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 (cdc.gov) and arthritis foundations around the world recommend one or more of the Health programs.
Dr Paul Lam
The journey to a higher level of Tai Chi can be confusing given that there are many styles and numerous variations within each style. I will try to give some simple guidelines to make it easier to improve your level of Tai Chi.
Dr Paul Lam
If you seek to improve your Tai Chi, it will happen. Bear in mind that you need to think about what you are doing and you need to practice regularly. Remember the four directions when you practice. Practise one direction for a while before moving to another. Taking time to do it slowly and correctly is the quickest way to improve your level. Following these directions and you may find your journey to higher levels of Tai Chi more enjoyable.
Four Directions to Improve Tai Chi
Dr Paul Lam
Like many other things in the modern world, we are overwhelmed with too many choices. When you go to the grocery store, you see twenty perhaps a hundred different types of cereals you can have for breakfast alone and everyone is saying very loudly through advertisement and marketing techniques that theirs is the best. So exposed to diversity in Tai Chi can be like having too many choices, it can be confusing, it can be so overwhelming it may put you off learning Tai Chi. Let us look at it positively, take it as a challenge and benefited from the choices available to us.
© Copyrights Dr Paul Lam.
All rights reserved, copying for non-profit educational purpose is permitted.
Like many other things in
the modern world, we are overwhelmed with too many choices. When you go to the
grocery store, you see twenty perhaps a hundred different types of cereals you
can have for breakfast alone and everyone is saying very loudly through advertisement
and marketing techniques that theirs is the best. So exposed to diversity in
Tai Chi can be like having too many choices, it can be confusing, it can be
so overwhelming it may put you off learning Tai Chi. Let us look at it positively,
take it as a challenge and benefited from the choices available to us.
The Guiding Principles
It is helpful to have some
guiding principles to steer us from the overwhelming choices, to find the right
things for our own needs. A principle is something that is always true despite
change of time and circumstances. For example love is a better bonding for relationship
than hate is a principle, which holds true always. A set of guiding principles
will help us to work through the diversity to find out what is beneficial to
Another way to look at diversity
is that in one way these differences are telling us that perhaps they are not
so important; therefore they are not the principles that stay true no matter
what. For example different styles have different ways to shape our hands, Yang
style has open hands, while Chen Style has closing hands (the fingers closer
with the little finger pressing toward the thumb with a inward wrapping force).
The difference with stepping is, Yang Style not touching the ground in between
each step and in Chen Style we drag our foot on the ground.
It doesn't mean that the
minor details are not important, once we understand the big picture. Once we
see the elephant as a gigantic animal instead of a wall or a tubing (see the
previous article Diversity – good or bad?), then the minor differences will
make sense. For example, once we understand Tai Chi was originally a martial
art with emphasis in internal development of qi. Then we can look at each movement
and each step to see whether it is effective as a martial art and for qi enhancement.
We can then see all different ways of shaping hands and stepping have their
own and unique advantages at these aspects. Then because we understand this
big picture, different ways to do things become different and useful techniques
that can be quite useful, depending on which style we are more suited to, or
have more talent for, or more liking to.
I would like to outline
a few guiding principles.
Past the Superficial.
The very thing that sets
Tai Chi apart from other martial arts or other exercises, like running or walking,
is that Tai Chi is an internal art. It involves the mind, the inside body and
the inner power – the qi. Being internal means we have to constantly use our
minds to focus on what we are doing. To focus on our movements helps us to integrate
our mind and body. We have to constantly use our minds to analyse the movement
that helps us to practice intelligently, find out what matters and effective.
We constantly use our minds to check if the movements fulfilling martial art
principles, the mind over body principle and that the mind power is more important
not just harsh force. We use our thinking ability to see if these particular
steps and movements have helped us to improve our qi – our inner power. For
example the Yang's open hand shape are more effective for qi to flow through,
while Chen's close hands are effective for combat. Both ways are important and
useful, in the long run stronger qi will give you strong inner power and more
effective martial art ability. With the stepping of Yang style it train better
balance control and subtlety while the dragging foot in Chen style is useful
to place foot in strategically position in combat, and also train stronger lower
Another example is when
you deliver a Chen style punch; there is a clear difference between it and a
Karate style punch. The Chen style punch is powered by an inner force and is
elastic with the force travelling in spiral. It has to be soft outside and strong
inside (cotton exterior and steel inside). Whereas I imagine a Karate punch
would emphasise on a straightforward force and speed. Whatever a punch is executed
properly it generates more qi and more body awareness for you.
