December 30, 2008

Random Acts of Coffee Kindness

Remember tai chi teacher Arthur Rosenfeld's "Random Act of Kindness" in diffusing an irate man's temper at a Starbucks? Read about it from Arthur's point of view on the Huffington Post.

December 16, 2008

Tai Chi 2009 Events Planned

It will be difficult to surpass the excitement of the 2008 Olympics in the tai chi world, but several major events are planned.
•The Zhang Sanfeng Festival returns with its usual eclectic mix of classes, June 4–7, 2009, in the east coast of the USA.
•Great Britain will host a variety of European-based teachersTai Chi Caledonia July 3–10, 2009 in Stirling Scotland.
•The International T'ai Chi Ch'uan Symposium will be held July 5–10, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. This event will feature the top masters of all the major lineages: Chen Zhenglei, Yang Zhenduo, Wu Wenhan, Ma Hailong, and Song Yongtian.

Ethel still enjoys a life of exercise

"After more than 40 years teaching yoga and tai chi Ethel Lote is retiring – at the grand age of 88. But the Aldridge grandmother has no plans to give up exercise herself as she knows the benefits.
A nurse during World War Two and a dental health lecturer for much of her life, Ethel was first introduced to the benefits of yoga more than 40 years ago and has practised it, and now tai chi, daily ever since.
The sprightly pensioner is living proof of the benefits. “I only found out about yoga accidentally,” she says.
“I was on a training course and I walked into a lecture on yoga and thought it all made really good sense. So I came back and did some more reading about it and decided to train with the All India Board of Yoga.”
Nearly ten years ago, Ethel also took up the ancient Chinese exercise of tai chi, which is particularly suited to older people. She has been running classes combining the two ever since." Read the complete Birmingham Mail article. (12/16/08)

December 11, 2008

Acupuncture Works?

A recent survey shows that 38% of American adults use "alternative" health therapies. "More than one-third of adults and nearly 12 percent of children in the United States use alternatives to traditional medicine, according to a large federal survey released today that documents how entrenched acupuncture, herbal remedies and other once-exotic therapies have become. The 2007 survey of more than 32,000 Americans, which for the first time included children, found that use of yoga, "probiotics," fish oil and other "complementary and alternative" therapies held steady among adults since the last national survey five years earlier, and that such treatments have become part of health care for many youngsters." See the whole article at Washington Post 12/11/2008

December 6, 2008

Duchess of Cornwall Knows Health Helpers

A recent article reports that the Duchess of Cornwall is considering taking up tai chi or pilates to help guard against the osteoporosis that runs in her family.
"The Duchess, 61, urged mature women to lead more active lifestyles at an exercise class organised by the National Osteoporosis Society (NOS), of which she is president.
The campaign to prevent the bone-wasting condition – which affects one in three women over the age of 50 – is particularly close to the Duchess's heart as it claimed the lives of her mother and grandmother. She yesterday admitted to feeling "quite naughty" about her own lack of exercise.
"I did do a bit of yoga and used to do a lot of walking before I got married but I have let things slide," she said at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead, North London, after watching an instructor put a group of women through their paces at the NOS's recreation club.
"I thought I was doing enough to protect myself from osteoporosis but it seems not. I think I am going to have to make it my New Year's resolution – maybe to do some pilates or even some Tai Chi." The Telegraph 11/20/2008

December 5, 2008

T'ai Chi for Lowering Blood Sugar

Concerned about blood sugar?
"Regular walking can help control blood sugar, lower blood pressure and fight metabolic syndrome. But what if you don’t enjoy walking or the weather is too cold or too hot? Are there gentle indoor exercises that can help?
A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that regular practice of the gentle, relaxing exercises of tai chi and qigong may do the trick.
Eleven participants, aged 42 to 65, with elevated blood sugar attended tai chi and qigong exercise training for one to one and a half hours, three times a week, for 12 weeks. They were also encouraged to practice at home. Most people stuck with the program and the tai chai and qigong health benefits were evident. Body mass index, waist circumference and blood pressure showed significant improvement and there were small improvements in fasting insulin and insulin resistance." See full article at Stop Aging Now, 11/11/2008.

