December 1, 2009

Knee Health Through Gentle Exercise

More studies show risk to knees. And gentler exercises such as tai chi can be of help.
"Middle-aged men and women may be risking arthritis if they overdo their exercise regime, research suggests.
A US study of more than 200 people aged 45 to 55 and of "normal" weight found those doing the most exercise were the most likely to suffer knee damage. Running and jumping may also do more damage to cartilage and ligaments than swimming and cycling, researchers said."

Read the full story \ BBC 12/1/09

October 20, 2009

No Pain, No Gain: Togetherness Counts

Tai chi players take note! Researchers are finding that athletes do better when training with others. Emma Cohen at Oxford University found that rowers' pain thresholds were higher when working out in a group, as opposed to in isolation. "Data in other studies suggest that co-ordinated physical exercise can heighten social bonds....As the rowers had been teammates for nearly a year it is possible that the mere presence of friends explains the observed effect." (Reported in The Economist, 9/19/09).

October 12, 2009

Getting to Carnegie Hall

Carnegie Hall is presenting a fabulous festival of Chinese culture this fall in New York City: everything from the Shanghai Orchestra to the Zhang Family village band and puppets, Lang Lang to Yo-Yo Ma, urban to rural, secular to religious, traditional to contemporary, art, dance, percussion, pipa, qin, calligraphy, films. Not to be missed!

"Ancient Paths, Modern Voices: A Festival Celebrating Chinese Culture pays tribute to a vibrant culture and its influence around the globe with 21 days of events and exhibitions at Carnegie Hall and partner institutions throughout New York City. It features leading Chinese musicians, including artists and ensembles traveling outside of China for the first time, performing myriad genres of music. This festival also includes traditional marionette theater, dance, exhibitions, and much more—a true immersion into a world that mixes ancient and modern, familiar and new."
For information, see their site.

October 5, 2009

Tai Chi for Dizziness

Dizziness is no fun for those who suffer from vestibular disorders. Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery reports on a study "Tai Chi as a form of vestibular rehabilitation" by Paul S. Lee MD, that used tai chi to help people with dizziness who've not been helped by conventional treatments.

"Researchers conducted a questionnaire study from April 2008 to March 2009 at an outpatient rehabilitation program, utilizing the activities-specific balance confidence scale and dynamic gait index survey, both prior to therapy and at the conclusion of an eight-week course. A total of 21 patients (18 females, 3 males) completed the study to date. Patients reported subjective improvements in their vestibular symptoms. Researchers theorize that the technique may be effective because Tai Chi promotes coordination through relaxation, rather than muscular coordination."

The findings were presented October 2009 at a conference of the American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery.

September 16, 2009

The Brain-Power Workout

Tai Chi for health? You betcha: balance, relaxation, lower blood pressure, coordination...the list goes on. Now here's what one article says: "Studies have long shown that tai chi improves balance. Now research demonstrates it may also protect the area of the brain responsible for the sense of touch. In a recent Harvard study, 50- to 60-year-olds who did tai chi had a more acute sense of feeling in their fingertips, equivalent to that of people nearly half their age." The article offers a one-week "brain-power workout" to help brain function. ("The brain-power workout" India Today 9/16/09).

August 29, 2009

International Taiji Symposium a Great Success

"More than 400 Tai Chi masters, scholars and practitioners from across the world came to Vanderbilt this summer for a special symposium sponsored by the Vanderbilt Center for Integrative Health." Read the article at the Vanderbilt Medical Center's Reporter and a report by a participant at the Yang Family Bulletin Board
. Taijiquan Journal's editor Barbara Davis' findings on creating short forms for special populations was presented.

Tai Chi is "Medicine in Motion"

Around the US, people continue to discover the benefits of tai chi practice. In New York City, there's a plan to "overhaul or build new [seniors' centers], which would offer a range of activities and services, including tai chi classes and bloood pressure checks." (New York Times 8/26/09).

Meanwhile, in nearby Baltimore, the newspaper extolled tai chi in a lengthy article, calling it "medicine in motion. The story in the Baltimore Sun, for the full story that outlines research in the field from tai chi's use in arthritis, fall prevention, Parkinsons, breast cancer, and more. (8/25/09)

August 17, 2009

New Books--August 2009

Two books on taijiquan:
The Complete Taiji Dao: The Art of the Chinese Saber by Zhang Yun (Blue Snake Books). "The dao, a single-edged sword with a curved blade, is one of the most popular weapons in traditional Chinese martial arts. The art of Taiji Dao is a set of skills for using the dao, derived from the popular martial art Taijiquan. One of the most important aspects of Taijiquan practice."

The Philosophy of Tai Chi Chuan: Wisdom from Confucius, Lao Tzu, and Other Great Thinkers by Freya Boedicker and Martin Boedicker(Blue Snake Books) "The essence of Tai Chi Chuan lies in the rich philosophy of ancient China. While most Tai Chi practitioners are aware of the value that studying Chinese philosophy can bring to their practice, it is often difficult to pick out those texts that are most relevant to Tai Chi...."

