Newsletter #0 - February 2013
- How Selected Yoga Techniques Can Help Tai Chi and Qigong - by Professor Vince McCullough
- Precautions When Teaching Tai Chi
- Questions by Don and my answers
- The 73 Sun Style Class by Dennis Walker
- Your Health - Health Humor
- Sandy's comment
- Tai Chi for Diabetes
The Tai Chi for Diabetes video is designed for people with diabetes to self-learn this program. It is also useful as a teaching aid by authorised instructors. It consists of a simple set of forms based on Sun and Yang styles.
The tape starts with a brief general introduction of diabetes. It includes Professor Denis Yue from University of Sydney, Professor Terry Diamonds from St George Hospital and Debbie Petersen, a spokeswoman from Diabetes NSW. These experts discuss the benefit of exercise for people with diabetes and about diabetes.
Next is an introduction about tai chi and how it works for diabetes. Then the warming-up and cooling-down exercises taught in a class situation. The Tai Chi for Diabetes program is divided into the basic movements, which consist of 11 single movements and the advanced movements, which consist of 9 slightly more challenging movements.
All the instructions were by Dr Lam with the help of assistants and a group of students many of them are diabetic. One of the assistants will repeat the movement front on and then back on and then the assistant will perform with a group of students. The repetition and different angles will facilitate learning.
It is designed for viewers to follow the assistant when he or her back is facing the viewer.
Throughout the tape, there are explanations of the meaning of the movements, the precise positions and advice on how to practise. One of the main features of Tai Chi for Diabetes is utilising Chinese traditional medical theory to help control diabetes, and the Qigong for diabetes is an innovative, simple exercise to help enhance the life energy relevant to diabetes. The tape concludes with Dr Lam demonstrating the complete set facing viewers and then with his back facing the viewers. This is especially useful for viewers to follow Dr Lam to practise after you learn the whole form.
The following is an article written for the Conquest, the national journal of Diabetes Australia, in which it explains about the program and how it works.
Tai Chi for Diabetes Article
What is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi originates from ancient China, nowadays it is practiced throughout the world as an effective exercise for health. Tai Chi consists of fluid, gentle movements that are relaxed and slow in tempo, breathing is deepened and slowed, aiding visual and mental concentration. It can be practiced almost anywhere and is a suitable form of exercise for just about anyone.
How Does It Work For Diabetes?
Exercise can help people with diabetes by improving the control of blood glucose level, as well as indirectly by minimising the complications of diabetes.
As an exercise, it is reasonable to assume Tai Chi will help improve cellular uptakes and glucose metabolism. There are other advantage of doing Tai Chi, it is proven to have high compliance, people who learn Tai Chi tend to continue doing it for years. The mental training of Tai Chi is effective for relaxation, which is especially beneficial to people with diabetes.
There are increasing number of scientific studies exploring the many health benefits of Tai Chi. Substantial evidences have shown that Tai Chi improves fitness, hypertension, muscular strength, flexibility, balance, relaxation and cholesterol level.
The Power of the Mind
The mental training in Tai Chi will enhance clarity of the mind, improve relaxation and uplift mood. The immense power of the mind has not been fully estimated. As one of the most powerful mind-body exercise, Tai Chi teaches the student to be mindful of the intrinsic energy from which he or she can perceive greater self-control and empowerment.
The Power of Qi
In Chinese, Qi is the life energy inside a person. The concept of Qi is a basic belief in most eastern cultures for thousands of years, acupuncture and Chinese medicine base their central theory on this concept. Tai Chi is also called meditation on motion having incorporating Qigong as an integrated component. The gentle and slow movements stretch one's energy channels and keep them strong and supple; the rhythmic movements of the muscle, spine and joints pump energy through the whole body.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, enhancing life energy or Qi in the appropriate acupuncture meridians or energy channels will improve diabetes.
A Special Designed Program - Tai Chi for Diabetes
Tai Chi for Diabetes is simple, easy to learn and yet it is effective like most Tai Chi forms. Dr Paul Lam worked with a group of Tai Chi practitioners, Professor Dennis Yue and Dr Terry Diamond to compose this 19-movement program based on both Yang and Sun style. The program includes precaution of exercises, warm-up and wind-down exercises, a Qigong exercise, a basic and an advanced set. The program will be taught through Diabetes Australia later this year.
A 95-minute Self-teaching video is available through Diabetes Australia or from Tai Chi Productions.
