birthday gift from UKDr Lam Birthday Gift Registry

From Dr Lam: My friends and colleagues, Nuala, Veronica, Roberto, Amanda, Kent, Anne, Colin, Joe, Janice, Pam and Morag from Europe gave me this for my 70 birthday with tai chi poses forming 70.

I would love to receive your gift too: tell me about how you empower yourself and others to improve health and wellness and send your story to me via Your gift will be published on this page. The gift of health is the best gift to me. If you do, please provide if possible: your name; country; the people you have helped, include an example how the quality of life been changed, and how you feel about that. Attach a photo if possible and limit to 150 words or less. Sending it to me means that you give me permission to edit if necessary, to publish online and all people in your photo must give their permission for the same. 


January 2018presenting photo 220

At the 20th anniversary workshop in Sydney, Richard Link from Memphis, USA presented a photos of the USAF “Thunderbirds” Aerial Demonstration team with signatures of all the pilots and commanders. In case you don’t know Richard is the retired flight chief at the Thunderbirds.  He has empowered many people using the Tai Chi for Health programs especially the transplant patients and kids. Bravo Richard!

Thanks Richard for your good wishes and the incredible effort to bring me this gift, and Mark Coffindaffer for helping to make it happen! photo thunderbird

Paul Lam                            




January 2018

(Husband and Wife Marlena and Ed begin the New Year with their testimonies, see their photo below)

Dear Dr. Lam,

Several years ago, I developed a severe ear infection. Our physician prescribed antibiotics. Two weeks later, the pain in my ear persisted. Another ten days of antibiotics, and then yet another.

Three days into taking the third round of antibiotics, I awakened with sudden hearing loss in my right ear and difficulty walking due to imbalance.

After seeing numerous physicians with no help, we sent the electronic medical records related to my ear to a Harvard-trained ENT (Ear Nose and Throat) specialist in Portland, Oregon. After reviewing the records, his assistant called to make an appointment.

When I walked into his office, Dr. Anh looked up from his computer, his eyebrows arched. “You walk without a cane or walker?” he asked. He went on to explain that according to my medical records, 60 percent of my hearing and balancing mechanisms were gone in my right inner ear. “Probably due to ototoxicity,” he said, “which quite simply means ear poisoning (oto = ear, toxicity = poisoning), resulting from exposure to antibiotics that damage the inner ear.”

“So you see, you have no business walking without a cane, and it’s likely to degenerate further over time. You’ll probably end up in a wheelchair,” he concluded, shaking his head in disbelief. “And unfortunately, at present there are no treatments that can reverse the damage.”

I tilted the left side of my head slightly toward him, something I regularly do to hear better out of my one good ear. “I don’t hear so well since the infection and the drugs,” I said. “But I’m very fortunate that I practice tai chi every day, and I fully intend to walk without a cane until the day I die. Dr. Paul Lam’s tai chi programs will allow me to do that,” I said.

In fact, my balance problems have not worsened, as expected. Exactly the opposite. My balance gets better all the time.

Thank you for helping me walk without a cane, Dr. Lam, and I wish you a very happy birthday!

Marlena Fiol
January 2018, Tucson, AZ  Marlena and Ed

Dear Dr. Lam,

A few years ago I began to experience numbness in a toe on my left foot. I attributed it to clinching up my feet on our living room carpet while playing long, intense games of Super Mario with our grandsons. My solution was simple—sit down while playing to take the weight off my clinched toes. 

Instead of getting better, the numb, stinging sensation spread throughout the bottom of both feet. During my annual physical, I asked our physician about the discomfort. In response, he first checked my blood tests for diabetes. Finding none, he next stuck a sharp medical instrument into the soles of my feet. I felt nothing and suggested he might not be pushing hard enough. His response to my challenge was to stick the same sharp instrument into my ankle and that definitely got my attention along with a loud complaint. His diagnosis—you have neuropathy in both feet—that is damage to your peripheral nerves, which often causes weakness, numbness and pain. It may well get worse over time. His recommendation was an anti-inflammatory solution (Pennsaid), and later when things got worse as pain began shooting up my legs, a prescription for Gabapentin, a drug that numbs the discomfort and brain beautifully.

Not long after that, I mentioned my neuropathy to Dr. Lam. His suggestion will not come as a surprise: Practice daily tai chi. I took his advice. While my feet are not totally healed, the remaining tingling I experience lets me know clearly that my feet are in contact with the floor.

Thanks largely to my daily practice of Paul Lam’s tai chi programs, the neuropathy in my feet is actually improving rather than deteriorating.

Thank you and happy birthday!

Ed O’Connor, January 2018, Tucson, AZ


Dear Dr Lam
Thank you so much for your Best Wishes and Season’s Greetings e mail.
I wish the same to you and all of your Tai Chi family.
You have brought so much joy and inspiration and positivity to so many, myself included, with your wonderful Tai Chi exercises.
These exercises bring balance and harmony to the mind, body and spirit and are so uplifting.
THANK YOU for being our inspiration.
With love and best wishes
Marcia                                      *******************

December 30 2017

Dear Dr. Lam,

For a few years I had been looking for exercises that could help me maintain agility and strength. The Pilates and Yoga routines I had been doing were making my joint pain worse. When Marlena Fiol and Ed O’Connor introduced me to Tai Chi for Arthritis, I was thrilled. They patiently instructed a group of us in the principles and forms of TCA. It was just what I needed. Bringing awareness to moving slowly and smoothly, breathing from the abdomen, not just during practice, but throughout the day, was so helpful. I could practice the different forms without causing stress and pain in my bones and joints. Consciously shifting my weight and using core strength to find balance are key elements that have helped to maintain my Practice.

I personally love the serenity of Tai Chi for Arthritis – there is no competition or pressure to “get it right quickly”. The peaceful, calming nature of TCA is beneficial as well. I lean toward an anxious disposition at times and TCA brings a sense of peace and harmony. It has also brought a wonderful and surprising new bond with my husband of 40 years. We have recently retired and I was looking for something we could do together that would benefit our relationship and our health. Tai Chi for Arthritis has certainly fit the bill!

Happy Birthday and thank you for all you have done to help others.

Lorna Boschmann, Tucson, AZ


December 30, 2017

Dear Dr. Lam,

Happy Birthday to you!! I’m also sending a big “Thank You” to you for sharing your knowledge and teaching skills with so many, but especially with my teachers Marlena Fiol and Ed O’Connor!

While hiking along a beautiful sea-cliff trail in Ireland, I became so distracted by the stunning view that I tripped and fell into a little rut in the path. Though it didn’t seem like a bad fall, I tore an MCL and the meniscus in my knee. The recovery was long and required sitting with my knee elevated. After several months of immobility, the arthritis in my lower back caused almost as much pain as the knee injury.