October 28, 2008

Lecture on Tai Chi History & Cheng Man-ch'ing

“Cheng Man-ch’ing:
Master of Five Excellences”

A talk by Barbara Davis
Director, Cheng Man-ch’ing Biography Project and editor of Taijiquan Journal
Saturday, November 8th, 2008, 6:30 pm
Sun Gallery, 4760 Grand Avenue South
Learn about this intriguing master of painting, calligraphy, poetry, medicine, and t’ai chi. Cheng is most well known for his role in the spread of t’ai chi into the US in the 1960s. Come explore his life, his dreams, and his prodigious talents. Slides and movies of his artwork and t’ai chi will also be shown .
For further information, read the project blog, call 612-822-5760,
or email editor"at"

October 6, 2008

Taiji is True North?

Ever wonder why we face certain directions in taiji practice?
One might argue that it's because "taiji" can refer to the Pole Star, or because the Chinese emperors faced south, or because of the placement of a courtyard used for practice, but the real reason might be in our bodies.
A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences "Direct observations of roe deer revealed that animals orient their heads northward when grazing or resting. Amazingly, this ubiquitous phenomenon does not seem to have been noticed by herdsmen, ranchers, or hunters. Because wind and light conditions could be excluded as a common denominator determining the body axis orientation, magnetic alignment is the most parsimonious explanation. To test the hypothesis that cattle orient their body axes along the field lines of the Earth's magnetic field, we analyzed the body orientation of cattle from localities with high magnetic declination. Here, magnetic north was a better predictor than geographic north."

{Picture} Rob Taverner in the UK practicing taiji in front of his herd.

October 3, 2008

Think Twice About Incense

Incense is a mixed blessing, it turns out. Used by some as an aid to rituals or mental focus, heavy use of incense is now linked to some respiratory cancers.
A recent study at the Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen followed 61,000 Chinese in Singapore for twelve years, and found increased risk of certain types of cancers. This is further exacerbated by cigarette smoking. (Reported in Cancer October 2008.)

August 18, 2008

Dressage the Tai Chi of Olympic sports

The New Zealand Herald reports that dressage—the "ballet" of horse training featured at the Olympics—is most like t'ai chi ch'uan. It is a sport that involves balance and flexibility, responsiveness and grace.

"For someone brought up on rugby, cricket, basketball, tennis, and boxing this one takes work to grasp its niceties. I didn’t get it, until I realised it is actually Tai Chi with four legs, six if you count the rider....[it] is slow, detailed, and requires utter concentration." (Denis Edwards New Zealand Herald 8/10/08; painting by Xu Beihong).

In a related topic, the Summer 2003 issue of Taijiquan Journal featured three articles about t'ai chi ch'uan and horses:

•"The Taiji Horse Riding Form" by Michael Stenson, a horse trainer
•"The Cauldron and the Horse: Internal Cultivation and Yijing by Zhongxian Wu, qigong master
•"All Stances are Horse Stances: Taijiquan's Equine Ancestry" by Paul Magee, acupuncturist

Limited quantities of back issues of Taijiquan Journal are still available at an Olympic special of $5 each (US orders). Offer good until September 17th, 2008. See our website for further information.

August 9, 2008

Olympic Pageantry Features 2,008 T'ai Chi Performers 太極拳在中國奧林匹克

The story of the 2008 Beijing Olympics is being told from many viewpoints: the athlete (as one would expect); the political and economical significance of China's rise (certainly not the first time in its long history); and the cultural—witness the opening ceremonies filled with symbolism, history and pride; not to mention the local, everyday scenes. T'ai chi is being featured both in the ceremonies and the neighborhoods as exercise, embodiment of culture, and as martial art.
The China Daily (中國日报) gives a wonderfully detailed description of the whole Opening Ceremony program. Here's the excerpt about the art of t'ai chi:

"Nature: You can interpret this number as a call for biological protection, but that would be reading too much pragmatism into it. It is about man's relations with nature, embodied in the movements of tai chi. It expounds on the philosophies from The Book of Changes, which contains an ancient system of cosmology intrinsic to Chinese cultural beliefs. The cosmology centers on the ideas of the dynamic balance of opposites.

“The 2,008 performers doing tai chi in a circle that surrounds a rectangle is an epitome of the notion of "heaven is round and earth is square". And the boxing itself perfectly illustrates Lao Tzu's teaching -- 'The soft and the pliable will defeat the hard and strong.'" China Daily

Here are other observations by reporters on the scene:

"Clearly the organizers of the opening ceremonies in Beijing spared no expense in putting this spectacle together. The Tai Chi sequence alone was a marvel of synchronization, athleticism and grace." said the Edmonton Sun.