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I'm not sure that we realised what we were in for when we turned up at St. Vincent's College in Sydney for a week of tai chi. I am sure, however, that I wasn't the only one enrolled for the Sun style 73 competition form who wondered if we could possibly learn the form in only six days. We were a lively group from every state in Australia, from the US, Korea, Hong Kong and New Zealand (me) and we all brought to the workshop our different backgrounds and experience of tai chi. It was an amazingly friendly and harmonious group, everyone working together. There was a lot of hard work and a lot of fun, as well. Kam was a wonderful, patient teacher and Swee gently guided us at practice. It was inspiring, too, when Paul came along to class to teach us.
On the first day, we got up to Form 11 ("Playing the Lute"): Thought: "will we ever manage to complete the set at this rate?" On the second day, however, we zoomed right through to Form 30 ("Waving Hands Like Clouds Right"). Just about halfway! It was at this point that it did indeed seem possible that we might-just-get to the end before the end. Tuesday took us through to Form 52! Yes! We could do it! But then came Wednesday. And the toll of Tuesday began to be counted. All that practice of that damned double kick (Form 35 Turn Body and Jump Up with Both Feet"). Our legs ached, our knees wobbled, we groaned, we moaned, thought of a nice lie down somewhere cool. But we survived it and, on Thursday-Thursday!!-got to the end of the set. The sense of triumph was momentary as the thought of the demonstration on Saturday brought us back to the reality of what we still had to achieve. Friday came and we began to practise the entire set. And we were awful; we were dreadful! Kam, our ever-patient and fun-loving instructor and Swee who took us for practice looked disbelieving. We looked disbelieving, too. Could we really be this bad after all the work we, and Kam and Swee, had done? Yup! But somehow between morning coffee and afternoon tea, something happened and it all-sort of-clicked. I think we all then realised that we could do the demonstration the next day and not embarrass ourselves or, more importantly, Paul and Kam and Swee. When Saturday came, it was wonderful to see the work and the achievement of others and when we finished our set, I think we made the rowdiest, most exuberant noise of the morning. Thanks to Paul and Kam and Swee, and our own hard work, we had achieved what we set out to do. And the taste of it was sweet.
It was a wonderful week of tai chi, of hard work and harmonious friendship. A considerable number of participants had returned to this workshop after coming to earlier ones. I now know why. And I'll be back again next year along with the rest of them.
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Medical Terms Explained
Medical jargon can be so confusing. Here are some explanations:
Alimentary - what Holmes said to Watson.
Artery - the study of paintings.
Benign - what an eight-year old wants to be.
Cardiology - advanced study of poker playing.
Chiropractor - an Egyptian doctor.
Fibula - small lie.
Genes - Blue denim slacks.
Intern - one after another.
Mammogram - a cable to mother.
Nitrates - cheaper than day rates.
Pelvis - Elvis Presley's cousin.
Ultrasound - a loud noise.
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Dr. Lam, I want to let you know how helpful your 24 Form tape was to me. I purchased your tape about the same time I started my first Tai Chi class. The instructor (an elderly chinese man) is very good but does not speak english. So I learned as much as I could by mimicking him. The class is auditorium-large, and though he tried to give us individual attention, he could only correct gross mistakes. So I relied on your 24 Form tape to teach me proper form.
This is just to give you feedback...
I found another class today. A chinese woman who speaks english and who does both the 24 and 42 forms. She asked me to show her the 24 forms I learned. I did, and she said there are slight, insignificant differences, and that I had an "excellent" foundation. She wanted to know who my teacher is, and I blurted out Dr. Paul Lam. Then I asked if she knew of you. She smiled warmly, then nodded yes. I didn't realize until after I mentioned your name that I consider you (and not my weekly instructor) my true teacher, but I do; and I want to thank you for all your good video instruction and all the articles explaining so many things I couldn't get in class.
My questionis this. Now that I plan to learn the 42 Forms, will I need both Volume I and 2 to get me started? The video description is not clear. What I found so helpful in the 24 Form tape is that after I learned the 24 forms by going through the individual postures, I then began to use only the end of your tape (to follow you through the set) for my daily practice... Sandy
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Q: How do you accumulate Jing in the form?
1. The simplest answer is to do your form well. Fulfil the essential tai chi principles and your Jing will improve. Being more specific, first practice within the confines guided by the essential principles. Lower your stance as much as comfortable. The lowering the stance gradually and naturally (without losing the right body alignment) strengthens your leg muscles and improve your power of Jing.