As it often happens in our universe, when one needs something it appears. And so it did! Marlena and Ed sent out a notice that they were going to start teaching a tai chi class. By the time the class started, I had recovered enough to participate. I had doubts that I could continue, thinking that it might cause more pain.

After six weeks of tai chi sessions, I not only had much less pain in my knee area, but the pain from the arthritis in my back (which radiated out into my hips) had almost completely disappeared. I also felt considerably more centered mentally. With improved mental and physical health, I had both the desire and strength to begin hiking again.

I am so grateful to have had your instruction both on your CD and through Ed and Marlena. I am 69 years old and am trying to age with a little grace. Continued practice will no doubt serve me well in this process.

Janice Lyon, Tucson, AZ


December 12, 2017

Dear Dr. Lam,

As students following your instructional program on Tai Chi for Arthritis, we wish to express our thanks for your program and to let you know how much we appreciate our instructor, Betsy Walker.

Betsy has been instrumental in building a following of students in our “active 55-plus” community of Four Seasons in Dumfries, Virginia.  Betsy is devoted to helping people learn and experience the benefits of Tai Chi for Arthritis.  She has been instructing here at Four Seasons since March 2017. She now has two different levels of instruction: Tai Chi for Arthritis I and Tai Chi for Arthritis II, with about 20 consistent students and more people showing interest. A Tai Chi for Beginners class will be added in 2018.   

All of her students agree that she is an outstanding instructor. She has the patience and willingness to help us older folks learn the moves even when we forget and require follow-up, individual help.

It has been a rewarding experience learning Tai Chi for Arthritis, both mentally and physically.  We are thankful for your course and for Betsy Walker as our instructor.Wishing you the best,

Four Seasons Students of Tai Chi for Arthritis










Happy Birthday, Paul,

Every Sunday morning from May through September we have offered free tai chi and yoga classes outside on the Clifton Plaza in Cincinnati. On the very last Sunday, a doctor from China came to the tai chi class. I told her about your autobiography and she said she too grew up during the cultural revolution. She enjoyed the tai chi class and said she was planning to read the book.
Michael                                      *************

Dear Dr. Lam, I wish you the best of birthdays. I hope you realize that you have brought heath and well being to millions of us who would love to thank you in person some day.

Last spring a dear friend of mine was tragically killed when a man veered across the highway and hit him head on, both going nearly 70 MPH. Bob and I knew each other for 55 years. We refereed ice hockey together in the Colorado area and we both went on to be leaders in the ice hockey world around Denver, teaching referees, heading the various organizations and going on to be members of the off-ice crew of officials at the NHL Colorado Avalanche.

Bob was killed on a Friday evening and I found out about it around 10:00 PM. Saturday was my scheduled weekend to become certified teaching Tai Chi for Diabetes with Bill Picket. The 60 mile trip to class early Saturday morning was fraught with worry and dread, not really the mind set for a great class.

Saturday went by very well and Sunday it was like I was with family, a family of strangers but all sharing a special spirit. I had to explain my feelings before we left on Sunday afternoon for home how great it was to be with so many great people and how their Chi had helped me through the emotional weekend. I think I got all of us crying before finishing but the drive home was with a car full of great feelings and wonderful support.

I can’t thank you enough for the introduction into this great family. I am pleased immensely to share your family and the health it has provided. Keep up the great work and good health for years to come. Happy birthday!

Tom Fletcher

1. Dr Lam’s YouTube Videos

Dr Lam offering the gift of tai chi for health

Dr Lam offering the gift of tai chi for health

From Dr Lam: I have published over 100 YouTube clips, from free tai chi lessons, answer enquiries and medical studies to tai chi and life style topics. I intended to post useful information to you without any pay advertisement. My clips have 7,683,531 hits so far. They are:

For more videos please go to YouTube or Google and search for Dr Paul Lam and your topic. Feel free to contact me at 

How Can I Learn a Tai Chi for Health Program?

How Can I Learn a Tai Chi for Health Program?

Millions of people around the world have enjoyed learning Dr Lam’s Tai Chi for Health pr2 Group photo, St Louis 2014 NLograms, and gained better health and quality of life as a result. His programs are easy-to-learn and proven by medical studies to improve health and wellness. A good way to learn one of these programs is to follow 3 steps below.

A: Choose one program that suits you best from the list below, if you are spoiled for choice, try either 1 or 2. You can click on the title for an introduction; most of them have a full one hour first FREE lesson:
Beginners DVD Cover 220v2

  1. Tai Chi for Beginners – a great start with the Six Easy Steps, anyone can learn this.
  2. Tai Chi for Arthritis  (also known as Tai Chi for Fall Prevention) – if you prefer a gentle start, have arthritis or other chronic conditions. This program is recommended by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( for preventing falls, it is suitable for almost anyone with or without arthritis.
  3. Tai Chi for Energy  – if you prefer a more challenging and faster-paced program.
  4. Tai Chi for Rehabilitation – an enjoyable way to aid recovery from major surgery, illness or just daily stress.
  5. Tai Chi for Diabetes – to improve the control of diabetes and minimize complications.
  6. Tai Chi for Osteoporosis – to strengthen bones and improve balance thereby reducing falls.
  7. Tai Chi @ Work – tailored to your working environment to relieve stress.tca
  8. Tai Chi 4 Kidz – a fun program to improve concentration and coordination.

B: You can learn from Dr Lam’s instructional DVD.  You will find it is almost as though you are attending Dr Lam’s class and he can read your mind and know what you need next! Be sure to set up a regular time to practice daily. Soon you will gain health benefits and enjoyment. Better still, you can go to the Dr Paul Lam Tai Chi for Health Institute’s website to find a class conducted by one of TCHI Board certified instructors, or come to one of Dr Lam’s workshops and meet him in person.

A very good way is to use both his DVD and attend a suitable tai chi class.

C: Continue to practice regularly, reach out to tai chi enthusiasts around you and practice with them. If you have not done that yet, find an instructor who resonates with you. Enjoy your journey to health and wellness. TCE DVD Cover

Visit the Tai Chi for Health Institute for access to thousands of TCHI Board certified instructors globally, subscribe to Dr Lam’s Newsletter for more information.

For the Tai Chi for Beginners and Arthritis programs there are downloadable lessons available.

You can also find tai chi books, many instructional DVDs, tai chi music and other material at Tai Chi Productions, created by Dr Lam for one single purpose – to improve your health and wellness. 

