Newsletter #41 - December 2004
In this issue:
-- FROM ME TO YOU by Dr Lam
-- UNIVERSE by Dahlis Roy
-- TAI CHI FOR KARATE KIDS AND PARENTS by Dr Soraya Lingbeek
-- HORMONE THERAPY. THE LATEST ADVICE by Your_Health
-- TAI CHI TO THE WIDE BAY BURNETT COMMUNITIES by Maureen Lee and Jan Davis
-- PHOTOS OF NEW COLLEGE - JUNE 05 WORKSHOP IN FLORIDA
Click on the title to read the article, and here to read previous newsletters
I trust you have a great Christmas, would like to wish you a Happy New Year.
Most of all, I wish that your next year will be healthy and full of happiness. A quote from Abraham Lincoln: "Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." Yes, a positive attitude can make the difference.
Positive attitude leads me to my article about teaching. It's part of the book I'm writing, about teaching tai chi effectively. As the world has realized how effective tai chi is for health, how enjoyable it is, the demand for tai chi teachers has never been greater. I know this man who learned tai chi from a book. He practiced it in the park, people saw him… and asked him to teach them. Since he lives in a very small isolated town in Australia, there was no tai chi teacher and he took up the job. Eventually he came to my workshop to learn how to teach better. I believe there is a need for a book on how to teach. What do you think?
We have created a space in this website to help you find a tai chi teacher. There are now 800 instructors around the world listed, one of them might be close to you. If you are a tai chi teacher feel free to add your name here. Instructors certified by me or my authorized master trainers are identified with a logo. Debra Leung who teaches tai chi full time told me that she never needs to advertise. She gets plenty of students and invitation to speak in seminars by words of mouth and being listed on my site.
As for what's in this newsletter, it was so nice to come home and receive a gift from Dahlis, a friend from far way. She sent me a great painting and a poem. I think it describes many of my tai chi friends. Read it below. Soraya tells an interesting story about teaching kids tai chi. An article on Hormonal Replacement Therapy from Your_Health, an Australian medical newsletter. And lastly, Maureen and Jan tell us how they take tai chi to the rural communities in Queensland.
The most useful review of this month came from Jayne Sheridan: I have been working with a day centre for physically and mentally disabled adults, as well as a local 'stroke-club' for the last two years. As many of the students of my classes can not stand for any length of time, I have found the exercises on the 'T'ai Chi Anywhere' video a real help. My students love T'ai Chi, and this video enables them to do the form - as it says - anywhere. Jayne please emails our office to claim your free copy of Tai Chi Music CD.
Hope to see you at an upcoming workshop. You can find the list of my and my authorized Master Trainers' workshops from this link: http://www.taichiproductions.com/workshops/index.php
I'm also including some photos of New College in Florida which is to be the site for the one week workshop in the USA this coming June.
This month's feature product is a package. Please place your order in the usual way and remember to include the promotional code "Dec04" in the 'comment' section."
- Tai Chi for Arthritis DVD or Video: Step-by-step instructional tape of the simple, safe and effective program especially designed for people with arthritis, supported by many Arthritis Foundations worldwide. Scientific studies have shown this program to relieve pain and improve physical function. It is also a excellent introduction of tai chi for any beginners.
- Tai Chi for Arthritis handbook: Designed to assist people who are learning the Program from an instructor or the instructional video.
- Tai Chi for Arthritis Part II DVD or Video: is the sequel of Tai Chi for Arthritis.
The two tapes and one handbook are normally priced at USD$59.85, for this month feature package it is USD$39.95.
Click this link to place your order: https://www.taichiproductions.com/shop/product.php?category=1
Paul Lam MD
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Many factors make a tai chi teacher effective. Effective teaching takes time and experience, like the art of tai chi, the art of teaching is grows with practice. You will become a more effective teacher with experience and the willingness to learn. The essential components of effective teachers include knowledge of the art; understanding how your students learn and their objectives; adequate preparation; and, the ability to communicate and inspire without intimidating students.
The success of the students is the most important measure of success. To assess the value of any work, one must first look at the end result. And it's important to define the end result accurately. For example, in the case of an athlete training for competition, the true end result is not necessarily winning the competition although that can be part of it. The most important end result is the progress of the athlete in term of his or her physical, mental, and emotional growth.
For a tai chi teacher, how well your students have learned; how much have they achieved in their goals; how much interest they have developed in tai chi; how much they have benefited; how much they enjoy the art, and how frequent they practice are all important components of the end results.
Once the end result is defined, then a teacher should look into the objectives of the students, and how they learn. These will form the basis for the teacher to work out a teaching method. For example, there are three main types of sensory learners: the visual, the auditory and the kinesthetic. When teaching a group, chances are there are all types of students, so a teacher should develop techniques to use all three methods in order to achieve the desirable outcome. The teacher should describe the movement for the auditory learners; demonstrate for the visual learners; and do hands on work for the kinesthetic learners.