2. Practice with the focus on intention without tensing yourself up. When you have a clear intention of where the force is to be delivered, the qi will naturally flow to the focused area and strengthen the force being delivered. Following the tai chi principles, loosen the joints, sinking of the qi, maintain an upright posture and the Jing will be strong. Be sure not to tense up your muscles, because tensing muscles and joints will hinder the flow of qi, therefore making Jing weak.
3. Among the essential principles, it is very important to have the force generate from the foot, travel to the leg, travel in a spiral motion to the waist, commanded (or co-ordinated) by the waist and delivered through the shoulder to the fist. The same holds true for a kick. The travelling pattern should be the same but expressed through the foot.
4. It is important to take your time to store up the Jing. Thus, it's important that the movements before you deliver the force be done correctly and, if time allows, slowly.
Q: How is this Jing expressed in the form (fa jing) while still retaining some Jing for later moves?
1. A correct execution of the forms does provide a continuation of Jing, so when you deliver force, your body is still well balanced and you haven't over committed yourself by pushing yourself out of alignment. The fa jing movement is like a curve, where you accumulate force and deliver and then the curve moves on and flows onto the next wave of force and in this circular motion, the Jing is continuous. It's like watching a wave sideway. It reaches a height but curves downward with a continuation of flow and force.
Q: How does tai chi relate to the concept of 13 (five elements and 8 trigrams)?
1. There are many theories on how to relate tai chi to the five elements and 8 trigrams. I believe that the creators and the successors of tai chi have incorporated the general idea of the balance of yin and yang, of elements generating each other and negating each other (in accordance with the essential theory of the five elements). The concept of the five elements and 8 trigrams are the ancient theories of the laws of nature, harmony and balance of the universe. When practicing tai chi correctly, follow the essential principles that have already incorporated in these concepts, I think one can reach as high a level as one wishes without having to specifically study the concept of 13.
2. I found that even the few basic essential concepts such as focus, body uprightness, substantial and insubstantial, moving and generating Jing, awareness of the body movements, and the essential principles are enough to work on. In my personal view, I don't think one needs to relate directly to the five elements and 8 trigrams.
Q: What do you feel are the major influencing factors in the development of tai chi (such as Daoist health exercises, other martial arts, Chinese cosmology, etc)?
1. There are three major influences in the creation with the development of tai chi. These are traditional (prior to the creation of tai chi) martial art, Chinese medicine and Daoism.
2. First, the martial arts. In my article 'Internal,' I mentioned about how some of the tai chi movements and the internal intentions were similar to the training manual of general Jing.
3. Chen Wanting was a well-known martial artist so he must have incorporated a lot of his previous training in creating tai chi.
4. Chinese traditional medicine has a lot to do with Daoism. Chinese medicine is based on the concept of qi-life energy, and the concept of human interaction with the environment as part of the universe. It is interesting to note that the close interrelationship of humans and our surroundings is greatly emphasized by traditional medicine, which is not well emphasized in Western medicine. These concepts are well incorporated in tai chi.
5. The creator and many Tai chi exponents very often quoted Daoist philosophy, the five elements, the 8 trigrams and the I-Ching. The concepts of yin, yang and balance in tai chi are based on this originally Daoism philosophy.
6. There are many other factors relating to the culture and the society as tai chi evolved. My feeling is that, when Chen Wanting first created tai chi, he was growing old and his desire was to maintain his vitality, his strength and longevity. I think that he must have spent some time studying Chinese traditional medicine and incorporated those methods of longevity into the arts. My feeling is that even though tai chi was intended to be and still is an effective martial arts, health was a key element right from the beginning.
Q: Just how is the qi converted to jing and moved in a spiral manner to create the silk reeling jing in the Chen form?
Is this a continuous process from the very beginning and is there qi still in the form or is the qi built up first and then later converted into to the jing? Qi can be moved in a spiral manner but is that really jing?
Qi and jing also would seem to have different movement patterns (qi can be thought of as flowing through the form, like a ball or moving with blood flow [yi moving qi, qi moving blood]) like swimming in water but silk reeling would seem to be more specific mentally and physically, following specific routes rather than general diffusion. Am I wrong in this distinction?