Related Articles:

Born Strong – Dr Paul Lam’s Memoir



Read reviews and sample chapters at Amazon. The ebook is also available. Click here to purchase from Tai Chi Productions. 

Watch an introductory Video Clip from Dr Lam 


letting bird go tai chi post

Born in Vietnam, Bon Trong—meaning “born strong”—was only ten months old when he was left with his grandmother in China. Little did anyone know that soon thereafter, the Communist Party under Mao Zedong would overtake China. For sixteen years, Bon Trong suffered abuse and terror from the Communist rule and narrowly escaped death from starvation during Mao’s disastrous Great Famine, when seventy millions did not. 
When Bon Trong was sixteen he escaped to Hong Kong, where he was distressed by the shock of the new culture and his heart-wrenching separation from his aunt. However, he was determined to win approval from his parents, from his family, but most of all, from himself.
Later in Australia he finally experienced freedom for the first time in his life. Paul, as he was now known, chose the path of healing early on when he decided to become a doctor. He came to realize how much he loved medicine, and it became clear his calling was to heal
The years of starvation and malnutrition had left their mark with disabling arthritis since his teen.  He began studying tai chi with his father-in-law hoping to ease his painful arthritis. Moved by the art he became an avid learner and expert in tai chi. Feeling he could help others, he started teaching others. From classes locally to workshops to lectures globally to creating DVDs to writing books.  Dr Paul Lam has dedicated his life to spreading the health benefits of tai chi around the world. He has changed the lives of millions of people who seek to connect their mind, body, and spirit through tai chi, fulfilling his destiny to become a true healer. 

Reviews by (click the name to see review):swimming with kids

  • Peter Wayne, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and author of the Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi
  • Bill Douglas, Founder of World Tai Chi & Qigong Day, 2009 Inductee to the Internal Arts Hall of Fame, and author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to T’ai Chi & Qigong” 
  • Andy Choo PhD FAA., Professor of biomedical genetics, University of Melbourne and Murdoch Childrens Research Institute; Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science; Tai Chi teacher and researcher
  • Bob Casey, USA, author, poet, and student of tai chi
  • Pam Kircher, USA, retired Master Trainer and author of “Love is the Link”
  • Raymond Lau, Singapore, Consultant Rheumatologist and Professor, Master Trainer, Chair of TCHI
  • 37 readers reviews on 10th July 2015

“…Dr. Lam, perhaps more than anyone else on the planet, has been a force in expanding Tai Chi and Qigong into modern healthcare at all levels–has enabled modern healthcare to un-grip from its past of discounting Eastern wisdom, and reform itself into something new and larger, where Eastern and Western wisdom can join hands for the betterment of society. In some ways, all Tai Chi teacher’s working in hospitals are riding on the shoulders of Paul’s early work…In his book, Dr. Lam talks about how he resisted naming his school after himself, because he didn’t want it to be a cult of personality, but a way to expand Tai Chi knowledge into the world, enabling it to be owned by many. Our work organizing World Tai Chi Day events worldwide, which has included the participation of Paul and many teachers Paul Lam trained, seeks to follow Dr. Lam’s vision, empowering the entire world to see Tai Chi as “their thing” and even further expanding these amazing treasures from Chinese culture throughout the world.beach

Paul Lam’s amazing story about how Tai Chi healed him from a hard life of challenges, and enabled him to flower into an internationally recognized Tai Chi expert and trainer whose work has literally helped millions directly or indirectly, is a microcosmic example of what is possible for the world. We can evolve from our past, and blossom into something beautiful and extraordinary–just as Paul Lam has done with his amazing life. — Bill Douglas, Founder of World Tai Chi & Qigong Day, 2009 Inductee to the Internal Arts Hall of Fame, and author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to T’ai Chi & Qigong”

“This is the story of . . . a man who has to rise above the chasm of death and impossible odds to turn the centuries-old esoteric Oriental art of Tai Chi into a Western-science-and-medicine-based system of healthcare that has deeply touched the lives of millions. It is a fable of humility, struggle, and heartbreak, but above all, of selfless sacrifice, unconditional love, staunch courage, and unwavering tenacity. An inspirational read . . .”— Andy Choo PhD FAA., Professor of biomedical genetics, University of Melbourne and Murdoch Childrens Research Institute; Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science; Tai Chi teacher and researcherpaul chen

“An inspiring and engaging personal story of healing and Tai Chi, written by a physician and Tai Chi master leading the integration of Tai Chi into healthcare worldwide.” — Peter Wayne, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and author of the Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi
“Born Strong will first appeal to Dr. Lam’s million plus tai chi students whom he or his world-network of instructors have taught. But over time, the book will attract a much broader audience. Anyone who has faced adversity will find comfort through reading it. Dr. Lam weaves a story regarding the power of the indomitable human spirit striving and succeeding in overcoming what appear as insurmountable obstacles. Poverty, starvation, murderous regimes, debilitating health issues, severe bullying, and vast cultural differences are just a few in a litany of challenges faced and met. An added bonus is that he provides readers with suggested ideas and skill sets that will allow them to cope with their personal challenges.


Ultimately, the book is really a love story for his aunt who sacrificed much for her nephew to succeed; his abiding love for family, both immediate and extended; and his passion for tai chi, a life-changing way of life. This story of love and excitement for life will touch readers to the very core of their being.” –  Bob Casey, USA, author, poet, and student of tai chi
Faced with difficult obstacles throughout his life, Dr. Lam met each challenge with determination, courage, and hope.  That combination brought him from starvation as a child in Maoist China to the life of a family doctor in Australia and the development of the Tai Chi for Health programs that have brought greater health to millions throughout the world. This riveting story inspires each of us to embrace our lives and ask, “what more might I do to fulfill my life’s purpose?” – Dr Pam Kircher, USA, retired Master Trainer and author of “Love is the Link”
“Thank you very much, Dr Lam. It is a very good book. It has captured the human spirit of resilience and grit, and the emotions were subtly and accurately portrayed. I believe the universal truth is this: unconditional love can embrace and transform all that seem  unlovable or insurmountable for the better.” – Raymond Lau, Singapore, Consultant Rheumatologist and Professor, Master Trainer, Chair of TCHI

A reader’s reaction, by Eileen Bandcroft

I received the signed copy of “Born Strong” yesterday.  I read it in one sitting!! I found it incredibly inspiring and deeply, deeply moving partly I suspect because, like your beautiful Aunt, I too raised an abandoned child, in much less difficult conditions,but nevertheless when you spoke of your Aunt I had a deep sense of the love she felt for you just as I do for my granddaughter who I have raised since the age of six when her Mum died and her Dad abandoned her.  She was my reason for living at that time and since then has been the jewel in the crown of my life.  Unconditional love is unconditional love whatever the circumstances and my belief is that special children l

vic ws dtca5

ike you  are sent to teach those of us who are privileged to raise you, many lessons not least of all the “gifts of the darkness” and also that the flame of hope is always there deep within us if we have the courage to believe.