Integration means whenever
you move, is your mind and body are integrated. The hand, trunk, foot all fully
coordinated, at a given point of time, are part of the body should be at one
position and then move in coordination with each other. One part of the body
moves the rest follow. Internally qi flows smoothly integrating with the movements
and their martial art intention. Any single movement without integration throughout
the body and with the internal body is not Tai Chi.
The very core of Tai Chi
is balance, balance of movements, of yin and yang and of internal and external.
Too soft or too harsh are both not well balanced; a movement that stretches
so far that you nearly fall is not good Tai Chi.
For example, last article
in diversity, I mentioned that with Wu style the body tends to lean slightly
forward, does it still give you good balance? Are you maintaining better balance
with your body vertical to the ground? I believe learning 5 to 10 degrees forward
helps to issue power. If you are totally upright it can be harder to push forward
with power. On the other hand even though you lean slightly forward you're still
capable of maintaining balance. I do not want to imply which is right, in fact
I practise several styles of Tai Chi except Wu style. I believe that different
people have different structures of bodies and for many people to slightly lean
forward may a good thing for them so long as the principle of being in balance
Another example is too much
emphasis on relaxation. This is very important but if you are so soft and so
relaxed like a jelly, then there is no strength. That to me is imbalance with
only too much yin and not enough yang.
Dantian is three fingerbreadths
below the belly button and slightly inwards. It is the centre of the body and
is the centre of qi. No matter what style you practice the awarness of Dantian
and the training of sinking qi to the Dantian is an essential part of Tai Chi.
If a particular technique does not help you to be more aware of the Dantian,
nor to help you sinking qi to the Dantian then you will need to think very carefully
about that technique.
One of the absolute 'always
stay true' principles, is practice. No matter how bright you are or how good
your method of Tai Chi is and how much you understand the theories, if you do
not practice, if you do not sweat enough, you will not truly understand the
inner meaning of Tai Chi and you will not benefit much from it.
Don't let diversity overwhelm
you. I believe the best things in life are simple. Understand simple truth.
Venture out, try it out, test it out, use your mind to figure it out. You will
be fascinated by different styles, forms and interpretations and discover what
suits you best.
It is important to be aware
of your need in learning Tai Chi. Most people are learning Tai Chi for better
health. I believe the criteria for better health is no different from better
martial art. Being healthy means you need to be stronger inside and out and
have more clarity in your mind. Together with stronger qi, better balance of
body and mind, works well both for health and martial arts. Once you know your
needs you can gravitate your learning towards what is more effective for your
Dr Paul Lam
Confronted with so many styles, forms and interpretations of Tai Chi, we should view the situation as an opportunity to enrich our knowledge and to help us progress more rapidly through our levels of Tai Chi.
© Copyrights Dr Paul
Lam. All rights reserved, copying for non-profit educational purpose is permitted.
From a business magazine
comes the following: "In such a world, the only thing we can trust is that
the certain becomes uncertain, and the unlikely becomes likely. The future cannot
be predicted – it has to be created. Einstein was wrong. No single theory can
guide us. Diversity rules. Questions rather than answers fundamentally drive
Dr Paul Lam
Qigong is one of the oldest exercises in Chinese history. Qigong is a breathing exercise that requires regular practise, and is especially beneficial for health and mental relaxation. Qigong is an integrated part of Tai Chi.
Four Qigong Exercises © Copyrights Dr
Paul Lam. All rights reserved, no part of this article may be reproduced in any
forms or by any means, without permission in writing.
Qigong is one of the oldest exercises in Chinese history, dating
back more than one thousand years.
There are numerous types of Qigong. Generally speaking, Qigong
is a variety of breathing, gymnastic, and meditative exercises. In Chinese,
Qi means several things; the most common meaning of Qi is air. Here, Qi means
the life energy inside a person. This life energy comes from the combination
of three things: the air breathed in through the lungs, essential Qi from the
kidney, and the Qi absorbed from food and water through the digestive system.
Qi circulates throughout the body, performing many functions to maintain good
health. The stronger Qi you have, the healthier and stronger you are. The word
Gong means a method of exercise that requires a great deal of time in which
to become proficient.