If so then a form such as 36 or 56 could be performed using qi (general energy diffusion) or performed using jing with specific energy flow patterns. My question would then be how do you create this jing in the chen short forms and what patterns does this manifest in? Would an opening move involve the jing moving from the dantian spiralling outward through the limbs, moving and then spiral inward to the dantian again or would it spiral outward, say at the beginning of the form and then be manipulated in a continuous manner before spiralling inward at the closing of the set?
Also would peng jing (chi pressure expanding outward) be needed for the internal manifestation of the jing, or is the spiral jing created the source of the peng? Is there then a combination of general chi diffusion/peng energy in which the jing moves within?
Much of this question is exploration and contains great answers within it. I am going to answer it in a different manner. My answer is intended to provoke more thoughts.
I think qi is like electricity, and jing is the power of electricity as expressed in appliances. Your tai chi practice builds qi, and expresses it as jing when you deliver your force. So there is one kind of electricity but it can be expressed in rotation as a lawn mower, or thrust force like a powered sledge hammer. Qi can be expressed as spiral force or peng force. Although you can have both peng and spiral combined.
My article "spiral force' describes how to shape the spiral force.
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There are four fertile areas of yoga practices that can assist growth in tai chi and qigong: relaxation techniques, breathing techniques, mental concentration techniques and cross-training techniques.
Relaxation techniques: Yoga is rich with ways to learn relaxation. Some of them are verbal cuing, imagination, mantra (use of repetitive sound or verbal patterns), music and mindfulness.
Breathing techniques: There is a science of Yoga called Pranayama. Pranayama teaches breath regulation for controlling energy. Just to mention a few: rapid diaphragmatic breathing for creating heat and physical purification of toxins; complete breathing for entirely saturating the lungs with oxygen and chi; alternate nostril breathing for balancing the nervous system and activating the energy centers such as the ming-men, middle and upper dan tians and meridians( called Nadis in yoga); and, Bhastrika breathing for packing the qi.
Concentration techniques: Since the primary aim of yoga is meditation, as one would expect, there are innumerable practice techniques for mind concentration or mind focus. There's mindful practice, for instance, which simply means to be fully aware of what is going on in your consciousness at a particular moment. To be mindful is to aware without necessarily being in cognitive thinking. It is to attempt to know without discursive thinking. This is just one of many concentration techniques.
Cross training is the practice often used by serious athletes? Often when one practices long and hard a plateau occurs. Boredom sets in and it appears that there's no progress.
It is found in sports science that when one gets to this stage, it is beneficial to go into another activity that has the same basic principles of the activity that is being practiced. For instance, from my long experience as an American football coach, I found that when an athlete reached a plateau that it was helpful to let him play basketball for a while. It broke the boredom of football practice but still allowed the athlete to practice agility, jumping and balancing skills. Using yoga as a cross-training activity can help the serious tai chi practitioner in the same way.
The Purpose and Definition of Yoga
Yoga means to unite body-mind. It also means the discipline or work of Yoga, similar to the meaning of Gong (As in the second Chinese word of qi-gong, gong means the result of discipline or hard work).
The purpose of yoga is, as the great historical Rishi named Patanjali stated: "Yogas-citta-vrtti-nirodhah," which means practice of yoga stops mind-body fluctuations or Yoga reduces disturbances of the body and mind so one can go into deep stillness and silence and contemplate reality.
It's as if we are like a turbulent lake that possesses a great treasure at the bottom. We can't see it because of all the crashing waves, mud and silt roving around and obscuring the vision of the treasure. But when the lake becomes still, calm and clear, then the treasure at the bottom of the lake is revealed.
How Yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong Differ
The primary root of yoga is meditation. The practice of yoga is to quiet the body-mind so one can meditate for long periods of time. All yoga, regardless of style or approach, has meditation as its basic aim.
The primary root of tai chi is martial. Yes, tai chi is also a meditation and a health practice, but still, what influences tai chi strongly is its martial arts roots.
The root of qigong is longevity and health.
How Yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong Are Alike.
Although they are influenced by their basic roots, these disciplines are similar in their principles. "Principle" is defined as an essential truth that acts as a guideline for action.
Based on my sabbatical leave study done in 1997, I have concluded that these disciplines are alike in four basic ways that I call the "ABC'S of Yoga, Tai Chi and Qigong." The ABC'S stand for "A" for alignment, "B" for breathing techniques, "C" for mind concentration techniques, and "S" for spirit.
Alignment. All of the afore mentioned disciplines use the same principles of alignment.