I am so grateful that ACC chose Tai Chi for Health to be their falls prevention modality as without that happening there is no way I would be part of the tai chi family and have the gift of teaching tai chi in my life and to you I am grateful for your courage and determination to bring Tai Chi for Health to the World.

Congratulations on the wonderful book.  I hope it sells hugely worldwide so that people can be touched and inspired in the way that I have been.

Eileen Bandcroft, Instructor, Pukekohe, New Zealand

You can read more reviews on Amazon, and place your own review there.



Extract 1

“Certainly Chairman Mao couldn’t hear the rumbling in my stomach, and he must not have known that someone stole our rice.  Otherwise he would have come to our rescue.  I had, after all, squeezed my eyes tight and prayed – his kind face in my mind’s eye, asking him for an overflowing bowl of rice and not the mere handful of tiny grains Aunt always made into congee.  But even the thin, tasteless porridge seemed like a royal feast now that our ration had been stolen a full five days before we would receive more rice.
Once verdant and lush, the land around us stood consumed.  The sky no longer home to birds, the rice paddies and river no longer a haven for the small fish I once walked past, and the land no longer bursting forth with vegetation. small gp
By the third day without food, my stomach stopped rumbling, and I heard only silence as my spirit slipped from my body and began to float.”

Extract 2: My Recipe for Health

I always enjoy finding all the factors of a problem and creating a formula to solve it.  I applied it to understanding how the body and mind function, and working out ways to make them work better. I cherished finding the right therapy to solve each individual’s health challenge, and in tai chi I love to find the most effective way to develop and enjoy the art. 
Ultimately, I love to find a solution to empower people for better health and wellness.  I talk to my patients, friends and tai chi colleagues and participants of my workshops about this topic frequently. Here is a recipe for health that I have found it works for me and many of the people I have interacted with. Most of these are woven into this book.


The Ingredients:

  • Positivity
  • Responsibility
  • Activity
  • Engagement
  • Interaction


I try to focus on the positive or bright side, though it is human nature to focus on the negative.  That can be helpful in extreme circumstances – it makes us work harder in case of disaster.  In normal times, however, negativity can adversely affect our health, thinking and relationships.  By looking for the best qualities in people I enhance my relationship with them.  Everyone likes to be recognised, which help them to be more confident and more effective and their attitude becomes more positive towards me – a win-win situation. 


Whenever I feel down I remind myself to “song” my joints – a tai chi state of gently loosening the joints, thus strengthen the body and induce relaxation, and to stand tall.  I may not be feeling great, but that simple change in posture tricks my mind into feeling less stressed, and thinking more upright.

Even at really bad times, being sad does not make matters any better. I find the psychologists were helpful when they said: “if you cannot be happy, pretend to be, and soon you would!” Even if I cannot be happy, I would be better off than focusing at sadness.


2.   Responsibility

I realised in my twenties that I needed to take responsibility for my own health.  With crippling arthritis I could have relied entirely on drugs to keep me relatively pain free.  It took dedication to establish a major improvement through tai chi, but on the way I learned that keeping physical and mental balance in my life was the best way to cope with the condition, as well as most matters in my life. 

As I develop, I take more responsibility for my actions.  Whenever something goes wrong, I make a great effort not to blame the circumstances and other people, not even the weather! Blaming anything including myself does not help me to get to a better place, it is a waste of time; it might sooth my insecurity for a little while but does not help it at all. I find it more helpful to focus on analysing the situation rationally, what was done well and what can be improved. Very importantly to develop inner strength which would reduce insecurity.


I also learned to be responsible for my reaction to other’s actions. For example, when someone makes a racially discriminative remark, I hold my anger and make a great effort to keep my mind balanced. If that person means to upset me and if I become angry, he or she controls me. If it was an innocent mistake, I would have got upset for nothing, worse still, an angry reaction would harm my relationship with that person. It is my responsibility to stay calm and find the most rational way to deal with the situation ….   (More in the book)

Links to Free Tai Chi Lessons– be sure to check with your health professional before you start

  • If you are looking for the best exercise for the body and mind in 15 minuste; try Tai Chi for Beginners 
  • Or you something more challenging for the same reason; try Tai Chi for Energy
  • If you are a person with arthritis, fibromyalgia, MS, stroke or most other chronic conditions; try Tai Chi for Arthritis

For more Free Tai Chi lessons please visit Dr Lam’s instructional DVD and books.

Related Article:

Finding Qi in High Places on the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu

© Copyrights 2015 Dr Paul Lam. All rights reserved, you are welcome to share the link of this article with your friends.

Finding the qi (light) on the Inca Trail


Mark Hoyle is a friend and an instructor at my tai chi school.  Born with 5% vision, Mark has never let it interfere with living a full and adventurous life.  He loves visiting the wonders of the world, so when he offered me a chance to travel with him to Machu Picchu I jumped at it, even though I knew nothing about it.


After a series of busy and exciting workshops in the USA, I was looking forward to a long walk among nature in the mountains. Five days of beautiful views and fresh air would be heavenly. I did learn something about Machu Picchu being one of the Seven Wonders of the World, but still nothing about the Inca Trail.


I love walking. When I arrived in Stockholm for the first time at 8am after flying for 30 hours, struck by the beauty of the city, I dropped my luggage at the hotel and walked until 10 pm. I thought the Inca Trail would be a piece of cake.


The first day I realized the cake was full of rocks, the entire Trail was solid granite. It is 35 km long, these rocks were cut without any metal tool, positioned so perfectly that none ever slip. It was an unimaginable task in 1400 AD.

A great start

We started really well

I could not focus on the amazing Trail in front of me. The air in my lungs seems to disappear at high altitude and I ran out of breath too quickly. It is hard to slow down when I am used to take stairs two at a time. I have had arthritis since my early teens due to chronic malnutrition during the Great Famine where I grew up in China. Tai chi has transformed my health especially improving my arthritis, but my knees with 55 years history of arthritis did not like constant pounding on rocks.


I was exhausted by the end of day one. The Trail was magnificent, but saw none of that as I struggled to keep up with the group. We were late because of me. Most other trackers we met were much younger than me, and they were a pretty athletic looking lot too.