"Amid forests of sheer fabric on which shifting images of water and light skittered, Tai-chi dancers offered a glimpse of a peculiarly Chinese environmentalism – the unity of mankind and nature." Wall Street Journal

"China hails the Beijing Olympics as the fulfillment of its "100-year dream", a slogan that harks back to a time when China was "the sick man of Asia" and looked to sport to help it return to its former status." Reuters

"You never have to travel a million miles to get cool martial arts in China - kung fu was a major feature, despite China's failure to have it installed as an Olympic sport. The sight of thousands of white-gowned tai-chi experts going through their paces was impressive." Variety

For those inspired by the Beijing Olympics to take up t'ai chi, use the links to the right to find t'ai chi groups near you.

August 2, 2008

China Steps up to Olympic Plate

"WHEN YOU MENTION the Olympics in Beijing, there is a Chinese proverb you are likely to hear from smiling retirees practising their tai chi early in the morning in the city's lovely parks, or from hungry bureaucrats scoffing noodles in a bustling jiaozi restaurant, or even from the migrant workers from Sichuan and Anhui building the new megalopolis. It is "bai nian bu yu", which is best translated as "We've been waiting 100 years for this". The 2008 Olympic Games are China's big coming-out party and everything is going to work, no matter what." Read the full article at: Irish Times 8/2/08

T'ai Chi Helps Dental Workers

"I was exposed to Chinese martial arts as a child. In my small rural community, our family shared a common alley with a grandmaster of kung fu. I listened as people spoke of the grandmaster and his secret. Students would come in hopes of learning this elusive chi (internal energy) from him, and I watched while he effortlessly bounced and threw his students. I knew this elderly Chinese man — this Kung Fu Grandmaster — as gentle and soft spoken, with an indescribable presence. Even now, I remember how intrigued I was with his inner calm and centeredness....From the day I started practicing tai chi, it felt familiar. Surprisingly, while practicing clinical dental hygiene one day, it came to me — the principles of tai chi are applicable to the practice of dental hygiene. A knowledge and practice of tai chi might help dental hygienists work effortlessly, manage the demands of ergonomics, and cope with internal and external stresses." In this highly informative article for dental workers by Carol Lee, RDH, BS, the author outlines the important points of t'ai chi

August 1, 2008

Taekwondo Champ Tries T'ai Chi

"Taiwan's first gold medallist Chu Mu-yen is confident he will retain his taekwondo title in Beijing while girlfriend Yang Shu-chun is hoping for success in the women's competition.'An athlete has to climb up and seek a breakthrough to win and I think tai chi helps stabilise Chu to bring him to the next level,' [coach] Chang said. Tai chi, which is meant to harmonise body and soul with slow and flexible movements, is popular in Taiwan particularly among elderly people."
Chu is dealing with the Olympic pressures with tai chi and staying with his teammates on a retreat to a Buddhist monastary in southern Taiwan. Read the full article at: The Telegraph 7/31/08

July 31, 2008

Exercise by Pill Proxy

Researchers report that they've developed pills that mimic the effects of exercise. Tested on mice, the pills "reproduce many of the biological benefits of exercise, helping cells burn fat better and boosting endurance, said Ronald Evans, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute researcher at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California. One of the pills may some day help people enhance their exercise or training, while the other might be more suited for couch potatoes who need to kick-start themselves, Evans and colleagues reported on Thursday in the journal Cell."
Of course, they've already developed a way to test athletes for the presence of the drug. Read the whole article in Reuters 7/31/08.

July 25, 2008

Wheelchair Tai Chi Olympic Hopeful

"More than 1,000 Chinese people in wheelchairs hope to demonstrate a new activity at the summer Olympic or Paralympic Games in Beijing this summer: wheelchair tai chi. Led by University of Tennessee at Chattanooga anthropology professor Zibin Guo, the demonstration is designed to show the world that wheelchair tai chi can boost strength, relaxation, flexibility and confidence for people with physical disabilities."

Free wheelchair tai chi classes as part of a research project will be offered at Siskin Hospital, and co-sponsored by UTC, and will "measure the effects of tai chi on participants’ breathing, heart condition, psychological functioning, and ability to cope."

“People in wheelchairs often feel confined. Tai chi, with its circular movements, creates a sense of infinite space. And the gentle movements improve circulation and mobility,” Dr. Guo said." Read the complete article at the Chattanooga Times Free Press (6/26/08)

July 15, 2008

Books and Media Received

Chen Style Tai Chi Progressive Silk Reeling Series, with Jose Figueroa (Dragon Door, 2008)
1--Qi Cultivation and the Secrets of Minipulating Energy
2--The Deeper Secrets of Moving with Strength and Energy
3--Fa Jing and the Secrets of Explosive Power

The Ninja Handbook, by Doug Sarine and Kent Nichols (Three Rivers Press, 2008)
Tai Chi Dynamics: Principles of Natural Movement, Health, & Self-Development, by Robert Chuckrow (YMAA, 2008)
Items may be scheduled for review in our newsletter.

