Newsletter #0 - September 2002
- Story of my global trip - Taiwan
- From Cristine Clements, Principle Instructor, Nelson School of T'ai Chi,New Zealand
- Story of my global trip - Canada, Alberto
- Goal Teasers - tips to achieve your goals
- Catching up by Dahlist Roy
- Quack Quack- "cures" for arthritis
- A letter from Penny
- Letter by Professor David Ritchie
- My Experience with TCA
By Sam Moskwa, Canberra, ACT, Australia
- A certified Tai Chi for Arthritis instructor
Robin Malby, Concord, California
5th of January 2002 at 11 PM, Carol and myself, Cristine arrived at St Vincents College Potts Point Sydney, for one week of T'ai Chi which both of us had enrolled, to learn the 73 Sun competition form. We were met and given our enrolment pack, seen to our single rooms on the 1st floor of the boarding college by one of the co-ordinators, Anna. It was a warm night of 37c, getting a bit late so we both headed off to bed. As next day was full of discovery, starting with breakfast cooked by our very own chef. 9 am the gathering crowd of 120 students of all various backgrounds and ages meet at the college assembly hall. As this was how our next 7 days started.
The greeting by Paul Lam pointed out that we had a exciting week in front of us. Kicking off each morning with a talk and a demonstration. We certainly were treated to some 1st class T'ai Chi and Wushu. Most nights we had entertainment from T'ai Chi Fan to Chinese Culture. Sydney was kind to us as the temperature cooled as the week went on.
18 Ladies and Gents had signed up for the Sun we had 2 instructors the principal, Kan Lau Fung a Chinese gent from Hong Kong and a wonderful Scottish lady Moira Peters as assistant. After assembly we had 1 hour tuition with Kam, morning tea another hour with Moira as practice, then lunch. Followed by another hour with Kan, afternoon tea and then practice with Moira. Finishing around 4 PM. This sounds easy but as the days went on walking up and down those stairs to your room got harder and more vocal with ohhhhs and ahhhhs. Kan was kind to us and started with only 6 movements to remember and practice. But it did not last that way. Next day we got 10 plus movements. This set the pace for the rest of the 6 days. 73 is a lot to digest in one week
We had people amongst us from USA who gave the class an International flavour. As more and more was asked of our failing memories we all started to support and suggest extra practice out in the garden of this beautiful old college. It was a amazing venture, we had views of Sydney skyline and Harbour Bridge as you freshened up in the swimming pool. If you weren't exhausted by the days end just around the corner is Kings Cross, (for a bit of light entertainment), or as Carol and I did, nip out for a mango (size of a football) and ice cream straight back to the college balcony with feet up, enjoying a tropical treat, watching the bats fly overhead as the sun set over Sydney. What a way to go.
We all progressed very well I thought everyone got on well with each other, friendships were developing. It was just so neat to be with over 100 people who are just as crazy about T'ai Chi as I am. Watching others practice and struggle with what they have just learnt seeing the concentration and then a smile when suddenly something has just click into place. What a wonderful week.
There was a special guest Professor Kan Gui Xiang. One of the 5 most authorities of T'ai Chi with us. She was teaching a Chen Style class. We were all treated to a demonstrations by her towards the end of the week. Paul Lam also did a Chen Form. Our instructor Kam showed us his skills as well.
The Sun class was very lucky to have him as our main teacher as he knows so much about how to get the very best from the form. I learnt a lot more about T'ai Chi and the workshop gave me more confidence. Day 6 Saturday arrived when we finished the whole form Yahooooo, what a great feeling. But then to be told the very next day we were to demonstrate in front of the whole school. we certainly came down to ground very quickly. The need to practice more was very much the pressing point. To perform the form you just learnt a few days before in front of Prof. Kan and 100 others was not good for the nerves. But we did it. As we always do the T'ai Chi way, relax, don't look at anyone, and smile inwardly, enjoy the moment., that only T'ai Chi really can give you.
I would not have missed this Paul Lam Experience for any thing. To be given the opportunity to learn a complete new form and then come back here to pass it on to others is a privilege. It is most satisfying to know that there are some very good schools out there who are open enough to also enjoy teaching and passing on T'ai Chi. The Paul Lam School is one of them.
Check them out on www.taichiproductions.com.
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The Taiwan Trip
It had been 28 years since I was last in Taiwan, and I remember enjoying it. So when I was invited to run a Tai Chi for Arthritis workshop there, I accepted without hesitation. I recalled the people there - honest, industrious, sincere and simply nice.
Not only did I look forward to the workshop. I also couldn't wait to try out Taiwan's tea. Over the last 28 years, I developed new interests in refined Chinese tea. (In case you haven't read my article on the history of Chinese tea, how to choose good Chinese tea and how to make special Chinese tea, go to my web site, look under the article page, and there you can read more about Chinese tea.)
