Newsletter #34 - May 2004
In this issue:
-- From Dr Paul Lam
-- Facilitating Instructors' Workshops by Dr Pamela Kircher
-- TCA Program for the Vision Impaired at Vision Australia by Barry Davis
-- You Wouldn't Think that Germany by Dr Soraya Linkbeek
-- Comment re Balance by Wayne McQuire
-- Can Skipping Breakfast Help You Lose Weight? by Your_Health
-- ATCA website
I've just done two workshops in Hong Kong and three in Manchester, UK. A selected few photos of these workshops will be posted here just to show you how beautiful these places are, I will post the rest soon and write more after catching my breath.
These workshops have been very successful. The support and enthusiasm of colleagues and friends were overwhelming, thanks everyone.
Many of you have been using my Tai Chi Music CD in your class. Please note that you will not be required to pay copyright authority for this purpose. Buying the CD will entitle you to use it in your class and any other non-profit performance. There are two other Tai Chi music CDs produced by New World Music with my picture on their front covers. This offer applies only to the use of my own Tai Chi Music CD, which is available directly from Tai Chi Productions online or email us, Reader's Digest or Amazon.com. I commissioned an Australian composer, Jenny Ly, who was able to capture the rhythm and energy of Tai Chi to compose this music therefore I have sole copyright to this music. You will find her music enhance your practice and performance as I do. On this note I am making this CD the product of the month. It contains four pieces of music correlating the four major tai chi styles, a booklet with information about tai chi, poems describing the music and Tai Chi qigong exercise for vitality. Click here for more info or to place your order.
I'm looking forward to see many of you in Monterey, CA for the one-week workshop. There are still open spots, please contact us if you're interested.
In an effort to answer many enquiries about our training workshops, Dr Pamela Kircher, the president of the Tai Chi Association of America, writes an article explaining how we facilitate these workshops. Her view represents that of the Master Trainers.
Barry tells us his fascinating story of how to teach Tai Chi for Arthritis to people with visual impairment.
Last month I have asked you to send me story: "about someone you know who has bought tai chi to more people's awareness". Thank you Soraya for sending your story of tai chi heroes in Germany.
Also last month we discussed the topic balance, my old friend Wayne McQuire has sent in his comment on this topic.
Your Health, our regular article from an Australian Medical Newsletter, gives advice about missing breakfast.
American Tai Chi Association (ATCA) is a non-profit organization, I believe it has the right approach to help facilitate tai chi information. You might find it helpful.
Below is a list of my coming workshops. For more information go to this link: http://www.taichiproductions.com/workshops/index.php
-- June 10 - June 11, 2004. Thunder Bay, ON, Canada
Tai Chi for Diabetes Instructor's Training Workshop
-- June 12 - June 13, 2004. Thunder Bay, Canada
Tai Chi for Arthritis Update and Part II
-- June 21 - June 27, 2004. Monterey, California, USA
One Week Tai Chi Workshop USA
-- July 31 - August 1, 2004, London, Ontario, Canada
Tai Chi for Diabetes Instructor's Training workshop
-- Aug 21-22, 2004 Sydney, Australia,
Tai Chi for Diabetes Instructor's Training workshop
Also: On the month of October:
4-5th, 2004 Tai Chi for Arthritis Instructor's training in Sweden;
9-10th Tai Chi for Arthritis part I and II in Birmingham, UK;
16-17th Tai Chi for Back Pain in Florida, USA;
23-24th Tai Chi for Diabetes in Minnesota, USA and
30-31st Tai Chi for Arthritis in San Diego, USA.
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Most people who take the Tai Chi for Arthritis and Tai Chi for Diabetes classes are people who have never taken Tai Chi and who are older individuals who would probably never have taken a Tai Chi course if it were not this very gentle course that was specially developed for people who are older and/or who have chronic health conditions. They are looking for something that fits into their lifestyle with their physical limitations, that gets quick results in terms of health benefits, and that is taught in a manner that allows them to feel positive about themselves as they learn Tai Chi. They frequently have very significant physical limitations when they begin a Tai Chi for Arthritis course and these limitations must definitely be taken into account if they are to have a safe, positive experience that encourages them to continue to practice Tai Chi.
Hence, my goals in an Instructors' workshop are to train instructors who are skilled not only at Tai Chi but also at working with this unique population. Because of the goals of the workshop, both skilled Tai Chi instructors and also physical therapists and other health care professionals are invited to participate in the instructors' workshops.
