July 17, 2019

Tai chi for Millenials

Millennials are taking up tai chi to reduce stress and become more "grounded."

"Computer tech people, they love tai chi. It's a good destresser for them: sitting hours behind a keyboard, hunched over doing programming," Dunn said. "A lot of these people are more introverted. They like that gentle nature of tai chi that doesn't have sparring and hitting bags."

....At the end of the tai chi class on Long Beach's Signal Hill, York says he brings his practice with him everywhere he goes.
"If I'm feeling agitated, it's a good lesson for me to remember to slow down and tune in with my breath. I do tai chi to get back into myself and to my center, because throughout the week, the world will pull us in different directions," York said. "I think tai chi is great for younger people because it forces you to disconnect from the world around you." Hoover agrees. "We all need a practice, whether it's tai chi or something else, that allows us to slow down." 
Read the whole article at CNN.

June 10, 2019

Taijiquan Teacher's Book on "Voices of the Heart"

Voices of the Heart by Ed Young Now Out


“In this deeply personal book, artist and author Ed Young explores twenty-six Chinese characters, each describing a feeling or emotion, and each containing somewhere the symbol for the heart. He combines visual symbols of the West in the same manner the ancient Chinese used in composing their characters, focusing on characters that contain the heart symbol. The seal style of Chinese calligraphy that he employs is approximately 2,500 years old. Here it serves as a bridge between our contemporary selves and the most ancient Chinese pictures and symbols. Through stunning collage art that interprets the visual elements within each character, Young uncovers layers of emotional meaning for words such as joy and sorrow, respect and rudeness. He invites children to probe the full range of their own emotions, and gives parents, librarians, and older readers a context for discussing ethics and for examining the similarities and differences between old and new, East and West.”
This is a reissuing of the book that first came out in 1997 from Scholastic Books. Now available from Seven Stories Press.
“Ed Young was born in Tientsin, China, and learned to read and write Chinese as a child. But it wasn’t until he came to the United States and studied Chinese philosophy that he began to rediscover the symbolism and meanings of Chinese characters. The inspiration for Voices of the Heart comes from a Boston Globe Horn Book award acceptance speech he gave in 1990 titled “Eight Matters of the Heart,” which was subsequently made into a picture for the Scholastic book clubs in the same year. Ed Young’s illustrious career as a picture book maker reflects a commitment to balancing the relationship between words and pictures. Through its visual interpretation of the words that define our emotions, Voices of the Heart offers a window into ourselves.”

May 17, 2019

Maggie Newman Videos

If you've never had the privilege of studying with Maggie Newman, this two-disk video compilation will give you a good taste of what it is like. Maggie, as she's known to her students, is one of Professor Cheng Man-ch'ing's most well-known students, having taught in New York City, Philadelphia, Rochester, and Washington, D.C. for many decades. Newman, who has now retired from active teaching, had a professional background in modern dance before becoming involved with aikido, zen meditation, and then t'ai chi. Among her talents have also been performing kabuki dance and brush painting.

Newman's  students have put together a two-disk compendium of her material including demonstrations, teaching, and an extensive interview. On the first disk, "Following the Ch'i," Newman  performs the solo T'ai Chi form and the sword form. She introduces each section with her philosophy intercut with portions of an interview with Joel Sucher. The second disk, "Nourishing the Spirit," includes the full interview with Joel Sucher, rare footage of Newman teaching, highlights from her New York push hands meet, photographs and reflections from one of her many students.
While these disks are but a sampling of Maggie Newman's teachings, there are so many valuable insights to be gleaned that you may want to watch just a few minutes at a time before pressing "pause" to take time to contemplate her words. Highly recommended, even if you do a different style of t'ai chi.

May 11, 2019

Taiji Brushwork!

A great taiji lesson from a master calligrapher Qian Shenbai.
Courtesy Massachusetts Cultural Council, 2013.

May 3, 2019

Zhang Yimou's SHADOW

"[Zhang Yimou's] Shadow doesn't rush to battle, unlike such earlier Zhang martial-arts spectaculars as Hero and House of Flying Daggers. The movie spends about an hour sketching the backstory and observing the machinations that will lead to war....
Zhang, known for the feminism of his earlier films, doesn't give the women central roles, but he does offer some playful tweaks of masculinity. The tai-chi symbol expresses the unity of supposed opposites, including male and female. Shadow doesn't achieve that, but it does harmonize contrary impulses much more deftly than The Great Wall balanced Beijing and Hollywood.

Read the complete NPR review here.

April 3, 2019

Tai Chi for Brain Function Outperforms Other Exercise

tai chi 

Important news about tai chi and brain function. The Harvard Medical School reports that analysis of twenty studies shows that "tai chi appears to improve executive function—the ability to multitask, manage time, and make decisions—in people without any cognitive decline. In those with mild cognitive impairment, tai chi slowed the progression to dementia more than other types of exercise and improved their cognitive function in a comparable fashion to other types of exercise or cognitive training.
In one study, researchers had nearly 400 Chinese men and women with some cognitive impairment perform either tai chi or a stretching and toning program three times a week. After a year, the tai chi group showed greater improvements, and only 2% of that group progressed to dementia, while 11% from the traditional exercise group did. In another study, tai chi outperformed walking. Following 40 weeks of either tai chi, walking, social interaction, or no intervention, researchers compared MRI images and discovered that brain volume increased the most in the tai chi group. In addition, that group also performed better on cognitive tests."

Read the article here and "To learn more about tai chi, its health benefits and how to learn its movements, read Introduction to Tai Chi, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School."

January 9, 2019

Tai Chi for Combat Stress / PTSD

gulfwar_illness_Post-Traumatic Stress
Taiji can be used to deal with symptoms related to combat stress.

".... It was during my first admission to Combat Stress that I was introduced to the gentle art of Tai Chi and Qigong. I always remember seeing an advert on the activities notice board displaying a Tai Chi & Qigong session. I had no idea what it was about but I wanted to give it a try. The session was led by Lesley Roberts ( Lifestyle Tai Chi) taking us through a warm up and then teaching us the first moves of the 18 movement Shibashi Qigong and finishing off with some seated meditation. I had no idea what was going on and just followed the exercises, but I distinctly remember afterwards being so relaxed inside that I fell asleep in my room. It was my first experience of abdominal breathing which I felt a calming effect and to add to this I noticed tension and pressure which I felt in my head had reduced quite a bit.  I carried this on during my stay and took part in these sessions on future visits. It became clear that I felt an improvement both mentally and physically from taking part in these sessions...."

Read the complete article at Taiji Forum.