Newsletter #139 - March 2013
Last month I shared with you my story of doing seated TCA with my 91-year-old mother. Thank you for writing to me about how you were moved by my story. Niccola Follett, Falls Coordinator from NSW Health dept, winner of the Innovative Excellence Award by the Tai Chi for Health Institute writes: "I wanted to say a big thank you for your very heartfelt story of your recent time with your mother. What a lovely connection that you described and a time that you will always treasure. I was very touched. We continue to hear amazing stories from our Tai Chi leaders here in Southern NSW Local Health District and the program remains strong…". Thank you Niccola!
I have exciting February activities to share with you: an instructor training workshop and my birthdays in Sri Lanka; recognition of our program by CDC and my special 73 and 36 forms workshop in Zhuhai, China.
Five years ago, in order to improve the level of tai chi for the Tai Chi for Health leaders, I started a special workshop working personally with a small group of participants to explore the depth of the Sun style 73 forms and Chen style 36 forms. Having just completed the fifth workshop of this kind, I feel energized and fulfilled. We had an exceptional experience.
Last year I did the same workshop, in Zhuhai (near Hong Kong), China, and was pleasantly surprised by the positive energy of being in China that I repeated it at the same place this year. The Chinese food and culture subtly and powerfully uplifted the workshop. You can see photos and next month I will publish notes from the participants. Thank you Monika for two perfectly co-ordinated workshops in Zhuhai!
On this note I would like to introduce Veronica Ashcroft, one of the newly trained Master Trainers from the UK. In this newsletter, Veronica talks about how she and her team share tai chi to help others in that spirit of giving. I will share with you more talks from the workshop next month. I will post them online together with video clips when I return home from my overseas trip.
In this newsletter:
- Dr Lam shares his Sri Lanka TCA workshop experience, which coincides with his birthday last month.
Guy Prentice shares his introduction with the tai chi sword.
Dr Lam announces CDC’s recognition of the TCH program. Accepting the efficacy of the Tai Chi for Health programs especially Tai Chi for Arthritis for falls prevention.
- Caroline Demoise continues the conversation about applying what we learn in tai chi to life.
Veronica Ashcroft talks about her involvement in the first ever National Health Service-funded Tai Chi for Health Workshop in the UK
Another poem by Jodie Maloney this month on Cyclone Osward in Queensland, Australia
This Month’s Special:
May 11 - 12, Exploring the Depth of Tai Chi for Arthritis
May 16 - 17, Exploring the Depth of Tai Chi for Arthritis
May 16 - 17, Tai Chi for Kidz Instructor Training
Jun 08 - 09, Tai Chi for Beginners Instructor Training
Many other workshops conducted by my authorised master trainers are listed in Workshop Calendar.
Dr Paul Lam, Director, Tai Chi for Health Institute, Sydney, Australia
My parents left me in China when I was ten months’ old and my grandmother and aunt brought me up. My aunt was a most loving person and always made sure I had a special birthday. Growing up in a Chinese village we used the lunar calendar, which is quite different from the solar calendar used by the western world. In honour of her memory, I celebrate my birthday each year by the lunar calendar. My kids often complain that they can’t remember my birthday because it is different every year. The date does coincide with both calendars once every 64 years. On my 65th birthday this month, the two birthdates happened to be next to each other. Unintentionally, I was conducting a Tai Chi for Arthritis instructors’ training workshop in Sri Lanka. Let me tell you how it started.
I have seen a great deal of kung-fu and Japanese sword play, but when I saw the tai chi sword form at Dr Paul Lam’s very first USA annual workshop, I was amazed at the beauty, fluidity and power of the form. I was hooked! But I was already in a class that year and enjoying it so I promised myself that I would take it someday.
