Tai Chi is not regulated in the United States. There actually is no certification in Tai Chi. This is an eastern martial art, that developed into an exercise program for health and wellness based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
Tai Chi has been passed down from generation to generation by tai chi practioners in the east. Those westerner practioners who were fortunate to travel to China and take classes, brought it to the U.S. Later, teachers from China and elsewhere in the east, realized the interest in the U.S. and also came here to teach. However, in the beginning, not even they offered certification.
If you happen to purchase a dvd by Terrence Dunn, Yang Style Tai Chi, Short Form, you will notice in his closing statement, while he is performing tai chi, he states there is no certification in Tai Chi. I am not aware who the first person in the U.S. was that decided to start certification, but it most definitely was a plan for that person to make money, and how do we know that person was qualified. Since there was no certification, does that mean he certified himself.
This is no different than the first person many, many, years ago back in ancient times or earlier, who learned how to treat an illness with herbs, then passed on the knowledge until someone was given the title Dr. Then someone decided there was money to be made by teaching this practice and presenting a certificate. Then the government gets involved and regulates it so they can also make money and give out degrees. However, medicine is obviously much more complex and has come a long way than just healing with herbs.
Tai Chi, on the other hand, stays the same, each form if taught in its original form, does not change, unless someone decides to modify it for their own financial benefit and call it something like, Tai Chi for Better Abs. : )
Everything has a beginning and once it takes off, then someone makes it into a money maker.
I will add, in China, when Tai Chi is taught as a martial art, there is ranking and competition, in which case there is certification. As a martial art, you are talking self defense, in which case you can cause excessive harm.
However, Tai Chi is for health. The only thing you are trying to attack is illness. By practicing tai chi, in its original form, whether Yang Style, Chen Style, or one of the other orginal styles, you build the immune system and keep the body healthy.
In reference to Dr. Paul Lam’s certification, he is a medical doctor and he has arthritis. Since he has studied tai chi for many years, he used postures from the Sun style tai chi form and created Tai Chi for Arthritis. He then sold his idea to start a tai chi program for arthritis to the American Arthritis Foundation in which they are able to make a profit by offering certification to those who take this class for two eight hour days.
However, I am aware of a tai chi instructor who had taken this class and stated in class descriptions where she taught, that she was a certified tai chi instructor, when in fact she was only a certified tai chi for arthritis instructor. She is not certified in any other type of tai chi.