Breathing. Even when a tai chi teacher states that one should breathe naturally or let the breath follow action, that is still a breathing technique. I have an Aikido teacher/friend whom I talked into joining my yoga class and eventually became an yoga teacher. He had taught and practiced Akido for many years. After practicing Pranayama, the yogic science of breath control, he said he was very surprised to discover how much he stopped breathing unnecessarily in his practice, He went on to further state that practicing Pranayama made him acutely aware of his breathing and it helped him to truly let the breath be, the point being that even letting the breath be is a difficult art.
So all of the disciplines use principles of breath regulation A tai chi practitioner might find some of the yoga breathing techniques valuable. To further illustrate, yoga has breathing techniques that are essentially lead-up exercises for control of energy. And of course it is the mind that ultimately regulates Prana or Chi.
Concentration. Meditation is the goal of yoga. Mental quietude is one of the goals of tai chi and qigong. In this area, yoga is rich in techniques. A tai chi and qigong student may find studying some of the many focusing techniques in yoga quite helpful.
Spirit. All of the disciplines are concerned with spirit in both a practical sense as well as an esoteric sense. Either way, spirit seems to be a constant principle. Again, yoga possesses a multitude of varying techniques to allow spirit to come through the practice. My favorite quote is from Chuang Tzu, who tells the story of a prince, admiring a butcher's flawless work. The prince asked the butcher what method he used. "Method?" replied the butcher. "I have no method. I let the Tao come through. I still my senses, apprehend with my whole being, and allow my spirit to work according to its own instinct following a natural line." In yoga, the science of Pratyahara is practicing sense control. To comprehend with your whole being is practicing Dharana, and allowing the spirit to work is Dhyana.
In conclusion I've found in my personal practice that there is much from yoga that has improved or helped me to understand tai chi and qigong. This is also true the other way around. There is much in tai chi and qigong that has improved my practice and understanding of yoga. Yoga is the Great Sister to the Great Brother Tai Chi. They are great partners in the search for excellence in the physical, in the mental and in the spiritual realms of our life.
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- Setting Your Tai Chi Goals
- How tai chi helps Claire Bowmaker's acrophobia
- Report on the January Workshop
- Japanese Tea Ceremony
- Your Health - Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Dahlis Roy's post on the Forum
- Soraya's poem on the Forum
Japanese Tea Ceremony
In September 2002, I was in Japan for one week. Like my practise of tai chi, my interest in tea is deep-rooted, so I took the opportunity to learn more about the Japanese tea ceremony. (I drink Kung Fu tea daily. If you have not read my article on Chinese Kung Fu tea and would like to, click here to read it..)
The tea ceremony originally came from China and is based on the ancient Chinese tea method. Methods that have been changed in China are still retained in Japan. The most notable is the tea in powder form. In the Sung dynasty hundreds of years ago, Chinese tea was no longer made by grinding the tea leaves into powder. The tea leaves were soaked in hot water like normal western tea. However, the Japanese in their tea ceremony use very specific techniques to grind the tea leaves into powder, and mix it with water to make the tea. The tea ceremony is so sophisticated and ingrained into the Japanese culture that it is known as a national culture. From what I learned, I really liked its features, for example:
1. A spiritual emphasis. The host and the guest approach this ceremony with sincerity and a positive spirit of sharing mental energy and understanding. I find that most intriguing, almost like practising Tai Chi with your friends.
2. The thorough preparations. If a person can afford it, he or she builds a tearoom or teahouse just to make tea. Some people have a garden leading to a simple artistic teahouse. I would love to do this. The tearoom has to be set up in a certain way. The host starts by cleaning the tearoom, and by painstakingly setting out the utensils and decorations..
3. The aesthetic value. They take everything into consideration as far as aesthetic value-the way the tea is presented, how the utensils and other objects are displayed, the settings and the environment It's really nice to have your tea served along with the right spirit, right atmosphere, and the right procedure, again, almost like doing Tai Chi in an ideal setting.
While I tried to learn as much as I could about the Japanese tea ceremony, the procedures and the protocol are so strict and complicated that I ended with the impression that just to be a guest, you have to go through a training school to learn the etiquette. As to learning the art of serving tea, there is so much skill involved that it'sa full-time profession for many. In a way, I felt that the many strict protocols of the ceremony hindered free spirit.
Japanese history tells of some tea masters who became so powerful that they became close to the rulers. One of them came so close that he threatened his ruler's power. I have trouble imagining a tea master being that powerful, since I've never heard a martial art teacher in the Chinese imperial court with so much power..