I used the next two workshops to develop my abilities in the Sun 73. Then I started the sword workshops. First the tai chi 32 Sword Form and then the tai chi 42 Sword Form. The tai chi sword took all of the tai chi principles, wrapped them in a package and expressed them through a beautiful weapon. After all, the sword was the premiere weapon for 7,000 years. We do not use it today as a weapon. We use it to extend our chi energy through it and make it a living thing. Some swords are wooden, carefully made from a living tree. Our energy flows through the tree’s grain. Some swords are steel. Steel is taken from the mother earth. It is then masterfully forged and laboriously shaped into a beautiful and awesome implement of power.
Wood and metal are two of the Chinese elements. They are antagonists. After all, doesn't the metal axe cut down the tree? They become brother and sister by the power of the chi we channel through them. I encourage all tai chi players to take up the sword. Not for war but for inner peace.
Dr Paul Lam, Director, Tai Chi for Health Institute, Sydney, Australia
Stanley has worked with Ileina Ferrier, a Tai Chi for Health master trainer, for the last few years. He quickly realized the efficacy of the Tai Chi for Health programs especially Tai Chi for Arthritis for falls prevention. He, along with Ileina, Professors Beverly Roberts and Roy Geib and many of our master trainers, senior trainers, have been working hard to promote Tai Chi for Health to CDC – the Center of Disease Control and Prevention.
Two years ago, the world’s largest fall prevention study (Ref1) by Dr A. Voukelatos funded by the New South Wales Health Department was one of the two studies listed on the CDC official site as evidence of tai chi preventing falls. "The majority of participants were taught the Tai Chi for Arthritis program…" as testified (Ref2)by the author Dr Voukelatos. This study found that recurring falls were reduced by nearly 70%. However, CDC still did not officially list the Tai Chi for Arthritis program as evidenced based. Stanley has never given up; he continues to work with Ileina and Beverly to push our program forward.
One week after Stanley’s email, on February 15, 2013 Margaret Kaniewski, a Public Health Advisor with the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, CDC, wrote to me: “…Attached is a CDC guideline being promoted for Tai Chi as an exercise form to prevent falls among older adults. We are promoting your tai chi programs since you have established manuals and instructor trainings nation-wide. I wanted to let you know we are sharing this with our partners…” A great proactive approach from the world’s most authorative body for disease control (USA governmental body), and a long awaited recognition of the Tai Chi for Arthritis program!
Now that Tai Chi for Arthritis is recognized as evidenced based by CDC for falls prevention, we have more opportunities to help many more people to prevent falls. Tai Chi for Arthritis brings in a lot more benefits than falls prevention, it improves cardiovascular fitness, flexibility and balance, it also alleviates arthritis pain, lower back pain, helps people relax, sleep better and feel better about themselves.
Reference 2: Correspondence with the chief author Dr Alex Voukelatos clarified:’ “Of the 76 Tai Chi programs taught by 22 instructors, 58 (76%) were Tai Chi for Arthritis (TCA) based on Sun style tai chi. They were taught by instructors certified in TCA by Dr. Paul Lam’s Tai Chi for Health.”
Another thing I didn’t know before tai chi enveloped my life is that simplicity has real value. In tai chi you learn how to eliminate distractions by focusing on the present moment. When moving, you focus on feeling each weight transfer, allowing arms to follow waist movement and noticing subtle changes in your body. Eliminating the flourishes, embellishments and exaggerations in life, leaves you with simplicity at the core. Tai chi teaches you to focus on simplicity, harmonize with unfolding events and to create a balance in your life. A poster on the wall in a health clinic I visited said it all. It spoke about how to find simplicity in your life. “Slow down. Imagine doing less. Learn to say no. Follow your heart. Yield to life…” Sounds like a good description of the wisdom in this ancient art when you follow tai chi principles by applying them to life situations.
The seeds for this Tai Chi for Diabetes Instructor and Leader workshop in Dumfries were sewn several years earlier. In 2009, under a programme called Building Healthy Communities, TCD sessions were included in a 2-year study which received funding from the Scottish Government to monitor and evaluate holistic self help strategies for people with long term conditions.