Based on ancient Chinese philosophical understanding of nature, harmony and balance, tai chi is an art with great depth. This can be applied to being an effective teacher.
The law of nature is balance of yin and yang, which complement each other. Maintain balance. Growing internal strength and harmony are the essence of tai chi. In a combat situation the tai chi approach is different from most other martial arts. It's not confrontational in the sense that blocking and punching back, faster and stronger win the day.
The tai chi approach is best expressed in the technique of pushing hands. Let's say your opponent throws a punch toward you. You use your hands to touch and "adhere" to the approaching arm, feeling the incoming force and at the same time yielding to it. Yielding is not admitting defeat. You still maintain your balance and center. Yielding is moving backward intentionally without compromising your strategic position, at the same time absorbing part of the incoming force. Once you understand the direction and property of the incoming force, you can then redirect it away from its intended target. It's much easier to redirect a partial force than blocking front-on to a full force. As you redirect, you can add your own force and select your way to gain control of your opponent. In a blow-to-blow combat, the winner could sustain injury for blocking a full incoming force. Whereas in tai chi approach, you can gain total control without injuring yourself.
This is true for real life, too. Instead of shouting back when someone shouts at you angrily, take a step back to absorb the incoming anger, survey the situation, try to understand why the person is angry. As you do that, the person's anger will mostly likely be alleviated from your yielding and willingness to listen (being absorbed). Once you fully understand the situation, you're in a much better position to work out a more positive outcome for both of you.
I use this technique to resolve some major life challenges. Some years ago just before one of my book was to be published, a dispute developed between the publisher, a major international company (a gigantic organization), and my co-author. I was caught in between. Whether or not we had chosen them as publishers, one of them threatened to take us to court. I was able to use the yielding method successfully. In fact, it took an immense amount of yielding and redirecting but we were able to work out a way for all parties to achieve their objectives peacefully-a four-way win.
To apply this technique to teaching, first step back and listen to your student. Find out why he or she wants to learn tai chi. And then establish an appropriate teaching method. Once we understand what we want to achieve, It's much easier to get there.
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UNIVERSE: SHADOWS OF CRANES
By Dahlis Roy
The crane flies alone, yet not alone, notice the shadows of cranes accompanying him. The crane is centered and focused, like Tai Chi practice. The crane is a Tai Chi Master! He can be still, even for hours, then strike with great power!
Note: This poem and letter accompanied a 16 x 20 inch oil painting on canvas as a gift for Dr. Paul Lam. The note said, "With grateful appreciation for all you do world wide helping others connect to tai chi practice and improve teaching methods. In 1998 in Illinois, I was learning the 88 Pattern. That summer, a form practice group met in the park six days a week with an appointed leader. Saturday morning, we would all meet again for class. This experience gave me the feeling of what it is like to practice everyday as people do in China. I began to paint many pictures based on tai chi themes. One day, I painted some clouds and sky with no thought, just to enjoy.
Several months passed, I picked up a brush and spontaneously brushed in a Whooping Crane, an endangered species. The markings are different from the Mandarin Crane. The spirit of tai chi seemed to soar with the bird! I brushed in a shadow of a crane to accompany him. Some people say there are even more cranes in the painting, painted without conscious thought.
Then in the fall, I was promoted to tai chi form practice leader by Dr. Jiong Gu. My life changed forever as new dimensions of thinking, feeling, living, seeing, and helping others opened up to me like a flower blooming.
We moved to Michigan in 2000. Traveling to meet you for your Tai Chi for Arthritis workshop in Lansing, May 2002, I looked up. A solitary porcelain white Whooping Crane floated over the treetops and swooped down preparing for a gliding landing. I had already painted him. I had never seen a Whooping Crane before except in photographs. The bright blue sky and puffy clouds glowed brightly. Tree tops ignited with golden light in the fading sunset as the bird floated overhead like a giant aircraft.
Painting with intuition opens many surprise packages. My work took on new dimensions of color and light after practicing and then teaching tai chi. Enjoy your soaring crane, painted before we met, a gift from the heart.
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While I was in Wiesbaden, Germany, I was asked to teach tai chi to karate kids and parents. We decided on Paul's Sun style short forms (Tai Chi for Arthritis) due to their livelier pace. The kids ranged from five to 16 with different levels of skills. Mostly, they liked dynamic and flashy training so I demonstrated Chen 56 to create interest. We explained to them that at the advanced levels both karate and tai chi ended up as a martial art driven by internal energy with slow and fast movements intermixed. Karate starts fast with primarily fist training, Tai chi starts slowly but also emphasizes accurate movements before exploring internal energy in-depth.