I would love to incorporate some of what I learned in Japan into my art of making tea, so next time you're my guest expect a cup of my Kung Fu tea in my garden teahouse. But don't hold your breath. I have to do my monthly newsletter first.
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Setting Your Tai Chi Goals
My friend Nancy and I were driving to Monterey, California to conduct a workshop when we got slightly lost. We saw our hotel on the left side of the road, but we had no access to it. (You know what the roads are like in the USA.) We ended up going back and forth on the freeway. But we were lucky to have good directions from our local organiser Stephanie, which helped us find our way back. Can't imagine where we would be without those directions.
In life, having a direction, having a goal, is so important. Let me give you an example. Imagine that you are under the desert sun. Now imagine that this desert is oblong in shape. If you close to the edge and if you go one direction, you are close enough to reach the oasis in one day before you run out of water. If you go in any other direction, you would be dead. Without a map, your chances of finding the right direction are slim.
Life is like that. You can't see the edge of the desert nor can you really predict the future. If you don't have a map, you're not going to get where you want to go. Having a goal in life is like having a map. No one gets to some place worthwhile without a goal.
When I learned the importance of goal setting, I started seeing visions of what I wanted to do in life and setting goals become the map to fulfil my vision. Over the last four years, my vision has been to share tai chi with as many people as possible to benefit health. In a short time, I met so many people with the same vision and together we have achieved great things.
Now, looking back on my life, I realize that if I had set goals early on, I would have arrived at the same place in half the time. This experience can apply to tai chi.
What is your goal in tai chi? Is it to become a great martial artist? Is it exercise? Is it for health? No matter what your purpose is in doing tai chi, improving your internal components is going to be vital. Tai chi without internal components is not really tai chi. Without them, no one can reach a high level.
"Internal" has infinite depth. It will keep you interested in tai chi forever. "Internal," doesn't necessarily mean deep and mysterious. An internal component can simply mean being focused, or having the feeling of being mentally well balanced. It can be just being comfortable with your state of your mind.
Suppose you start setting your internal component of tai chi as your goal. Let's say you're working on mental balance. You want to feel comfortable mentally, not stressed or fatigued. It's important to coordinate this balanced mental state with the physical balance of your body and the execution of your movements. Keep this goal in mind whenever you practise. If your body is not well balanced, check if you were mental balanced. Are you more likely to be stressed whenever you lose your physical balance? Focus on your mind being comfortable, well balanced and see how your body works out.*Click here to "how to improve your internal components?"
When you notice your movements are jerky, does it correlate to the jerkiness of your mind? As you continue to keep your goal in mind, you'll see you're your mental balance coordinates with your physical balance. Check how fast you are progressing. Compare this rate to if you had no goal and simply did your best in your practise. Which way would you progress farther, and which way would be more interesting?
Inevitably, your goals for the internal components will integrate with the external. Internal and external are equally important and the ultimate aim should be integrating both. However, if your goal is on internal components, it is much easier to correlate and develop your external components. The reverse-focusing on the external-can make it very difficult to develop the internal. For example, if one starts focusing harsh strength like karate training, it is more difficult to later develop the soft and resilient internal force, whereas a practitioner well trained at internal force can easily develop muscular strength.
If you set your next goal to integrating internal and external components, what do you think will happen to your tai chi? I think you will progress to a higher level much more quickly. Take care to aim at the internal components in every move and that part of the art will improve. A goal helps us to get to the destination, even if we got lost in the way. Having direction is the only way to get us back on track.
* I have written several articles on the specifics of what is internal and how to improve it. With the goal to improve your internal components in mind, these articles may help to locate your the specific internal goal. These are:
- what is internal and how to improve it
- Qi and Quan
- Yi and Quan
- Internal vs Exerternal; which is more important?
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I would like to tell you how Tai Chi improved my quality of life.
I am a 52 year old female. I had my first anxiety attack when I was about 25 then again when I was about 40. At the time, my relationship with my husband was bad and also had family problems. So I started to have panic attacks and acrophobia. When I was about 50, and I went through divorce, my doctor put me on antidepressant medication. I was so bad to the point that I could not drive anywhere longer than 5 minutes away from home, or feel comfortable in a group of people. At night time, quite often, I had these panic attacks so I had to call my family to spend the night with me. During the day, I spent all the time at home.