By the end of the 2-year funding period, there were 78 participants regularly attending three weekly Tai Chi for Health and Welbeing classes, with additional short courses, workshops and training days.
The sessions not only developed participants’ tai chi skills, but enabled them to manage their health issues better, combat isolation and build confidence, and become valued members of their community. With demand for tai chi in the area growing, the classes continued “as self-supporting” after the funding period ended, along with a second initiative, Volunteer Tai Chi training.
A year after the study, the Scottish NHS, recognising the value of these two tai chi programmes, and the need for more qualified instructors and leaders, went on to fund Ellen and Nuala’s workshop.
Preparation for the workshop by the participants, two of whom were in wheel chairs, and some of whom had been practicing TCD for up to five years, was impressive. They were keen to add the theory and effective teaching skills to their practice of the form, in particular discussing and exploring appropriate adaptations.
Participants eagerly shared their passion for tai chi and enthusiasm to share their tai chi with a wider community. Their mutual bonding support was tangible, nurtured over the years by additional activities arranged by the instructors and assisted by the participants themselves, such as tai chi Away Days and outdoor Tai chi sessions.
One of the participants, who qualified earlier as a facilitator says of his journey:
“Prior to being diagnosed with a Long Term Condition, I was employed as a long-distance haulage driver and my work kept me very active. Then I suffered a stroke. … I had lost my self confidence and felt stressed … dealing with worries for the future.”
“I was introduced to Building Healthy Communities … and knew then that I had found something that was benefitting me and felt that I wanted to share my experiences with others suffering the same conditions.
“ I have since taken the opportunity to take up new skills … [and] completed 14 months training as a Tai Chi for Health facilitator.
“….. The self help management of the long term conditions programme has given me back a sense of self worth, provided me with skills which will contribute to a new career.”
Responsible for organising the workshop, were the equally passionate, but non-tai chi practicing administrators. They do the institutional negotiations, networking and fundraising, convincing the uninitiated and those ignorant of tai chi, that this is a worthwhile programme to pursue – and raising and delivering funding for it to happen.
I felt I was witnessing something ground-breaking and full of hope for the future, providing a model to be followed by the rest of the nation. A partnership including support and funding from national government, organised by local health professionals, for people with long term health conditions through the vehicle of a Tai Chi for Health programme.
For all present, in different ways, it was a very special and challenging workshop with everyone so engaged, eager to learn and positive.
The rain is coming thats what they were sayingbut before I bloody knew it the trees began swaying
The kids wanted to go swimming, town folk began to pray
It ran a straight line of havoc and destruction.
The river runs a banker all stained with yellow mud
When floods were reaching their heights across the Qld Border
They're looking old and jaded but their hopes haven’t faded
Their way is not the old world way they learn to live and borrow
And deep down in their hearts they hope of something better
They use all their inner strength but only to lose their life
But they all called upon the blessed lord to show his mercy than
Sunshine Coast had a different plan and just fills up with lots of foam
We need to break this drought or the country will be ruin
Till every heart took up the song please stop before it hurts
How people could go without technology and back to history
It put smiles on the surfers and they can’t wait for their first ride
Some angry lips were seen to twitch and some shaded eyes glistened
To stand against the destructive weather you must all stand together?
That kindness, peace and love is something that always lasts
Please don’t look at colour or race Just look upon the helping face.
Thanks to a Sunday school teacher's collection of children's humorous answers written to quizzes in Bible study I have this month's healthy humour. You don't need to study your King James to enjoy the miscues and misspells in the following.
Moses went up to mount cyanide to get the Ten Commandments.
The first commandments was when Eve told Adam to eat
The seventh commandment is thou shalt not admit adultery
Solomon, one of David's sons, had 300 wives and 700
The greatest miracle in the bible is when Joshua told
his son to stand still and he obeyed him.
Joshua led the Hebrews in the battle of geritol
Lots wife was a pillar of salt during the day, but a
ball of fire during the night.
The people who followed Jesus were called the 12
Christians have only one spouse. This is called
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.