Rocks, rocks and more rocks

Sharing a tent with Mark was a different experience from any hotel rooms that I am so accustomed to. At 2 am, I needed a bathroom visit. I did not use a flash light so as not to disturb Mark. After 20 minutes of fumbling with the double zips on the tent in the dark, I stuck my head out and was shocked to meet eye to eye by moonlight three gigantic donkeys and a barking dog. Fortunately they were much more interested in the grass than me as I took the long walk to the dirty and smelly toilet.


They warned us that the second day the hardest – a full 8 hour day of trekking up to 3800 m! They were right, the first day was a piece of real cake compared to this! I asked our guide what would happen in the event of a medical emergency. What if someone fell and hurt themselves badly, or had a heart attack? Russell, our friendly guide sidestepped my questions quite skilfully. Then I realised there probably wasn’t much they can do! The fear of trekking in darkness urged me on; I extended and over extended my physical ability despite my restricted lungs! Pushing myself passed my comfort zone led me to strain my left knee resulted in more pain. Russell stayed with me to keep an eye on me; we were late again, barely making it before the night fell.


Russell told us the third day would be much easier. By then I had muscular pain all over, both knee joints were agony with mixed arthritic and injury pain, my body was beyond exhaustion. Was I glad it was going to be an easier day! But it rained. I found out my ski jacket (I used to ski regularly) was not waterproof in heavy conditions. All areas outside the Poncho became wet and cold, my hands became numb. That was a mixed blessing because the numbness also stopped the burning pain from my allergic reaction to the insect spray! Oh yes, those insects were tough.


The rain not only made the Trail much more challenging, it added weight to the porters’ luggage so we had to defer our lunch. Instead of lunch at 12, which means a well deserved rest, we had to press on. It was getting more challenging every minute; I was in pain and exhausted, and breathing with difficulty! I began to think of giving up.


Walking through the cave was part of the trail.

Something deep inside me stirred. It was the shadow of my qi (inner life energy). I normally feel well and fit with a feeling of qi flowing like water in the river when I walk. Like a shadow in the water that I could not quite touch my scattered qi. but I knew it was there and I dug deep down it. My inner voice told me: “The key to cultivate qi is the tai chi principles”. I started working on slowing down, moving smoothly, and keeping the flow. As the qi became more reachable, I could focus on my weight transference – touching down lightly to minimise my knee pain, and keeping an upright posture gave me more positive spirit. I unfastened my chest buckle of my back pack to ease the restriction on my chest muscles. I found out that taking more rest before I became exhausted, shortened the recovery time and my speed actually improved. Fortunately, like the many times we filmed our outdoor tai chi demonstrations, the rain stopped at the critical time. My qi gathered and helped me to keep going. Slowly and steadily we arrived at the lunch site by 3 pm.


After lunch, Russell told us, to my surprise, that we would camp there – we have done the day’s work! And he said that we were very close to a famous ruin called Qunchamarka. Mark suggested that we went there to film tai chi.


I love filming in great mountains and rivers where the nature’s qi enhances our tai chi powerfully. That was an offer I couldn’t refuse, so we took our tripods, cameras and video cameras and off we went. My body was not in good shape and my mountain boots were heavy. I did not know how I managed to complete the Tai Chi for Arthritis set, but it would be one of the worst ones. Click here for a YouTube clip of this.

another fort from rocks

A great place for tai chi

I recalled my struggle and the tai chi principles came to my rescue. So I controlled my movements, checked my body structure with posture and good weight transference for the next set. As I gained better control of my movement and body, I was able to ‘Jing’ my mind – focus at being present and be serene and mindful. I could sink my qi to the dan tian using my dan tian breathing method. I ‘song’ – loosening and gentle stretch my joints from within, going deeper into the tai chi principles give me more power. I felt the qi return and the altitude had less effect on me. My pain was more tolerable. My tai chi was coming back!


As my mind and body became better connected I felt the energy of this ancient fort. Over the most magnificent mountain, as though the “spirit of the Incas” joined me, my tai chi took in that energy, I felt the power of my tai chi like I had never felt before. That was the most amazing experience!


That was the turning point, I filmed several sets with Mark and myself. By the time we were finished it was nearly dark.


The next day I felt the difference from the minute I woke up, my qi was flowing, lungs less restricted, knees less painful. I felt the freshness and the power of the mountain. I saw the flora, different orchids and the incredible path made with rocks. I fully enjoyed the movement, and for a change was leading the troop most of the time. We stopped again at Fort Intipata to film more tai chi. Click here for the next clip. It was quite amazing that the rain stopped again during the filming. Despite the stop we arrived at the next destination early!


Feeling energised here!

I often compare my tai chi journey to climbing a mountain. Now I really appreciate climbing the mountains!! And when you think you have reached the top, beyond the crest is another peak. The views are indescribably magnificent, definitely worth the effort. Of course the best is the journey – how to find your qi especially when it was in shadow! If you want to follow us walking the Inca Trail, do your research, train for it and be prepared!


The last day was rewarded by the splendid Machu Picchu. One cannot imagine the work – how did they carved such huge stones that fit into each other almost seamlessly and made magnificent buildings without mortar and without chisel and metal back then!?


Machu Picchu is the icon of the Inca civilization. Built in 1450, it is a huge structure that is made from hundreds and thousands of rocks. There are over 600 terraces and hundreds of buildings. It is 2438m above sea level with magnificent extensive rock structures. Hundreds of thousands of rocks fit together with impossible precision without mortar. There are even fountains with aqueducts within the rocks.


This is a video by me, and another from YouTube which shows how majestic Machu Picchu is.


There are several huge courtyards

view from down under in Machu Picchu

Llamas lived on these high places

One room in Machu Picchu

One of the rooms

How did the ancient Incas build the Trail and Machu Picchu? I suspect they knew the way of qi!


We are offering something useful

Among the clouds

Right amoung the clouds

The Growing of Tai Chi for Health Institute and Communities

Applying Tai Chi principles to promote the growth of the Tai Chi for Health program by Dr Raymond Lau

It has being said the heart of the matter is often the matter of the heart, and the best way to get to the matter of the heart is to ask the “why” question.  It is important that we answer the “why” question first, before we consider the “what” and “how” questions, because the “what” and “how” questions relate more to the mind.  Conventional wisdom tells us that the heart must first be convicted, before the mind can be aligned, so that the action can be consistent. 
dr lau
In the same vein, the Tai Chi for Health Institute (TCHI) need also to ask the question “why do we exist” before we ask “what must we do and how can we grow”.  This is a question of our purpose and vision.  In this regard, I believe we have an excellent answer.  The purpose of TCHI is to empower people to improve their health and wellness and the vision is making Tai Chi for Health accessible to everyone for health and wellness.  This is a very laudable purpose and vision indeed, for all of us in TCHI have a common passion to see Tai Chi for health being promoted to all people, so that they can benefit in health and wellness.