On this trip, high on our agenda was a visit to a tea museum and to see the Chinese tea mountain. We went to meals that are known as "tea banquets" where every dish has something to do with tea. I enjoyed the trip to the tea mountain. The best tea is grown at the top of the mountain where there is little pollution. Up there, the air is sweet and the scenery beautiful. It was a long way up but it was worth the hours of driving. (I've included a picture of the mountain's beautiful river and also a picture of some tea bushes.)
Taiwan has some of the most precious collections of Chinese antiques. When the Taiwanese government left China, they must have taken some precious national treasures from the palace. Quite a few of them ended up in the Taiwan National Museum. (See the accompanying photos, especially the ones with the tea pots).
End of the Taiwan trip article.
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It was 1 a.m. when we arrived, and going through customs, I was retained by an immigration officer. He wanted to know why I was coming to Canada, did I want to make a lot of money, did I want to be an illegal migrant worker. When I told him I was giving a workshop, he asked me what workshop I was going to run, who I was staying with, and so on.
The immigration officer asked me where I was going and I told him that I was going to Alberta, Calgary. He was quite amused and explained that Alberta is the province and that Calgary is the major city. He wanted to know the address and telephone number of the person with whom I was staying. I could only remember the name. Having packed in a hurry, I'd forgotten to bring the address and contact details of my local host, Judy.
"Well, if you don't know where you're going, how are you going to get there?" he asked. I explained that someone would be picking me up. He wanted to know how that someone would recognise me and do I know who this person is… lots of questions to which I didn't know the answers.
Since I'd never been stopped by immigration before, I was not prepared for these questions. And traveling as much as I do, on occasion I even forget where I am. Thankfully, wherever I go, my local host always manages to pick me up.
So here we were, my tai chi colleague, Ian Etcell and me, at Canada's immigration department at 1a.m. The good officer was getting frustrated. "How can I let you into Canada?" he asked. "You don't know where you're going. You don't know who you're staying with. And you're not too sure what you going to do."
In desperation, I told him that I was a famous tai chi expert. I figured he'd probably seen me on the cover of my videos in department stores. The guy looked at me as if he was thinking, "This guy is weird! This is so ridiculous he just couldn't be lying," and he said aloud, "Okay. I'll let you off. I'll give you five days in Canada." I thanked him and promised not to stay any longer.
So that was Canada. Naturally, when we arrived in Alberta, our luggage did not. But the workshop, the people, and the Chinese food more than made up for all our inconvenience.
Did I learn any lessons? I'd like to say yes, but…
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Spend more time planning
You might have noticed people who are very busy get things done. Perhaps you're like that. But have you ever noticed that at the end of the day, somebody else with abilities similar to yours achieves a lot more without being as busy? Chances are this person spends more time planning.
You need to identify what contributes more significantly toward your goal and what contributes less. You need to be clear of your goals, then spend time planning how to work effectively toward it. If you have spend 80 % of your time working with tasks that only contribute 20% toward your goal then you need to re-examine how to spend your time more effectively. Plan to spend more time on the 80% and you will achieve a lot more.
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Catching up by Dahlist Roy
How can we catch up when there is so much to do? Everyday we feel overwhelmed with tasks we must do and wind up exhausted and frustrated. Even written lists do not help sometimes. Surprises happen, good and bad, are we flexible enough to pick up energy we need and yet remain centered and focused?
For me, the first step toward balance is Tai Chi practice. This Tai Chi energy helps to bring clarity to the day, fog lifts to blue sky. When I was first learning Tai Chi, I put it on my daily list because I tended to push practice until 'later.' Then, it was late at night, so I would put off practice. This helped me to say, "Yes, Tai Chi is important," and so I would practice daily.
A few Qigong moves are easier for beginners to learn and recall. Qigong helps new students to practice daily. Then class instruction connects with more detailed Tai Chi forms as the student progresses to higher levels. Social bonding and sharing are important along with pride of accomplishment. Gradually Tai Chi/Qigong may lead to improved focus and less frustration with everyday reality and overload. Calming and clearing the mind helps each day to be more centered along with improved health and well-being. Mood is better, work can be done with less effort.
Asking for help and receiving it are also important in catching up. Delegating tasks and sharing with family, friends, and co-workers may relieve the stress of too much to do. It is often more difficult to ask for help than to try to go on alone. Receiving help may have to be learned. We can all share with others, maximizing strengths and minimizing weaknesses for a more positive complementary harmony in all areas of our lives at work and play. This is the Yin/Yang dynamics in action, a balance of work and rest.
What are priorities? Sometimes, after thinking through a situation, we might even take a 180 degree turn and intuitively go for a different path based on positive unselfish intent. Explore possibilities of insights and ideas. Who knows where creative opportunities will arise?