As a facilitator of trainings, I have found that the big challenge with traditional instructors is to help them understand what it is like to have arthritis and/or diabetes and the physical and psychological limitations that people have when they enter their classes. Precautions are a huge part of the program and it is difficult for someone who is very physically fit and who has never worked with people with chronic illness to appreciate the need for those "extreme" precautions. For example, at a recent instructors' training, a participant who is also a rheumatologist gave a demonstration about how fully a person with severe arthritis would be able to participate in the warm-up exercises. It was very eye opening to the class to understand that level of disability.
Equally challenging as a facilitator is introducing physical therapists and health care professionals to Tai Chi forms and Tai Chi principles. That group of people really understand chronic illness and its limitations and are very aware of precautions, but they need a lot of attention placed on Tai Chi itself. Teaching the form to them is considerably more challenging than it is to people with a strong Tai Chi background. Giving them an appreciation of the rich and varied background of Tai chi and its important principles is also a challenge. These participants usually need to practice the form for awhile before they feel comfortable teaching it to anyone. It is quite useful if they can "buddy up" with someone in their area that is in the workshop as well. Using the video and practicing with a buddy usually builds their skill and confidence rather quickly so that they will be ready to teach in a few months.
It is unusual to find someone who has both the long time Tai Chi instructor experience and the background of working with people with chronic illness. Hence, it is to be expected that in a workshop, the facilitator will be bringing everyone "up to speed." Both aspects of the program are equally important and should be equally honored. I believe that Dr. Lam's program has been so successful because both aspects of teaching Tai Chi for Arthritis have been equally honored. When a workshop is composed of both participants who have been long-time Tai Chi instructors and participants with a background of working with people with arthritis and/or diabetes, there often develops among the group an appreciation of the knowledge and experience that each participant brings to the workshop. Conversations during the breaks and meal times are quite rich and supportive friendships often develop. If someone with more medical background can team up with a local buddy with a longer Tai Chi background, they are often of great support to each other as they begin to become instructors in their area. As a facilitator, I certainly encourage the development of those practice teams during the weekend so that they will be ready to practice together when the weekend is complete.
Honoring the skills of the seasoned Tai Chi instructor and the wisdom of the health care practitioner in an instructors' workshop while supporting each participant in learning the basics of the Tai Chi for Arthritis and Tai Chi for Diabetes programs certainly requires awareness, focus, tact, and dedication on my part!
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This is a brief information update on the progress of my TCA program for the Vision Impaired at Vision Australia, which I told you about late last year.
I recently finished a nine-week pilot course of five participants and its popularity has now seen the program continue. A second course has just gotten underway.
The program consists of:
Warm ups, limited to:
* breathing exercises
* shoulder roll exercise
* spinal stretch exercise
* hand & wrist exercises, and
* shake out
Movements - Basic 1-6 only
Cool down Limited
I have also included the hand (parry) movements which have proved to be very popular.
The ages of my first group were 83, 85, 86, 88, & 93 (average 87) - (See photo.) All but one were legally blind.Three suffered from macular degeneration with only limited sight. One had no central vision and was limited to partial peripheral vision only.
I use a number of TCA trained people to help. As you can appreciate, there is a great need of handson. Most were riddled with arthritis and the sad thing was that no one had ever given them any help with exercise programs. We made a special audio tape to help them practice at home.
Given their ages, it was important to gain their confidence at the outset. Having done that, the weekly sessions were something they looked forward to, so much so that we have had to incorporate a weekly practice class for the first group into the program. The current group consists of a paraplegic, a totally blind person and three with what I call limitedroomonly vision.
Paul, I have found that the more limited a person's vision is the easier it is for them to learn the exercises and movements. My initial apprehension about helping vision impaired people very quickly disappeared and I'm getting a great deal of personal satisfaction from the program. Incidentally, I shall be incorporating some of your seated exercises from the Tai Chi for Back Pain Video into our program because each group of vision-impaired people is not the same as the last and I need to be flexible.
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You wouldn't think that Germany, a country with very little tai chi awareness, has so many tai chi enthusiasts with incredible achievements.
Andy, of Chinese Indonesian descent, dedicated his whole life to passing on his family tradition of tai chi the general public. Germany does not have as many tai chi teachers as the U.S or Australia. At a time when tai chi was totally unknown and considered hocus pocus, Andy started to promote his many forms, among others Baduanjin, 24 forms, 42 forms and the long form. In 1991 he formed the first Tai Chi Chuan Association in Mainz, the White Eagle Tai chi and Wushu club. He trained many students and instructors and produced a video on Baduanjin. The White Eagle Association with 200 members is now conducted by his former students and Andy currently gives talks on TV, in hospitals, nursing homes, health foundations and many others.