In February this year (2002) my counsellor advised me to enrol in an exercise class like tai chi to help me to relax. I contacted the local women's health centre and enrolled in a tai chi class 5 minutes away from home. The class was small and had 4 people in it. Later, the class got involved in a community festival so I had to drive for ½ an hour to the new venue and meet new people as the group got bigger.
Throughout the process of learning tai chi, I slowly progressed to be able to get away from the house, be with other people and as I was praised by my teacher and also other people in the class, my self confidence also improved. About 3/12 ago, my antidepressant gradually started to decrease.
At the moment, even though there is a long way to go, I feel the improvement as I feel more relaxed, in control, I can go shopping any time, I don't have a problem being in a group of people. Since February, I have had a few anxiety attacks but not a panic attack.
Claire Bowmaker, flinders, NSW, Australia, November 2002
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In 1998, I began teaching at a Community Center. Gradually, I worked with my students and friends. A group achieved practice skills following, and a few were able to lead the Yang Long Form after a while. What a joy Tai Chi teaching brought me!
Then, in 2000 my husband and I left town. I was uprooted as I left my students for our new location. Every year in April, I visit them and 'lead' them once again. We enjoy a sharing visit, "just like old times."
Last April, after warm up, I faced my students, smiled and called three to come up front "if comfortable." Then, instead of co-leading with them as they expected, I faded into my favorite position behind (not in) the back row. They joyfully led the form while I followed. I could feel them glowing with pride of accomplishment. This was a reunion of Tai Chi friends and best yet, my students were center stage!
Tai Chi teaching brings a balance to my life I cannot find with any other pursuit. I try to emulate qualities in my excellent teachers of clarity, empathy, enthusiasm, humility, knowledge, patience, and sharing.
Tai Chi practice and teaching touches all aspects of my life especially creative work of painting and writing. Enjoy Tai Chi! Dahlis Roy, Lakeshore Tai Chi, Stevensville, MI
Keep up excellent work! Dahlis
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Hommage to the Forum
Lam and friends all share the Qi
Good times, bad times everything is fine
Buttin' heads with Paul from Narwee
More chiefs than Indians indeed
To a country far away Paul is flying
Chiefs and Indians together they push hands
Coming home Paul finds us working
Even Super Moderator's just an ordinary man
That's all about the Tai Chi Forum Family
Practise, breathing and lots more
Isn't this something lovely?
Come share with us the Tai Chi Forum family
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There were 124 participants from HK, UK, Ireland, USA, Korea, NZ and all states of Australia, 21 instructors, 9 classes, 6 evening seminars and huge amount of positive spirit during this week.
The sharing of energy, knowledge and friendship was magical. It was especially gratifying to see everyone in the Sun Style 73 class had learned the set so well. All other eight classes had excellent outcomes, which was well shown by the end of workshop demonstration. All instructors expressed their great satisfaction to see how much everyone had gained from this workshop and also how the participants were motivated, talented, friendly, helpful and willing to share.
For me, the most fulfilling experience was to see how well the classes did that set out to explore the depth of tai chi, because the internal component of tai chi is the most exciting.
We love reading your overwhelming positive feedbacks, and will look into all the suggestions. The workshop photos are posted on the website. If you wish to place an order, please contact us.
I have promised to get the morning tai chi talks together to send to the participants. I've included one of them in this newsletter, the first article, "Setting Your Tai Chi Goals."
Lots happened at this year's workshop. The social dinner was certainly the noisiest and the funniest with some jokes told by unlikely people like Dr Stephanie Taylor. Charles Miller excelled himself bashing the Irish. He tells cruel jokes on poor Murphy!
Also at the social dinner, I announced that Christopher and Jillian from Milwaukee, USA, a couple of younger participants, were getting married on the Monday following the workshop. I announced to everyone that they had known each other only since the previous Saturday. Many people, thinking that I was serious, congratulated them for making their decision so quickly. To set the record straight, Jillian and Christopher have known each other for eight years.
A few of us were invited to the wedding. We celebrated the occasion with a good lunch and tai chi training. This is probably the first wedding ever where the bride and the groom ended up sweating from tai chi training. I would like to take this opportunity to represent, I'm sure, all of you to wish them a wonderful marriage.
Could someone else report on the hard work, the exciting courses, the instructors, the new friends, the recharging of vital energy, the beautiful Sydney, the tranquil St Vincent College, the Sydney by night tour…?
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