In the World Health Organisation definition, there are six dimensions to health and wellness.  They are:
1. Social- having positive relationships
2. Intellectual- acquiring knowledge and skills
3. Physical- caring for one’s health
4. Vocational- finding fulfilment through work and volunteerism
5. Emotional- managing and expressing feelings
6. Spiritual- appreciating life, having valuesIndeed, a person can only be truly well if all six dimensions of health and wellness are healthy.
How then can we achieve good health in all six dimensions?  My proposition is that we can actually achieve this by unlocking the potential of the Tai Chi for Health program in the follow ways:1. Social- practicing and learning Tai Chi together build positive relationships
2. Intellectual- learning Tai Chi is acquiring knowledge and skills, the limitless depth of Tai Chi also means that we need life long learning to gain mastery
3. Physical- Tai Chi for health program has been proven to improve one’s health
4. Vocational- volunteering to teach Tai Chi classes brings fulfillment through work and volunteerism
5. Emotional- Tai Chi helps us make friends and calm our emotion and mind, so that we can manage and express our feelings to one another better
6. Spiritual- Tai Chi for health program certainly helps us to appreciate life more, and have values that are more selfless

The keys to unlock this tremendous potential lie in our purpose and vision as well: to empower people to improve health and wellness by making Tai Chi for Health accessible for everyone. 

How then can we empower people and make Tai Chi for Health accessible for all?  As much as the magic of Tai Chi lies in the Tai Chi principles, I believe the magic of the growth of Tai Chi for Health (TCH) program will depend on the Tai Chi principles as well.

Tai Chi movement should be slow, continuous and smooth.  In addition, the movement should also be against gentle resistance.  Translated into growing the TCH program, our efforts should be slow, continuous and smooth.  In change management of a complex adaptive system, speed in execution may not always be helpful.  Oftentimes, slow deliberate actions are more helpful than fast but meaningless activities.  Persistence and perseverance are also required in order for our efforts to be continuous.  We must not be afraid to fail and try again, to fail and try yet again, learning from our mistakes as we press on to our purpose and vision.Our actions should also be smooth, sensitive to the culture and context of the situations that we are operating in.  Gentle resistance can be translated into constructive conflict, a necessary ingredient for an organization that is eager to learn from one another, and to maximize the engagement and potential of each and every individual member.2 Group photo, St Louis 2014 NL

In Tai Chi, the posture should be upright and the weight transfer should be deliberate, and balance, when moving forward or backward.  Translated into growing the TCH program, we ought to be upright in our character and values, and also demonstrate empathy in our relationship building.  Be careful to listen to one another before we give appropriate comments or advices.  Be sensitive to the emotional transference in our communications and dealings, so that we can keep it positive to build up one another.

The third category of Tai Chi principles refers to the “internal”, that of “Jing” and “Song”.  Simply translated, “Jing” means to “remain focus in the practice of Tai Chi“ and “Song” means to “open up the joints”.    “Jing” can be translated into mindfulness, the purposeful intentional self-awareness that allows us to observe our own perceptions, thoughts, feelings and actions on a moment-to-moment basis, and to understand the internal and external factors contributing our own reactions.  “Song” can be translated into openness in our minds and hearts, so that we can accept what is not our own, see the positive in everyone and every situation, so that we can build on the positive in every circumstance.
Practicing Tai Chi by observing the principles will help cultivate and flow the “chi” (energy) and focus the “yi” (intention).  In the same manner, nurturing and growing the TCH program by observing the principles will help cultivate and flow the “trust” and “align” our purpose and vision.  Trust and alignment are the two most important factors in our success as an organization.
In the Yin and Yang of change management, we should also observe the need for receiving and perceiving (Yin) versus giving and doing (Yang), the need for quiet consolidation (Yin) versus energetic change (Yang), and the need for mutual nurturing of both Yin and Yang for holistic growth.  If we compromise the Yin, then the Yang may look strong for a little while, but it will also decline eventually without the nourishment of the Yin.  The net result is a diminishing of the sum total of Yin and Yang.  A better way is to build up the Yin, so that the Yang can be nourished and grow as well, then the sum total of both Yin and Yang will be greater than before. 

The TCHI is like the Yin of the TCH movement.  In the area of training and education, she can develop curriculum and pedagogy of TCH program and better tools for trainers to teach better.  In the area of research, TCHI can collate medical studies that are evidence based, to show the improvement of health and wellness outcomes of the TCH program.  She can also develop research protocol and teach research methodology to our members who are keen to do research.  In the area of promotion and resource, TCHI can develop marketing strategies and business plans to convince funders of the cost effectiveness of our TCH program, and also help with accreditation of instructors and master trainers.

The various TCH communities all over the world is like the Yang of the TCH movement.  In the area of training and education, they can attend the workshops, provide feedback to improve the program and use the teaching tools.  In the area of research, they can participate in the health and wellness outcome based research as they teach and practice TCH.  In the area of promotion and resource, the communities can engage government agencies and community groups, for organization of TCH programs.  They can also encourage the various health professionals and volunteer groups for TCH instructor accreditation.
In order to sustain the growth of the TCH movement, we also need the “Dan Tian”, the space or hub where the “chi” or “trust” can originate, gather and flow strongly.  This can be the annual TCH workshop in the various regions of the world, as well as the local TCH communities’ activities.  We can also explore the use of social media such as private facebook groups to promote interaction between members.

If we can nurture TCH institute and TCH communities all over the world by relating to one another based on the Tai Chi principles for growth, I am certain that in the not too distant future, we may be able to realise a common dream: “to empower people to improve health and wellness by making Tai Chi for Health accessible for everyone.”  We can do it!

Dr Lam’s Tai Chi for Health Institute has established a comprehensive curriculum that includes knowledge of tai chi and chronic conditions, effective teaching methods and how to stay safe.
Related Articles:

A Welcome Message for New Instructors

Welcome to the family!
Congratulations on completing the training workshop. I would like to offer you my very best wishes for your success at sharing Tai Chi for Health with others, I am sure it would the most fulfilling experience.jw stephpaulgp
I would like to offer:
And a few suggestions:
  1. Continue to practice tai chi regularly. You will enjoy tai chi more and set an inspiring example for your students.
  2. Read my book “Teaching Tai Chi Effectively” – it provides simple and proven methods to make your teaching more enjoyable.
  3. Use the instructional DVD “Tai Chi for Arthritis,” and the book “Overcoming Arthritis” to help prepare your class. Do encourage your students to purchase them, contact us for more information. 
  4. Please ask your participants and friends to subscribe to my monthly newsletter because it contains useful information about Tai Chi and new products and workshops.

