I never taken it before, it’s a great experience,” said Jose Vargas, 23, a current student of Santee’s Transcendental psychology class. “His style of teaching maybe a little different from others, but yes, he does make you take Taiji before actual classroom time, but it also opens you to other perspectives. It allows you to go out of the box, expand your horizons and allows you to actually get comfortable with yourself and relax.”
Santee’s class exposed Vargas to Taiji for the first time. He said that when he started Taiji, he wasn’t really comfortable with it, but after awhile he started to get used to it. A student gets to learn a little more about the background and how it can actually help instead of hurting a person.
“I think it’s a great experience that he’s done it before, he actually studied under people and it’s just another perspective of life,” Vargas said. “Being well-rounded is something that makes you stronger instead of making you weaker, knowing a little about everything helps you throughout life.
Santee said that Quigong is not a self-defense and it was a term that became known in 1947. It originated from ancient tradition Tao Yin, which dealt with guiding, pulling, stretching, and opening up the meridians in your body so energy can flow.
“All the classes that follow the Marianist educational values,” Santee said. “The second Marianist educational value is a Holistic education. Part Holistic education is physical and spiritual. You don’t usually get that in classes, you can get that in academics. So all my classes include that for that purpose. Some of the classes that I use it for are for the purpose of becoming aware of a culturally different approach to managing ones health and well-being.”
Santee uses different Chinese forms, but the basic principles are the same. The individual would have to be flexible, relaxed, focused, in balance and have an empty mind.
His method when it comes to Chinese Taiji and Quigong is that it gives more of a whole picture. It’s a way of providing information about particular topics not only academically but physically and psychologically.