Newsletter #31 - February 2004
In this issue:
-- From Dr Paul Lam
-- Delivering Force by Kam Lau Fung
-- Working with People with Post Traumatic Syndrome by Lesley Roberts
-- Outdoor Practice by Paul Lam
-- Silver Chi by Vickie Novak
-- Can Herbal Medicine Affect Blood Pressure by "Your_Health - a medical newsletter"
-- How Tai Chi Helps my Diabetes by Kathlean Fenning
-- Self Defence Application in Chen Style - video product information
The January week-long workshop has left many of us in high spirits. I believe the success of this workshop proves that anyone can progress enormously in tai chi and appreciation of life under a well structured, positive and interactive environment. One of the talks from the workshop, Kam's talk on Delivering Force is unedited to preserve the original flavour. You might find it difficult to understand, but if you were there to see his demonstration, you'd have been inspired.
The Tai Chi for Arthritis Association of America has a great newsletter with good articles. You can read the VOICE at http://www.taichiforarthritis.com/newslettertcaa/index.htm
Many people have asked me for the reprint of the two articles: "The Tai Chi Prescription" by The Journal of Complementary Medicine, March/April 2003 issue, and the ""Tai Chi and Exercise Program for All Ages," published by Arthritis Self-Management Magazine, November/December 2003 issue. These articles are copyrighted by the publishers, I have done a summary for each article, if you wish to have the full article, please contact the publishers. You can read the summaries here at http://www.taichiproductions.com/articles/index.php and go to the health section.
Thanks for your positive feedbacks on my discussion of tai chi and martial art last month. On this topic, we will make the self defence application video as the feature video for this month. Click here for the product information. https://www.taichiproductions.com/shop/product.php?product=33
The review of the month is won by "frankmitch" who wrote this thread regarding the Basic Six Forms. It is informative and helpful for beginners. http://www.taichiproductions.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=519. frankmitch, please contact our staff for your free Music CD.
Hope to see many of you in the one week workshop in June at Monterey; CA. below is a list of my coming workshops. Go to Calendar and click on each workshop for more info. http://www.taichiproductions.com/workshops/index.php
-- May 1 - May 2, 2004 . Sydney, Australia
Tai Chi for Back Pain Instructor's Training
This program is the result of much research, it is amazing that modern medical approaches to back pain is so consistent with the essential tai chi principles. At the same time understanding new research helps tai chi training. Looking forward to working with you in this inaugural workshop.
-- May 16 - May 17, 2004 Hong Kong
Tai Chi for Diabetes Instructor's Training Workshop
-- May 22 - May 23, 2004 . Greater Manchester, United Kingdom
Tai Chi for Arthritis Instructor's, Update and Part II.
Anyone who has completed the Tai Chi for Arthritis workshop is welcomed for the part II and Update workshops, no matter how soon or long you have done the initial workshop.
-- May 24 - May 25, 2004 , Greater Manchester, UK
Tai Chi for Diabetes Instructor's Training
Special discount for participants of both Manchester workshops.
-- June 5 - June 6, 2004 . Portrush, Northern Ireland
Tai Chi for Arthritis Instructor's
-- 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
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The structure of Tai Chi Chuan is between Ying and Yang, opening and closing etc. The main philosophy of the movements is combined with mind, Qi, and spirit. The movements are slow, equal, soft and light. Ying is soft, closed, cultivating, quiet…etc. Yang is hard, strong, open, fast, vigorous and delivers power…etc.
Delivery of force is the Yang symbol which expresses the strong and vigorous movements in the forms. Ying is soft and gentle, it cultivates the energy when you practice the forms, to increase the quality of health and life. Yang is strong and fast and is used for application or combat. When practicing the applications or delivering force, you need to take precautions of safety to avoid the risk of injury.
To improve the delivery of force movements, it should be understood where is the force comes from and what kind of force should be used. The force comes from Tai Chi Chuan training, called Jing, which is produced when the stiffness force has been neutralized or destroyed from the parts of the body by the long term practice Tai Chi Chaun, gradually the body produces an Internal energy, or vital energy(Nei Jing). Through the Delivery of force movement to show out the Internal energy. Its' quality is elastic, soft with firmness, heavy, vigorous and explosive, it is entirely opposite to the native force.
The Chinese name used for the internal force is Pang Jing. It's meaning in Chinese is expand, which can be described as a balloon that is filled with air, you use the hand to push it down, then the hand can feel the pressure push the hand out from the balloon, if the hand starts to release some force from the balloon, it will push the hand off the surface of the balloon and return to the normal shape.
Internal Force is produced when the body has a correct training method and is completely relaxed, it is stored in the Dentin (dan tian), the place which can store our internal energy and deliver out.