I look forward to meeting and working with you in the future, feel free to email me through


Best RegardsDr Paul Lam

Dr Paul Lam

Dr Paul Lam

Tai Chi for Health Programs

Tai Chi for Health Is for Everyone!DTCA Ashville 2 

Tai Chi for Health programs are accessible for just about anyone, they are easy-to-learn; safe and effective for health. Dr Paul Lam and a team of tai chi and medical experts have created these programs by combining authentic traditional tai chi, up-to-date medical knowledge and teaching methods.The programs are designed to empower people to improve health and wellness. They are shown by studies to be safe and effective. That is why the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention ( and arthritis foundations around the world recommend one or more of the Health programs.

Richard Link Senior Trainer of the Tai Chi for Health Institute and FriendsYou might ask, “Why create different programs? Couldn’t we just use TCA for all conditions?” Yes, you could, as TCA would be safe and effective for most chronic conditions. However, there are several reasons why we created different programs. It is like a tailor-made shirt; while a large shirt would fit most people, one that’s tailor-made fits better. Thus, each program has its special feature. For example, TCA is focused on healing; plus, the tai chi forms, within this program, were specifically chosen to be safe—while effective—for people with arthritis. Therefore, this safe, healing focus also suits a group of conditions with challenges similar to those of arthritis. Tai Chi for Diabetes (TCD), on the other hand, focuses on a gentle, progressive increment of physical exertion. This gentle progression minimises the possibility of hypoglycaemia—a side effect that people with diabetes might encounter when they start new exercises. TCD also employs acupuncture points (energy points) for diabetics, based on traditional Chinese medicine. DTCA vermont2

Another advantage of having different programs is to provide you with choices and diversity of tai chi sets.
Important Note: To ensure the quality and ethical standards of our programs, Dr Paul Lam Tai Chi for Health Institute has listed all its authorized Master Trainers, Senior Trainers, as well as instructors trained and certified by them on its website. Any enquiries please contact us at
Click on a topic below for more information:Dr Lam, Linda from MN and Linda from UK at Alaska Tai Chi for Diabetes workshop
 The List of Tai  Chi for Health Programs:

tai chi for arthritis workshop in Oregan, USA 2006


  • Tai Chi for Arthritis proven by studies to relieve pain, improve balance and is safe, and supported by Arthritis Foundations worldwide. >>more
  • Tai Chi for Diabetes is designed to improve the control of and prevent type II diabetes, it enhances relaxation and reduces complications from diabetes. >>more 
  • Tai Chi for Beginners – the 6 Easy Steps will bring you better health and enjoyment of tai chi. >>more
  • Tai Chi for Back Pain enhances the stabilisers (core) muscles; to reduce pain, prevents recurrence and improves relaxation. It is also suitable for people who are wheelchair bounded or with a variety of chronic conditions. >>more
  • Tai Chi for Osteoporosis is designed to slow down bone loss; improve balance and quality of life. Supported by Osteoporosis Australia. >>more
  • Tai Chi 4 Kidz is a fun activity to develop children’s concentration and coordination. >>more 
  • Tai Chi at Work shows the secret to managing work stress and turning it into a source of strength. >>more
  • Qigong for Health includes breathing exercises especially beneficial for relaxation and inner energy. >>more
  • Tai Chi for Falls Prevention – based on the Tai Chi for Arthritis program, is shown to prevent falls, improve balance and health.>>more

To Find a Class: Click this link or go to Instructors, choose your country and location then click ‘find’

Related articles:

Remembering Russ

On March 10, 2013 our wonderful friend, Russ Smiley, was tragically taken from us.  His infectious smile will live on in each of us.
Notifying our Tai Chi Friends of Russ Smiley’s Passing
The Tai Chi for Health Community Board



We have the sad task of notifying you of the death of Russell Smiley, Master trainer, former TCHC board member, and friend.

Master Trainer Russ Smiley, died Sunday, March 10, 2013. Many of us have taken classes with Russ and remember his enthusiasm for teaching and how he was able to instill that enthusiasm in his students. He provided leadership in the formation of the Tai Chi for Health Community and the Tai Chi for Health Institute. He greeted everyone with his infectious smile and optimism. If there was anyone who lived up to his name, it was Russ Smiley! He may not be physically with us anymore, but we can all keep his spirit alive by taking what he shared and passing it onto others. And Russ will be smiling with us!

Please take time today to reflect on his life and what he shared. Be aware of the comforting healing energy we are sharing through our Tai Chi Community via email. Join Dr. Lam, master trainers, and others who were touched by the warm smile and soft voice and aided by his wisdom in honoring the memories we hold.

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Celebrating the Life of Russ Smiley

Ralph Dehner, Master Trainer, Fairfield, OH


Dear TCHI Friends, I just got word that there will not be a formal burial for Russ.  There will be a quiet cremation.



The desire is to celebrate the life of our friend at World Tai Chi and Qi Gong Day by dedicating the day honoring Russ' life mission of healing the world one person at a time through Tai Chi, Healing Energy and Love.

Please join all who knew and loved Russ by spreading his smile, with compassion around the world on April 27th from 10 to 11 AM.

This photo of Russ was taken before he collapsed.  He is surrounded by love and has his trademark smile, totally enjoying every minute.

With love and appreciation,

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Russ Smiley: Teacher, Mentor, and Friend
Linda Ebeling, Senior Trainer, Eagan, MN



Dr. Russell Smiley, MT, PhD in Health Science, taught for 26 years at Normandale College, inRuss with his Sword Class at the One Week Tai Chi Workshop, Terre Haute, IN 2007 Bloomington, Minnesota.  He developed curriculums for and taught Tai Chi, Healing Qigong, and Stress Management, teaching students to make informed decisions about their health and life style.

Russ was a passionate tai chi and qigong player for over 35 years.  He practiced and taught Dr. Paul Lam’s Tai Chi for Health programs as well as Yang, and Sun Style forms.  Last year, Russ took Dr. Lam’s Seated TCA program to the next level by developing a 2- day Seated TCA workshop and applying to AF and TCHI to teach for program certification.  He felt proud to bring the healing power of tai chi to populations that might not have access to more traditional forms.

I first met Russ when I took a Tai Chi class from him at Normandale.  I had studied qigong and a bit of tai chi in the past, but after my class with Russ I knew I wanted to teach it as well.  Soon Russ took me under his wing, urging me to get certified in TCA, and began to mentor me.