June 27, 2008

Summer Events

The National Qigong Association annual conference will be held August 8–10, 2008 near Baltimore, Maryland. This year's theme is "Qigong: Embracing Healthy Change." Speakers include Kevin Chen, Ph.D. MPH. an associate professor in the Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Chen researches substance abuse and efficacy of Chinese energy therapy for treating osteoarthritis and addiction. Introductory keynote will be by Thea Elijah, former Director of the Chinese Herbal Studies Program at TAI Sophia Institute and at the Academy for Five Element Acupuncture. She specializes in principles of energy medicine in a cross-cultural context, with a particular emphasis on heart-centered healing.

June 18, 2008

Tai Chi Keeps Pace with Olympics

Despite China's woes this year—earthquakes, weather, viruses, protesters—Olympic excitement is building. Yet with all of the attention on Olympic sports and the glamourous features of newly rebuilt Beijing, many news outlets are also reporting on the quieter, normal back-street areas, and on traditional activities such as tai chi. As one reporter writes, Jingshan Park near the Forbidden City "provides excellent views of Beijing and an introduction to China's slower passions — bird rearing, tai chi and long, leisurely strolls."Atlanta Journal Constitution

Tai Chi for Pain Conditions

Tai chi is being explored in a study at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences by pain researcher Pao-Feng Tsai.
"Imagine being in pain and not being able to tell someone. You may be able to speak but no longer can form the sentence to communicate how bad you feel. Many people with advanced Alzheimer's are in this Twilight Zone, making it difficult for health professionals to detect their pain and leading to underreporting or overmedicating....In a quiet, windowless room at UAMS, they are testing the obvious but unproven theory that gentle exercises tailored for someone with memory loss can reduce pain and delay cognitive impairment. Seven study participants, most in their 70s, follow the lead of certified Tai Chi instructor Nola Ballinger as she takes them through modified movements of the Chinese martial art. The sound of a single flute comes from a boom box, and cool air whooshes through the air ducts. Think about a needle going through cotton, Ballinger tells them. You want it to be smooth and soft.... Left foot forward. Right foot forward.... Now wave hands in the clouds." Study results will be available late in 2009. UMAS

May 8, 2008

Tai Chi Featured on NBC News

NBC is running a series this week The Mind-Body Connection" on the Nightly News. The series features tai chi, acupuncture, food, massage and more. Dr. Shin Lin of UC-Irvine discusses with them researcch he is doing about the efficacy of tai chi practice in the areas of complementary and alternative medicine, mind/body signaling, qigong, tai chi, acupuncture, and exercise physiology.

For further information on research about tai chi, see our links column at the side.

April 23, 2008

Taijiquan Journal at Twin Cities World Tai Chi Day Event

Taijiquan Journal will be at the Minneapolis-St. Paul-area World T'ai Chi Day celebrations at Normandale Community College on Saturday, April 26th, 2008, from 9–1. Editor Barbara Davis will give a talk on the I Ching (Yijing), the Chinese Book of Changes. Come visit Taijiquan Journal's booth, where you'll be able to purchase back issues, books, and other items, including "I Love Tai Chi" bumperstickers. See the website for the program schedule.

April 16, 2008

Tai Chi Caught in Olympic Torch Political Crossfire

A conflict erupted between Tai Chi enthusiasts promoting Olympic good will on the San Francisco leg of the Olympic Torch Relay and pro-Tibetan protesters. For the complete story, see Mercury News.

Farmer Ch'i? Tai Chi Practice Helps Cows Produce Milk

Reminsicent of Chinese health exercises for farmers developed in the early PRC, the Federation of Organic Milk Groups through their website "Love Om" in the UK has posted instructions for tai chi exercises that farmers claim increases by 10% a cow's milk production. As one of the farmers says, "The happier I am, the happier the cows are. And the happier they are, the more milk they produce."
The movements, grouped by day of the week, are adapted to Western sensibilities using such names as ‘Lazily Buttoning Overalls', adapted from ‘Lazy about Tying Coat' (Lan Zha Yi).
The accompanying music however, is thoroughly Chinese, rather than fiddle and fife or bagpipe. BBC News, 4/14/08

April 3, 2008

Tai Chi Helps With Parkinson's Disease

"Tai Chi improves balance and mobility in people with Parkinson disease" is the title of an article in Posture and Gait M. E. Hackney, and G. M. Earhart that describes the use of tai chi on balance, gait, and mobility for helping people with Parkinson's disease. Subjects showed improvement on numerous tests, including backward walking. An interesting thing to note is that neither the tai chi group or the control group improved on forward walking or one leg stance test. (April 1, 2008). Author Hackney has also done research on the use of tango dancing for the same population.