There are different directions to deliver the energy out, with different names, such as:
The force going upward is called Peng Jing (Ward off)
The force going both sides is called Lui Jing (roll back )
The force going forward is called Jei Jing (press )
The force going downward is called Ong Jing (push)
The force with catch is called Chai Jing (catch )
The force split both sides is called Ner Jing ( Split )
The force coming from the elbows is called Char Jing (elbow strike )
The force coming from the shoulders is called Kow Jing ( shoulder strike ).
The way to transmit the force is from the feet to the leg, hip, waist, body back, shoulder elbow, hand and fingers. It needs all the parts of the body coordinated together while doing the force delivery. The major part is the QI (mind) which acts as a commander to send a signal to the whole body to coordinate with the movements.
Do you want to do the "four ounce strength to move thousand pounds weight"? You must understand how to release the oncoming force, make the opponent lose balance, and then add a little force to push the opponent away. That means you must connect with the action of releasing the force while delivering the force at the same time.
Relaxing the body is an important factor to cooperate the delivery of force movement. The important points are relaxation, breathing, mind, body posture, position and timing. If you follow these points the movement will be natural. It is not doing with the stiffness force. Tai Chi theory says "use the mind, not the strength".
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I work in a residential venue where people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other stress related problems come to relax, get expert advice and assorted therapies. They come about twice a year for a week or two depending on their assessment. The atmosphere is deeply caring, supportive and non-judgmental, and I feel very lucky and privileged to be part of the good work. I lead two tai chi sessions a week there and have been doing so for four years. So by this time, everyone knows me well. PTSD can be a very distressing disorder for everyone involved. From the outside it may appear that nothing is wrong, but this often means that behaviour is wrongly interpreted causing further problems and anxieties. Whole families can be torn apart through lack of understanding.
This is how a man explained what it was like to live with PTSD:
No wounds upon the body,
No scars that you can find,
Just hurt from Wars fought long ago
Implanted on the mind.
No outward signs of injury,
No telltale signs of pain,
Only flashbacks and the nightmares
Time and time again.
But all's not lost for us, dear friend
There are those that understand,
Just let them lead us through the darkness,
Go with them hand in hand.
PTSD is a state of mind, leaving your mind in a state.
Inform - All attendees come willingly to the tai chi sessions, having read various handouts explaining what tai chi is about. This includes information on what to expect in a first session in detail such as: introduction, warm-up, tai chi qigong, tai thi forms, cool down, conscious relaxation. This information is important since many people with stress disorders view anything new as a threat, additional challenge or something that they may fail at. So, in the handouts I try to explain that it is non-competitive and there are no expectations. They can sit and watch, join in, sit, stand, do part or all of the session and must feel free to leave at any time. This seems to encourage many to come along and see what it's all about. This is their first big step so I always encourage their attendance with praise for coming to the session. This praise goes a long way to lift the spirits of people who may have very low self-esteem, especially those who feel that they no longer do anything positive for themselves due to the disorder. Praise helps them to recognise that they have achieved just by being there.
Stay alert - Most of the people with PTSD find that the sessions are relaxing, calming and peaceful, which helps them to control their minds for longer periods and release stress through movement. It is essential that as leader of the session, you are watchful at all times for any signs of physical discomfort or mental anguish developing in any member of the group. If in doubt ask, "Are you feeling okay?" and offer support if requested.
Be prepared - Gentle movement and a deeper connection with your inner self possibly for the first time can initiate many different emotional releases, especially in those who have buried problems deep within their minds and have learned to live with muscular tension as being the norm. These releases may manifest in many different forms such as crying, rocking, nervousness or physical aches and pains. I feel it is imperative to have professional support available to assist people who become distressed as a result of these releases and to offer the relevant therapies such as counselling.
After the tai chi sessions, it's useful to give additional encouragement and have a relaxed question and answer period. Everyone who participates seems to have a strong willingness to try to help themselves, to try to improve their lives and to take control again. The sessions always finish on a very calm and peaceful note.
The organisers use an anonymous feedback questionnaire which carefully monitors the needs of my group so that, if required, we can adjust the sessions. I read these regularly so that I can keep in touch with their genuine feelings about the sessions.
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I prefer that most tai chi practice be done indoors in a shaded but well ventilated place. Outdoors is great provided it's not too windy, too hot or too cold. It's relative to your own health and personal habits. For example, someone who works outdoors all day would have less problems practicing outdoors.
There is, however, something wonderful about practicing near trees, on grass and near a river.
I look at environment as relative. If your qi is strong, and you're healthy, then a minor wind or cold will not bother you. And the fresh air is great. On the other hand, if you're not in a healthy state, then it's better to grow stronger by practice indoors in an environment without any disturbances before practicing outdoors.