What if we feel 'caught up'? Complacency? No! New projects and opportunities will open up. We can use a Tai Chi principle of advancing and retreating at the same time, opening to intuition and seeing fruition of goals gradually becoming reality without stepping on toes.
Tai Chi helps us to focus, work on our tasks toward completion, intent leading energy. Yet Tai Chi helps us to be flexible to receiving incoming possibilities with an open and grateful heart.
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Have you noticed that you only have to mention the word arthritis and the world and his mother says, "You ought to try…"
None of these people seem to realize that with over 100 types of arthritis you probably don't have the same type as Great Aunt Maud. Well, I started taking notes, and for what its worth here are a few of my favourite "treatments."
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WHATEVER YOU DO, DON'T TRY THESE AT HOME!
There is no scientific or medical proof behind any of these, and some could be downright dangerous.
First, the easy ones. Eat ripe black cherries, up to 15, three times a day.
Another: Take a packet of golden raisins, soak in a quart of gin, and take five raisins three times a day. Following on the alcoholic theme, take four raw, finely sliced BEETROOT????? and soak them in a quart of berry wine for one day. Drink one small glass before meals three times a day. And how's this one? Take one pint of fruit wine and add a heaping dessert spoon of each of the following: paprika, ground ginger, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg. Sip a teaspoonful gently before meals. Note: it might be advisable to have a gallon of iced water handy.
Fruit occurs in a fair few mixtures. Pineapple, which contains an ingredient called bromelain, is showing some promise in clinical trials. Cranberry juice has been suggested on more than one occasion. One way is to add a tablespoon of fruit pectin to a small glass of juice and drink it each morning. Alternatively dissolve 4 teaspoons of blackstrap molasses in a quart of cranberry juice and drink a glass a day. Neat lime juice had been recommended or a mix of equal parts of lemon and fresh carrot juice, one large spoonful daily.
Various herbal mixtures have been suggested. Take six ounces of sassafras root and steep in a fifth of whiskey for 24 hours and take one tablespoon three times a day before meals. Sassafras is, in fact, used in Spain as a treatment for rheumatic pain. Then there's a alfalfa, made into a tea by steeping one cup of seed in a half a gallon of water, for 20 minutes. Take a small glassful three times a day. Do not use if you have lupus (SLE).
The following recipe will either knock you out or have you on the toilet for the rest of the day. Take equal parts of black cohosh, gentian root, angelica, columbo, skullcap, valerian, rue (poisonous) and buckthorn bark and take one heaping teaspoon in a cup of boiling water. Drink three half cups a day.
Almost anyone with arthritis will have rubbed a sore joint to try and make it better. The variety of things you can rub in, or put on them, is amazingDissolve 100 aspirin tablets in a pint of alcohol are all arthritic people alcohol fiends? - and rub into the sore joints three times a day. Mix two parts of pure olive oil and one part kerosene as a liniment, and bathe the affected joints in it. Mix camphor, methyl salicylate, eucalyptus and menthol to make a rubbing mixture for aches and pains. This one seems to have some ingredients found in over-the- counter rubs.
Everyone knows that applying heat or cold (in the form of a packet of frozen peas usually) can help, rubbing the sore areas over with hot vinegar before bed would probably leave you smelling like a fish and chip shop. Suggestions I have also seen are to wrap the affected joint in cold cabbage leaves, or to rub it with nettles. However, I don't think I will go and roll in the nettle patch to take the pain away. There is some research going on into the nettle stings, and it seems that, like cream containing chilli extract, there is a benefit ,even if it is just by distracting you from the original discomfort.
Sex has been found in many places in my hunt for a cure. Unfortunately, it is not clear whether you should abstain, or indulge far more often. At least, in the more often camp there are serious benefits. People with arthritis need to keep warm, to do stretching and relaxing exercise and to increase the level of endorphins (nature's own painkiller). Sexual activity brings up the body temperature, provides gentle exercise, and leads to deep relaxation and releases endorphins!
Of all the suggestions I found while looking into this, my favourite is the following: -
Sunshine, sunbaths and deep breathing of fresh air are very important.
With that in mind, I'm off to book a holiday. And I won't tell anybody I've got arthritis.
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It was a pleasure to meet and work with you at the Tai Chi for
Arthritis workshop in May in Oakland. It was quite gratifying to be
able to keep up with the class while practicing the forms.
As we discussed at the workshop, in addition to arthritis, I have Type
2 diabetes. I have the tape Tai Chi for Diabetes, would want to be well
founded in my practice of Tai Chi for Arthritis first, before I learn
the forms for diabeted. I have observed however, that on the days that
I practice Tai Chi, my blood sugar is much easier to control. My twice
daily readings are usually within the normal range. Recent laboratory
exams indicate that my blood sugar is in good control with an hBc of 6.3
and all indicators for kidney function are well within normal range. My
physician at Kaiser is very pleased, as am I.
