May 18, 2018

The Washington Post reports on the heightened awareness that top players like LeBron James use in playing basketball, chess, and other endeavors, such as t'ai chi. It involves how the brain maps spaces around us.

"Most magical of all is what’s required to build those spatial maps in James’s head. In 2014, researchers John O’Keefe, May-Britt Moser and Edvard Moser won the Nobel Prize for explaining how the brain navigates. They answered a simple but profound set of questions: How do we perceive position, know where we are, find the way home? They discovered the brain’s “inner GPS,” that makes it possible to orient and plan movement. O’Keefe found that a specific cell in the hippocampus throws off a signal to mark a specific place. The Mosers added to this by showing that neurons in the entorhinal cortex fire in fields with regularity. When they drew lines corresponding to the neuronal activity, here is what they saw: a grid. LeBron James has a geometric projection in his brain that acts a computational coordinate system. And so do you."

April 27, 2018

World Tai Chi Day April 28

Join millions of people around the world in celebrating World Tai Chi and Qigong Day! At 10 a.m. local time, groups and individuals will bring a public face to these ancient health-enhancing practices. For more information, visit the World Tai Chi Day site. 

November 12, 2017

Never Too Late to Start Exercise


"It’s never too late to start working out, says Justin Mullner, a D.C. sports medicine doctor. “You can see dramatic benefits from exercising in older adults,” Mullner says. These benefits include prevention of osteoporosis and muscle loss, as well as improved blood pressure and blood-glucose levels.
Government guidelines suggest adults over 65 should get at least two and a half hours of moderate exercise per week (brisk walking, for example) and do muscle-strengthening activities that work all major muscle groups twice a week."

Read the full article in the Washington Post.

September 5, 2017

Tai Chi for Millennials!

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CNN reports that millennials are seeing benefits of tai chi practice for stress reduction. Locked into leaning over a computer for hours in stressful environments, they are learning to loosen up with this ancient Chinese art. "I live in Southern California, so driving on the freeways, it can be tempting to rush through traffic and go as fast as you can," one interviewee said. "But since I've been doing tai chi, I've been able to stop and pull back and just be like 'all right, here I am in the flow. I'm going to go with it, and if it's slow, that's OK.' "
Read the article here.

April 26, 2017

Book Review: The Tao of Tai Chi: The Making of a New Science by Bill Douglas

The Tao of Tai Chi: The Making of a New Science

Bill Douglas
SmartTaichi Publishing, 2016
Paperback, 246 pp
ISBN 978-1537117935

The Tao of Tai Ch
i is a very informative, personal, and eclectic book perched on the “boundary” between science and spirituality. Half philosophy, half autobiography, the book gives insights into one man’s journey with taiji (tai chi).

Author Bill Douglas is known to many as the founder of World Tai Chi and Qigong Day, which began in 1999.
For those who are curious about the event’s origin and founder, this book will introduce the thinking and motivation behind this labor of love that has helped spread taiji around the world. Douglas is also author of widely selling The Complete Idiots Guide to T’ai Chi and Qigong (Alpha, 2012).

The Tao of Tai Ch is written more as a conversation with the author. In essence, it is organized as a flow of topics, eschewing standard book formating and page numbers.

Blending of practice into daily life is a given for Douglas. Going to the supermarket becomes a lesson in letting go and seeing the beauty of the universe:

“If I rush into a supermarket I am in a Yang state of mind. I am on a mission with a set of tasks I must perform, holding them, sometimes squeezing them in my heart and mind. However, when I sit in my car before entering the store and ‘breathe’ and ‘let go,’ and fall into that Yin state where my mind lets go of mental control (and my knowing awareness allows the light of the universe, the lightness of the universe, to expand through it), then my spine and nervous system’s sensory awareness lets go of trying to feel or trying not to feel....

“I feel the cool air conditioner on my face as I walk through the doors of the supermarket,. I see the extraordinary beauty of the eggplant’s purple majesty, succulent and massive in its glory. The golden yellow of bananas and peppers, the smells of fruits and flowers...

“I still get things I need done, but it is a completely different reality now.”

This is an inspirational book suited for all readers.

April 21, 2017

World Tai Chi Day April 29, 2017

Join with others around the world to celebrate World Tai Chi Day, April 29, 2017. This fun annual event begins at 10 a.m., and swirls around the world following the sun and clock. Visit their site to find information about events in your area and resources about tai chi and qigong.

November 26, 2016

Review: Concepts for Taiji Partner Training-Dalu: The Four-Corner Push-Hands Training Method

Concepts for Taiji Partner Training-Dalu: The Four-Corner Push-Hands Training Method by Stephen Goodson and Billy Fox
CreateSpace, 2015
paperback, 68 pp
ISBN 978-1508941224

This slim, succinct volume, Concepts for Taiji Partner Training-Dalu, presents a moving-step sequence related to the “Four Corners” section of solo taiji practice. Dalu, or “Great Rollback,” serves as a complement to typical Tuishou (Push Hands). Tuishou relies on Ward-off, Rollback, Press, and Push, and is most often done with fixed steps. On the other hand, Dalu encompasses Split, Pull, Shoulder, Rollback, and uses moving steps.

After some introductory material, the authors present the solo practice of Dalu, and then its two-person practice. These are followed by application in the form of tifang (uprooting) and “The Game” of how to play with Dalu. Practice and theory are nicely blended, and throughout the book, adherence to the taiji principle of softness is emphasized. “The two-person exercises are akin to practicing tennis with a friend, rather than competing in a tennis match with an opponent.... The cooperative spirit cannot be overstated; competition changes the exercise into a crude wrestling match, which is useless, and your training will be in vain” The authors acknowledge their debt in these concepts and techniques to their teacher Robert Smith, a leading student of Cheng Man-ch’ing (Zheng Manqing).

Concepts for Taiji Partner Training-Dalu is nicely formatted, with clear photography, descriptions, footcharts, and reference materials. It is clearly enough written so that newcomers to Dalu practice will benefit, and those who are more experienced will certainly gain new insights.