Simply put, Qigong is a breathing exercise that requires regular
practise, and is especially beneficial for health and mental relaxation. Qigong
is an integrated part of Tai Chi.
1. The Posture of Infinity – for posture awareness
According to ancient Chinese philosophy, the universe started
from a vast void, the infinity. It is called wu-ji in Chinese. The main focus
of this qigong exercise is for posture awareness.
Stand upright but relaxed, feet apart, knees relaxed, eyes looking forward,
chin tucked in, shoulders relaxed.
Cleanse your mind and focus on the correct posture-upright without
Charles loves the Irish people, every year in the social dinner of the Sydney workshop, he tells us about his Irish friends.
God Bless The Irish!
Hussein was sitting in his office wondering whom to invade next when his telephone
"Hallo, Mr. Hussein,"
a heavily-accented voice said. "This is Paddy down at the Harp Pub in County
Sligo, Ireland. I am ringing to inform ye that we are officially declaring war
Saddam replied, "This is indeed important news! How big is your army?"
"Right now," said
Paddy, after a moment's calculation, "there is meself, me cousin Sean,
me next door neighbor Seamus, and the entire dart team from the pub. That makes
Saddam paused. "I must
tell you, Paddy, that I have one million men in my army waiting to move on my
Paddy. "I'll have to ring ye back!"
enough, the next day, Paddy called again. "Mr. Hussein, the war is still
on! We have managed to acquire some infantry equipment!"
"And what equipment
would that be, Paddy?" Saddam asked.
"Well, we have two
combines, a bulldozer, and Murphy's farm tractor."
Saddam sighed. "I must
tell you, Paddy, that I have 16,000 tanks and 14,000 armored personnel carriers.
Also, I've increased my army to 1-1/2 million since we last spoke."
"Saints presarve us!"
said Paddy. "I'll have to get back to ye."
Sure enough, Paddy rang
again the next day. "Mr. Hussein, the war is still on! We have managed
to get ourselves airborne! We've modified Harrigan's
ultra-light with a couple of shotguns in the cockpit, and four boys from the
Shamrock Pub have joined us as well!"
Saddam was silent for a
minute and then cleared his throat. "I must tell you, Paddy, that I have
10,000 bombers and 20,000 fighter planes. My military complex is surrounded
by laser-guided, surface-to-air missile sites. And since we last spoke, I've
increased my army to TWO MILLION!"
said Paddy, "I'll have to ring ye back."
Sure enough, Paddy called
again the next day. "Top o' the mornin', Mr. Hussein! I am sorry to tell
ye that we have had to call off the war."
"I'm sorry to hear
that," said Saddam. "Why the sudden change of heart?"
"Well," said Paddy,
"we've all had a long chat over a bunch of pints, and decided there's no
way we can feed two million prisoners."
God Bless the Irish!
By Charles Miller
Dr Paul Lam
This is the largest fall prevention study in the world has found Tai Chi significantly reduced the number of falls in older people."
This is the largest fall
prevention study in the world involving approximately 700 people. After 16 weeks
of doing a Tai Chi program (80% of the participants did the Tai Chi for Arthritis
program – added by Dr Lam), "The results showed that Tai Chi significantly reduced
the number of falls by almost 35%. Tai Chi also significantly reduced the risk
of multiple falls by approximately 70%." The study concludes: "Compared with
other falls prevention interventions the trial showed that Tai Chi is one of
the most effective ways of preventing falls in older people."
Congratulations to the Central
Area Health Promotion Unit! This is one of the most effective works anyone can
do for health promotion. And it adds to the mounting evidence of the many tai
chi's health benefits.
If you wish to congratulate
them or find out more information please write to: Health Promotion Service,
Division of Population Health. Level 9 (North) KGV Building, Missenden Road,
Camperdown NSW 2050 Australia.
NB: For the other
published articles about how Tai Chi for Arthritis prevents falls:
Effects of Sun-Style Tai Chi Exercise on Physical Fitness and Fall Prevention
in Fall-Prone Adults"
Published in the journal of Advanced Nursing 51(2), 150-157
by Dr Choi J.H., Moon J.S. and Song R. (2005)
of tai chi exercise on pain, balance, muscle strength, and physical functioning
in older women with osteoarthritis: A randomized clinical trial"
Published by the Journal of Rheumatology Sept 2004
by Rhayun Song, Eun-Ok Lee, Paul Lam, Sang-Cheol Bae