Russ always emphasized the importance of teaching from the heart and putting the learner first.  Russ’s enthusiasm for tai chi was evident in classes and TCA trainings; he made learning fun and low pressure, believing that humor helped people relax and learn.  He worked closely with the Upper Midwest region AF to promote Dr. Paul Lam Tai Chi for Health Programs. The program has grown tremendously from the seeds Russ had planted. Currently, the Upper Midwest Region of the AF has the second highest class numbers reported in the country.   Keith Root and I will continue Russ’s legacy.

As a mentor, Russ challenged me to grow as a tai chi player and teacher.  Russ always provided me with a vision and direction for roads he felt necessary for my development.  I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work closely with Russ in organizing and assisting him in two successful Seated Tai Chi workshops, and introducing TCA to North Dakota.  The biggest compliment Russ ever gave me was asking me to teach his classes during his sabbatical in 2011.  Normandale College has asked to take over his classes to ensure the courses he developed will continue.

Russ made everyone feel special.  It didn’t matter who you were or what was happening in his life.  When you stood before him, you were the most important person in world.  A professor at Normandale shared an encounter he had with Russ while grabbing a rushed lunch.  He was in a hurry and in a sour mood, but shared a few mundane comments with Russ. In a short 10 minutes, Russ completely turned his mood around. He left his conversation with Russ re-energized.  Russ had that effect on people.  He was always generous, always teaching, and always smiling.

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The Loss of a Best Friend

Keith Root, Eagan, MN, Senior Trainer

It is with great sadness that I have to report the loss of my best friend and comrade, Dr. Russell Smiley. His compassion and patience knew no bound. He had the gift of being able to keep the advanced students interested and challenged but also wait for the very last soul to catch up to their abilities.

Many of you may have wondered why I didn’t post directly to the TCH group. I don’t think you can begin to imagine how many people Russ touched. While being a leader in the TCH community he was also involved with Sifu Fong Ha’s group out of Berkeley. He had more than 150 instructors that he certified in TCH programs. His college work entailed another 400+ students who were exposed to TCH and other classes. My cell phone grew heavy with emails and I decided immediately to lean on Ralph to be the point man for disseminating information even though he was busy at a workshop. He graciously accepted and I thank him for that.

Thank you all for the support and loving wishes you expressed.

A great ninja has fallen.
May he rest in peace.
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My Memory of Russ
Mary Ronge, Tai Chi for Arthritis Instructor
My most vivid memory of Russ was when I had arrived early for the two day Tai Chi for Backpain workshop that preceded the week long workshop in Terre Haute, IN.  I had only taken Tai Chi for Arthritis before so the only person I knew was Pat Lawson.




When I registered they told me to look around the facility until the others arrived and registered.  I found my way to the ballroom and opened the door.  Inside the first person I saw was Russ.  My first reaction was to close the door and retreat.  Russ was practicing sword, along with someone else and there were several others doing forms at the far end of the hall.  I felt like I had intruded but his smile said that it was alright. 

Throughout the weekend I spoke with Russ a little, and although I am sad to say that I didn't get to know him well, I will always remember him as the first face to welcome me to the Terra Haute workshop. 

I am sure he will be missed but more importantly he will be remembered fondly by people all over the world.  That says a lot for a life well lived.

Mary Ronge



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Forward – A Review of the Revised and Updated Tai Chi Effectively Book


by: Professor Andy Choo
This is a timely book, as numerous studies have shown the effectiveness of tai chi in treating common diseases such as depression, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and hypertension. At the same time, Governments are recognising that tai chi can be very good for the public health system, because tai chi itself provides an affordable health-care system for improving wellbeing, treating chronic diseases, enhancing healthy ageing. And tai chi is a natural intervention, which involves self-motivation and participation, thereby empowering people to manage their own health.tte cover 220

This, too, is an exciting time, in which the nurturing light of tai chi is poised to shine brighter and further than ever before. More than ever, there is a huge demand for both good tai chi teachers and effective methods of teaching tai chi. The launching of this book is therefore timely and significant. It is true that there are many excellent books written about how to do tai chi, but good books on how to be an effective tai chi teacher are extremely rare. As someone who enjoys the daily practice of tai chi and qigong for twenty odd years, and teaching these arts on a casual basis for many of those years, I was touched, as I read through this text, by a sense of good fortune to have come across such a useful book.

Tai chi is an ancient art that has a lot more layers of technical and conceptual depth than meet the eye. Dr Lam’s approach to teaching this intricate art is refreshingly simple, heartfelt, and follows the tai chi principle that neither the teaching nor learning should be rushed but rather should flow smoothly with positivity and in small steps. His teaching model is built on the idea that often the most effective systems are the simplest ones. Indeed his Stepwise Method to learning tai chi forms appears so simple that it is surprising how effective it is.

But this book contains much more than how to teach the forms. It is a book about caring for the welfare of the students – and those of the teachers. It emphasises safety as paramount and describes potential risks and safety precautions that all tai chi teachers should be familiar with. It is also a one-stop-shop for anyone wanting to start a tai chi class or tai chi ‘business’, as it covers all the key elements from getting started through to making a success and lifetime enjoyment of the endeavour. Crystallising 30 years of experience of teaching tai chi in many countries and engaging in research and promotion of tai chi for its health benefits, Dr Lam shares his enormous insights into the theories and psychology of teaching, financial considerations, preparing for and leading the class, motivating and retaining the students, as well as other useful tools of the trade.

The chapter on 'Follow Through with Tai Chi Principles' makes particularly interesting and important reading. As Dr Lam puts it, the immense power of tai chi for improving health and inner energy, regardless of variations in styles and forms, derives from a set of essential principles. Leave these principles behind and tai chi becomes no more than the superficial physical gesturing of arms and legs that will bring little of the mind-body benefits that tai chi is so capable of delivering. Concepts such as song (relax, loosening and stretching out), jing (mental quietness and serenity), chen (sinking of qi to the dan tien or qi centre) and huo (agility and ability to move nimbly) are pivotal for the students to understand and apply in their practice; as are the principles of variation in the speed of tai chi movement and the awareness of not stopping. This book is full of such gems.

Teaching is a highly rewarding and imperative activity. This is a gold-standard book will benefit all established and budding tai chi teachers, as well as teachers of many other fields.

Andy Choo is a biomedical researcher who has published over 180 papers in internationally peer-reviewed journals and authored two books. He is a Professor of The Faculty of Medicine at The University of Melbourne in Australia, a Senior Principle Research Fellow of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science. He has practiced tai chi and qigong daily for over 20 years, teaches these arts on a casual basis, and is currently engaged in tai chi research.