Volker was the owner of the tai chi school in Wiesbaden, one of the pioneers of the Yang Long Form and a student of Yang Zhen Duo. He sees it as his duty to pass on the Yang family tradition including the martial arts applications, San Shou, Toysau and many others. His senior student Kai Schoeppe is now conducting the courses and currently training government-accredited instructors. Volker travels all over Europe and Germany and teaches in many hospitals as well as psychosomatic and arthritis clinics. His Yang association is the second largest in Europe.
Master Jan Silberstorff
Last but not least I would like to mention master Jan Silberstorff, Grandmaster Chenxiaowang's German disciple. He was a live-in student in China for several years, speaks Chinese like his mother tongue and passed his exam as a tai chi teacher in China in 1989. In the early 1990s, he set up the World Chenxiaowang's Association with the German chapter being the largest among all TC associations in Europe. He travels with the Grandmaster, promoting and expanding the association all over Europe and all over the world. His workshops contain all the forms from Chenjiagou, sexual qi gong and extensive work on the essential principles, also aimed at other forms and styles. A tai chi master at the age of just 37, he has achieved a level of skills and practical expansion of tai chi enthusiast after hard work. The association, wctag, WHAT'S THIS? has trained and is still training instructors on many different levels and being recognized all over the world.
I also hope my humble self has contributed something to tai chi worldwide.
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Hi! Thanks for the continuing and great newsletter emails. I would like to comment on the article on an approach to balance. For years I had the same question, "Why do some movements occur to one side only in most forms?" and is that a balanced way to train the body? Eventually I found a Master Teacher who had a satisfying answer to that question. Some previous teachers had taught their form on "Both sides;" some just said that`s the way it is; some said there are different movements that balance each other; some said it was due to the location of internal organs.
By continuing to persevere in my quest for understanding, I continued to search for more and better instruction. Four years ago I began study with William Ting www.silvertigertaichi.com. After 20 years and at least a dozen teachers, I found someone who has satisfying answers and can demonstrate the classic principles in alll aspects of himself and in his art.
His answer to the question regarding the Both Sides issue was simple and profound, as I find all his teachings. He explained that every movement in tai chi is balanced in itself. If not, then it is not tai chi, and the movement is not effective according to the principles. Within every posture, every movement at all times in all parts of the movement, there must be balance for the principles to be correct. So when punching with a right fist, there must be equal balanced energy in the left hand, and the whole body, for that matter. Tai chi is a circle. A circle only has two sides, inside and outside, which are in balance at all times in each movement. So no matter what the movement, there is always internal and external balance, or it is not ta ichi.
I always wondered why the experts had created forms that to the inexperienced eye (mine) looked unbalanced in their lack of symmetry. I kept asking questions. From Master Ting I get excellent and understandable answers. Please feel free to share this comment, and to contact Master Ting if you like first. I hope this might help people understand a question that is common in tai chi.
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No! People who regularly miss breakfast are actually more likely to be overweight or obese compared to those who don't. Breakfast prevents eating snacks (which are usually high-sugar and high-fat) during the day and helps keep weight down.
Studies have also shown that children who have breakfast regularly are leaner and also concentrate better at school.
The moral is for everyone to have a hearty high fibre breakfast every day, such as a high fibre cereal, wholemeal bread or fruit.
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The American Tai Chi Association (ATCA) is a non-profit organization serving tai chi professionals and consumers in the United States. In 2002, ATCA launched its website, the Tai Chi & Health Information Center (http://www.americantaichi.net). This website is partially funded by the National Library of Medicine of the United States, the largest medical library in the world.
The website provides free, reliable, authoritative and comprehensive information about various health conditions that can benefit from the practice of tai chi, including arthritis, asthma, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, aging and so on. It also provides a free Tai Chi Coach Search Engine in which users can locate tai chi coaches/schools in the U.S. by city, tai chi styles and/or benefits.
This website has gained a very good reputation since its inception and helped a lot of people who were searching for this kind of information. ATCA constantly adds new contents to the website. As one such effort, ATCA is working with the Health Science Library of George Washington University in Washington, D.C. to store tai chi-related information on ATCA's website that up to now has been available only to medical professionals. Thus, that information will soon become available to the public.
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.
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