Professor teaches members of Platteville community Tai Chi

Professor Thomas Pitcher teaches  class participant tai chi move  “Push Hands” during their class on Monday evening

Sara Myers

Professor Thomas Pitcher teaches class participant tai chi move “Push Hands” during their class on Monday evening


Members of the community attended a beginner’s Tai Chi course instructed by English professor Thomas Pitcher.

According to, Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese discipline of meditative movements practiced as a system of exercises similar to yoga.

In the class, participants learned different movements such as “grounding” and “push hands.” Grounding is similar to meditation but you are standing straight with your arms on both your sides. Pitcher instructed the class to start with grounding at the beginning because it helps calm you down and focus on your breathing.

For Pitcher, Tai Chi is something he learned and kept up with as a teenager.

“I really started to be serious about yoga when I was 16, but my parents did yoga so I learned a few moves,” Pitcher said. “I did a speech on it actually for high school for a class.” After learning about the background of Tai Chi, Pitcher took it up as a hobby and now teaches through his company Simple Self Yoga.

“In addition to it being a good balance in my own life, it’s awesome to see how much people get out of tai chi,” Pitcher said. “These days anything we can do to slow down and ground is great.”

During the class, Pitcher asked that with every arm movement the participants make they should take a deep breath in and out. He taught different moves that included “riding the horse”, which is swinging your arms back and forth. Pitcher often asked participants to try a movement on their own and during this time would go around and help each individual with their movements and provide some helpful tips.

He explained to them that everyone’s form is a little different. In some forms of Tai Chi bending isn’t as important as other factors like finding your balance. The most important part, Pitcher says, is developing your own strength, peace and mind.

Many different alumni attended the event, including alumna Luann Dressler.

“I was a teacher so we heard through continuing education about the class.” Participant Karen Canny added she took the class to “gain balance,” Dressler said.

Tai Chi is held at the university in Russell 120 from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. on Monday nights from now util the end of the semester. The class is taught through University of Wisconsin-Platteville Continuing Education. For more info on how to sign up for the whole series go to