March 31, 2008

All the Chi in China

An admirably indepth and lengthy look at the morning taiji scene in Beijing's parks by Stanley Stewart of the Sunday Times in London:

"T’ai chi is illustrative of what is so different about Chinese exercise. There is lots of mental concentration and very little sweat. Exercise is elegant, graceful, almost sedate. Not for the Chinese the muscle-pumping of the gym, the slog of the jogging track. Nobody here is going for the burn. Instead, it is all about balance and concentration and flexibility. In a western fitness programme, t’ai chi would register only as an elaborate warm-up, a series of stretching exercises. In China, it is the main course, because it involves thought as well as movement." (See the full article at Times UK Online edition 3/08/08).

February 18, 2008

Taiji for Parkinson's

Doctors at Mass General Hospital are warming up to taiji as a therapy for their patients with Parkinson's disease.
Over 1.5 million Americans have the disease which causes involuntary and rigid movements. Taiji helps by keeping the muscles relaxed and loose, and improving balance. Read more....

February 3, 2008

Chinese New Year Back Issue Special

Deepen your practice of taijiquan (t'ai chi ch'uan) with Taijiquan Journal. Our back issue special includes all eighteen issues of the print edition for only $99 plus shipping! These timeless magazines include how-to articles, history, translations, book reviews, interviews, art, and our unique cartoon "The Yang and the Rootless" by New York Times bestselling author-illustrator Jackie Urbanovic. Articles include:

• Al Chungliang Huang Interview
• "No, Mom, We're Not a Cult" by Ben Harrison
• Zhongxian Wu on The Yijing and Horse Stance
• Biography of Wu Tunan by Harold Lee
• Art, photography, and writing by David Chen
• Taiji history with Stanley Henning
• Maggie Newman on Teaching
• Ju Ming, Taiji Sculptor by Cheryl Powers
• Bataan Faigao on Buddhism and Taiji
• Huang Chien-liang on Health
• Chen Weiming's Introduction
• Questions and Answers with Huang Sheng-Shyan
• Theory and Technique with Li Ya-shwan, Liu Hsi-heng, Dong Yingjie
• Plus, the taiji poetry and literature of Allen Ginsberg, Henrik Ibsen, Mark Strand, Bill Holm, Mose Allison, Lynn Sharon Schwartz, and "The News from Lake Taijiquan" by Barbara Davis

Offer good until February 29, 2008.

All eighteen back issues are $99 plus shipping, total of $110
(US orders. Contact us at editor(at) or call 612-822-5760 for international rates).

Books and Media Received February 2008

Recent releases of books and media include:

Cheng Man-ch'ing: The Master Tapes a documentary style four-hour DVD collection of footage shot in Cheng's New York School in the 1960s (Mastedon Productions, 2008).
Journal of Asian Martial Arts features a landmark article by Douglas Wile on "Taijiquan and Daoism from religion to martial art and martial art to religion."

January 26, 2008

Taijiquan Classics Garners Review

Taijiquan Journal editor Barbara Davis' book The Taijiquan Classics: An Annotated Translaton is reviewed by Chinese martial arts historian Stanley Henning in the Fall 2006 issue (published Fall 2007) of the prestigious China Review International. He writes, "Taijiquan, as we see it today, did not develop in a vacuum, but reflects developments in one style of Chinese boxing under conditions that influenced all the Chinese martial arts, to one degree or another, over the past 300-plus years. Chen Weiming (1881–1958) helped twentieth-century Chinese taijiquan students gain a better understanding of its concepts and dynamics. Barbara Davis has placed this in context, and through her translation, made it available to a global audience in the twenty-first century....Davis' chapters on the language and literature and ideas in the taijiquan "classics" provide the "icing on the cake"—the insights into Chinese culture, from which to savor her translations....I wholeheartedly recommend this book not only to taijiquan practitioners but also to anyone interested in Chinese martial arts and their place in Chinese culture."

Signed copies of the book are available; write to editor "at" for ordering information. For those who already own a copy of the book, an errata page can be found at the The Taijiquan Classics website.