When the workshop ended in Oakland, I was giving Ted
(another participant from the workshop) a ride back to the
hotel and we had a misadventure. I did not see the light turn red, and
we were hit over the right rear wheel. The van rolled onto the driver's
side. Because of the arthritis in my back, I could not get out of the
van through the passengar side and had to be cut out of the van.
Despite all of the drama, neither of us were hurt. Ted is convinced
that we were so full of Chi after the weekend, that we were not even
sore from the accident. I praise God each day that we survived safe and
I hope that you have enjoyed your travels and arrive back in Australia
safe and sound.
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I just thought I'd update you on my Tai Chi for arthritis classes. I held a 10-week class this winter and worked through the National MS foundation of Connecticut. There was very good results. One of the MS students improved her relaxation and balance. She had a hard time in the beginning but became more physically able as time went on. There were about 7 students that started the class through the MS society. Two were sitting in chairs to do the form.
I did advertise in the paper and we did at least start a class of 25 people. Mostly for learning Tai Chi and not for arthritis. My wife Barbara teaches a number of classes for seniors and has taught them the 1st 12 postures. This may number around 50 people over 3 different classes. The seniors really like the form. I also decided to teach all 31 postures of Tai Chi for Arthritis at Quinnipiac University. We are just finishing the last movements i.e. Leisurely Tying Coat, Push etc. This worked out very well. I have about 28 students over 2 classes. This Tai Chi class is for college credit.
I demonstrated your form at World Tai Chi Day in Meriden and then again at Harkness Park in Waterford CT where I also ran a workshop on Tai Chi for arthritis. We had a very cold day so numbers were down for WTCD but there were still quite a few in attendance. I will attend your next class for the last movements when you are here in CT, USA again.
I hope your year is going well.
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Introduction: Don't wait until you're middle-aged to take up Tai Chi, warns a 55-year-old man who learned this lesson late, but not too late.
About four years ago, I noticed the first signs of arthritis in my left hip, the left side of my neck and my right hand. Two years ago I took up lawn bowling and about eight months ago I started attending weekly Tai Chi for Arthritis classes.
Practice of Tai Chi has strengthened my leg muscles, which helped greatly in bowling. And between Tai Chi and bowling, I now find it unnecessary to use the various heat treatment devices on which I once depended for relief from discomfort in hip, neck and hand.
I cannot emphasize too strongly that my one hour, once a week lesson was not on it's own sufficient to bring about this improvement. I practice the warm-up exercises and the 12 movements described and illustrated in Dr Lam's video for half an hour every morning without fail as soon as I get up (even in a hotel room during a recent visit to Sydney), and I intend to continue to do this indefinitely.
I am a Singapore-born Chinese, aged 55, although I have lived in Australia for 27 years. I remember as a child wondering about the groups of usually elderly people seen in the early morning or in the evening doing a sort of slow-motion ballet dance under the trees in Singapore's parks. Now that I have learned a little about the principles and practice of Tai Chi, I firmly believe that people should not wait for middle age and signs of arthritis. "Prevention is better than cure." It is much easier to prevent something happening than to cure it after it has happened. Tai Chi is also a wonderful way to relax both mind and body, and the weekly get-together is a pleasant social occasion.
I have fibromyalgia, a condition that affects the muscles and nervous system. I also have an old back injury. Because of these conditions, I must be very careful how I exercise, as too much or the wrong kind can cause setbacks. For example, I've had to drop out of many exercise classes including a Yang style Tai Chi class.
I took my first Tai Chi for Arthritis class a year and a half ago and was delighted to discover that Dr. Lam's program worked for me. I could keep up with the weekly classes and didn't have flare-ups.
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The Tai Chi movements improved my muscle strength and balance. They gave me more energy and helped to calm my overly sensitive nervous system. I firmly believe this form of Tai Chi is helping to rid my body of toxins, something victims of fibromyalgia have difficulty with.
When I started the Tai Chi for Arthritis program, a specialized massage therapist I have worked with for seven years was skeptical. . Now, she is so impressed with my progress as far as muscle tone and healing capabilities that she told me she never wants me to stop.
I have taken Dr.Lam's instructor training course and am now a certified Tai Chi for Arthritis instructor. Currently, I assist my teacher but plan on teaching my own classes this year. As I continue to learn and become stronger, I look forward to trying Yang style Tai Chi again and also Sun style 73. Meanwhile, I have become an avid fan of Tai Chi for Arthritis. It has just the right amount of challenge to strengthen, yet is gentle enough not to cause harm.
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