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. Maggie, 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.

Maggie'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," Maggie 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 Maggie 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.

January 3, 2019

Human Beings Exercise!

In an extensive article, the Guardian talks about the history of excercise, why we need it, lifestyle change, technology and more:

Our relationship with exercise is complicated. Reports from the UK and the US show it is something we persistently struggle with. As the new year rolls around, we anticipate having the drive to behave differently and become regular exercisers, even in the knowledge that we will probably fail to do so. Why do we want to exercise? What do we expect it to do for us? We all know we are supposed to be exercising, but hundreds of millions of us can’t face actually doing it. It is just possible the problem lies at the heart of the idea of exercise itself.