Whether or not you should practice outdoors also depends on how long and how strenuous your practice is. If you perspire a lot and if the weather is cold and windy, you'll quickly create a chill in your body which strongly contrasts to what's recommended by traditional Chinese medical theory and such a situation predisposes you to illness.
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Enclosed are the photos I said I would send. When I asked my class permission to do so, they were so thrilled and enthusiastic to share them with you and Caroline.
This all came about quite unexpectedly as do many of life's treats. One day in class a student remarked that she really liked my tai chi for arthritis shirt. Before long everyone is wanting shirts, but they wanted to create their 'own' shirt as a celebration of having practiced together for almost a year.
Everyone tossed ideas around and we have become the 'silver chi's'. People volunteered to look to places to have them printed, collect monies, etc. And it happened. The thing that enthralls me about this is the total group participation and bonding that has occurred through this brainstorm one person had.
Everyone was so anxious to get their shirts, that I decided to throw a party. Why not? The director of the senior center, Tim Erickson, helped me create certificates to honor each person's participation in sun style tai chi.
If you hadn't noticed, I really am a kid at heart, so I found some children's sunglasses and bubbles. I wasn't sure how all of this would be received, but those glasses were on everyone's faces in seconds. People were posing, blowing bubbles. It was magic!
The week before I shared with the class a couple excerpts from Ram Dass' book 'still here...embracing aging, changing, and dying' which spoke of the precious nature of each moment and how delicious our time here is.
We fully embraced that concept with chocolate cake...only problem was the decorator had misinterpreted my instructions. Instead of white frosting with blue lettering, it came the other way around. It was a very blue cake. People had very blue teeth and lips and nobody cared.
So I hope you enjoy this story and photos while you are traveling around the world spreading the gift of tai chi. We want you to know how much your efforts are appreciated. The silver Chi's are really gaining momentum. People want to know what that 'chi' stuff is all about. And I didn't create it. My students did. It gives me such joy to see this happening.
Our local newspaper is going to do an article on tai chi and seniors featuring the silver chi's, but will also expand on all the sun programs that are happening in this area. I don't know if Pam Kircher has told you but she has been having a consistent group of 25+ in her Vallecito class. This class is outside of Durango in a most unexpected location for such a large class, but the interest is there and Pam has made the commitment to serve the need. Our 73 class has 10+ now and on it goes. Pam and Caroline are such amazing master trainers...thank you for asking them to be a part of this phenomenon.
I wish you safe travel and much continued success with these programs. I know your Florida workshop is at capacity! Many people keep the ripple flowing, but it is your passion for tai chi that has been the inspiration.
My very best wishes,
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CAN HERBAL MEDICINES AFFECT BLOOD PRESSURE by permission to republish from "Your_Health - an Australian medical newsletter"
Yes. Liquorice root in laxatives and cough medicines (as well as large amounts of eaten liquorice), ginseng and black cohosh can all increase your blood pressure, possibly making it harder to control. Always tell your doctor if you take any herbal remedies.
A number of other natural treatments, such as hawthorn, garlic, ginger, parsley and celery are said to lower blood pressure, but there is very little evidence to support their use. Ring the Medicines Line for more information on 1300 888 763 (Australia only).
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I hope my experience below with Tai Chi and my diabetes can be used by you to help other people to achieve similar results and enjoy better health as I am.
I have been an insulin dependant diabetic for 15 years and have had poor and brittle for a number of these years. Because of my poor control of my diabetes I was being considered for a new insulin being tested. Before being considered I had to have a complete physical examination. Part of this examination includes checking the pulse points in the lower limbs on a machine. Mine registered 4.
Over the years I had tried many different types of exercise, none being successful. I had just started doing Tai Chi. One year later, after my first physical examination, I had been doing Tai Chi for that year, and I had my annual examination, my pulse point reading is now 7 and my diabetic control is near perfect.
Tai Chi has really made the difference for me. I am a happier and healthier person and I hope other diabetic people can also benefit the same way I have.
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The 32 Self Defence Application videos contain many movements that are applicable for different versions of Chen style, including the 36 and the 56 Forms. The video is worth taking a look. The set consists of two volumes. Each volume contains a demonstration and analysis of the movements; a demonstration of self defence applications in two speeds and with different variations and angles.
This product is the result of a pleasant collaboration between Peter Wu, Kam Lau Fung and Paul Lam. We had great fun producing that. It's a combination of tai chi theory, tai chi experience, practical self defence experience and a real test for using the video as a media to present such sophisticated subjects so they're easy to understand, artistic and useful for tai chi enthusiasts.
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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.