The smaller kids tended to be more interested in the playground than the teaching. I tried not to force them into precise movements but instead let them express more of their own energy. Even for adults, my method is to refrain from overcorrection and focus more on positive aspects. The little boy in the picture is only five, and does not always follow instructions but his motor skills seem to be more advanced than others of his age. Apparently he captured a lot by just being around.
We also played a lot of games, something that would interest adults, too. One game I introduced is "playing robot." One is the director, the other the robot. The robot has to close his eyes and follow the director's instructions. The robot walks, and the director says to walk straight, left or right. The robot will learn to trust others and let go, and to develop a feel for his body and for left/right orientation. The director learns to share knowledge at a very early stage. I landed in a creek because my partner was only three years old…
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Recently, a group of Australian experts has provided updated advice on the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after the menopause. Many women stopped taking hormones after alarming media reports in 2002.
- Most women take hormones for short-term treatment of hot flushes, night sweats, sleep disturbance, vaginal dryness and sexual problems. In most cases, treatment is required for only 1-3 years.
- The experts concluded that 'for otherwise healthy women with moderate to severe menopausal symptoms, the benefits of short-term hormone therapy are likely to outweigh the risks' from using it.
- HRT can also be used for the longer-term treatment of osteoporosis when other options are not suitable.
What are the risks?
- There is a small increase in the risk of breast cancer, blood clots and stroke from combined HRT (oestrogen + progestogen).
- In the case of women in their sixties, 30 women in 10,000 will get breast cancer each year. In women taking combined HRT, the risk rises to only 38 in 10,000 per year. There is no increased breast cancer risk however in the first 4-5 years of use.
- Women taking oestrogen alone do not appear to have a higher breast cancer risk.
- There may also be a small increase in the risk of heart disease in older women.
Each woman is different. Discuss your own circumstances with your GP (family physician) and have an annual check-up while on treatment. For further info, go to www.jeanhailes.org.au
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Jan Davis and Maureen Lee would like to share with you their experience of taking TCA to the Wide Bay Burnett communities.
Stay on your feet is a Queensland Government Research and Prevention project to assist older persons to stay on their feet. Just over a year ago, Wide Bay Burnett communities finalized their community action plan to identify activities and resources needed by communities to assist these people. Since then, the Stay on your Feet team has 19 local Volunteer ambassadors working in 13 communities to spread the message.
'Stay on your Feet' presented a 2-day physical activity EXPO training workshop for 'Fit to Function' This program included Nordic Pole walking, life ball, and Tai Chi. Many communities throughout the Wide Bay Burnett area have identified the need for local Tai Chi opportunities in their areas.
In response to this need, Stay on your Feet program provided 3 free one day workshops on Tai Chi for Arthritis. Jan and Maureen were asked to conduct these workshops as they were aware that they both taught TCA at the Senior Citizens here in Harvey Bay. Mundubbera, Bundaberg and Kingaroy were chosen for the location of the workshops. This was to be a journey of 1200 km round trip by road. The response to the workshops was overwhelming and a total of 137 people were expected to attend. The dates set for Mundubbera was the 24th Aug, Bundaberg 28th Aug and Kingaroy 3rd Sept. It was a very rewarding experience for all and the feedback was encouraging.
The interest in TCA in these communities attracted people from varied walks of life. There were nurses, fitness and aerobic instructors, martial arts, respite workers, physiotherapists, cattle property owners and farmers to name a few. These people had travelled great distances to attend the workshops as far to the north as Miriam Vale, Agnes Waters, Mt. Perry and from the west Gayndah, Biggenden, Murgon, and Gin Gin and many more small communities. Their ages ranged from 20 -90 yrs.
In each workshop there were some people unable to stand for any length of time and they were pleased when encouraged to be seated and pleasantly surprised to realize Tai Chi for Arthritis could be done while seated.
At the end of each workshop, these people went away with the knowledge that Tai Chi was the perfect exercise to help them Stay on their Feet.
There is to be a 2-day workshop conducted by Elva Arthy in early Nov which will be held in Maryborough, Maureen and Jan have been invited by Elva to help her. Successful participants will then return to their communities to teach TCA assisting people to Stay on their Feet. We hope you are as pleased as we are of the message that is being spread here in the Wide Bay Burnett area, that Tai Chi practise is of great benefit to the body, mind and spirit regardless of your age or disability.
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PHOTOS OF NEW COLLEGE - JUNE 05 WORKSHOP IN FLORIDA
One week tai chi workshop presented by Dr Lam, click here for more info.
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END OF NEWSLETTER
Warning: Dr. Lam does not necessarily endorse the opinion of other authors. Before practicing any program featured in this newsletter, please check with your physician or therapist, the authors and anyone involved in the production of this newsletter will not be held responsible in any way whatsoever for any injury which may arise as a result of following the instructions given in this newsletter.