Two new books from Three Pines Press focus on Daoism:
Beyond the Daode jing: Twofold Mystery in Tang Daoism by Friederike Assandri
"Developing at a time of intense interaction and debate among Daoists and Buddhists, Twofold Mystery integrates many originally Buddhist concepts into a Daoist theory of salvation based on, yet going beyond, the Daode jing. Heir to the philosophical tradition of Dark Learning or Mystery Study as well as to Daoist devotional and immortality schools of the Six Dynasties, Twofold Mystery is key to understanding medieval Daoist thought."
Internal Alchemy: Self, Society and the Quest for Immortality book coverInternal Alchemy: Self, Society, and the Quest for Immortality
edited by Livia Kohn and Robin R. Wang
"Internal alchemy (neidan) has been the dominant system of Daoist spiritual practice since the Song dynasty, when it was defined as the complex integration of multiple forms of Daoist self-cultivation. Its practitioners transform body energies into subtle levels of spirit and pure cosmic being, hoping to find illumination by returning to the fundamental order of the cosmos and in the process reconcile physiological training with intellectual speculation."

August 9, 2009

New Chinese Martial Arts Journal Starts

A new Chinese martial arts journal has recently made its debut. The Journal of Chinese Martial Studies is a twice yearly English-language publication from Hong Kong. Featuring scholar-practitioners such as Ma Mingda, Lam Chun Fai, and Taijiquan Journal advisor Stanley Henning, the journal's first issue features articles on Shaolin boxing, taijiquan, ancient boxing manuals, the archery tradition of the Orochen minority group, and other subjects. Similar in approach to the Journal of Asian Martial Arts in the desire to blend practice and intellectual reflection, this new entry focuses strictly on China. The first issue of the journal is available online as a PDF.

June 19, 2009

Explaining Tai Chi

An extensive article on tai chi in the Oakland Examiner says: "Tai chi may be the next yoga. But for the moment, this Chinese martial art still puzzles most Americans. It's a 3,000-year-old sport without balls, superstars or competition. Old folks do it. The rules are slowness, softness, yielding and letting go. The postures can take years to comprehend. And there are no sexy outfits or accessories to buy. What’s the point?"
Read the whole article here.

June 8, 2009

International Taiji Symposium to be Held

Traditional Tai Chi Chuan:
A View Through the Lens of Science
July 5-10, 2009
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee
In July of 2009, the world’s foremost authorities on the five traditional Chinese Family Schools of Tai Chi Chuan, as well as other top Tai Chi Chuan practitioners and scholars will come to Vanderbilt University in Nashville Tennessee for an international level Tai Chi Chuan Symposium. The theme of this Symposium will focus on bringing together the wisdom of Chinese culture with the precision of modern science through evidence-based academic sessions, Master’s workshops and other special events designed to foster an exchange of knowledge and cultures.
For information visit the website

Books Received May 2009

• The Essence of T'ai Chi Ch'uan: The Literary Tradition, Second Edition; translated by Benjamin Lo, Martin Inn, Robert Amacker, Susan Foe, IRI Press
Tai Chi Chuan: State of the Art in International Research by Youlian Hong; Karger Publishers, 2008
• Seeking the Spirit of the Book of Change: 8 Days to Mastering a Shamanic Yijing (I Ching) Prediction System, by Zhongxian Wu, Singing Dragon
• You Are How You Move: Experiential Chi Kung, by Ged Sumner; Singing Dragon Eternal Spring: Taijiquan, Qi Gong, and the Cultivation of Health, Happiness and Longevity, by Michael Acton; Singing Dragon.
• Meet Your Body: Core Bodywork and Rolfing Tools to Release Bodymindcore Trauma, by Noah Karrasch; Singing Dragon.
• Beyond the Daode jing: Twofold Mystery in Tang Daoism, by Friederike Assandri; Three Pines Press

April 30, 2009

Tai Chi Improves Balance

The scientific community continues to explore tai chi as a theraputic modality. A recent New York Times article reported on a research study involving stroke patients. "While the exercise group showed little improvement in balance, the tai chi group made significant gains when they were tested on weight-shifting, reaching and how well they could maintain their stability on a platform that moved like a bus." (New York Times 4/7/09)

April 26, 2009

New Taiji Park in Ontario

The Peng You Taiji Quan Association in Thunder Bay, Ontario (朋友太極拳協會) has won the designation of their practice area of Marina Park on the shores of Lake Superior as "International Taiji Park." The group was host to the International Forum on Taijiquan in 2006. "Plans are underway to give this area a special visual appeal. Maybe it will be a moongate which frames the Sleeping Giant," the iconic landmass visible from this northwoods town.

April 5, 2009

World Tai Chi Day 2009

World Tai Chi Day is coming up--check your local newspapers or the official site for events, or, lacking any, go out to a park and do some tai chi yourself--help spread the word about this wonderful health-enhancing practice!

Tai Chi, Mastery, and Golf

Did you know that tai chi practice can help your golf game? A Wall Street Journal article recently covered the topic of practice and mastery—and lo, and behold, some golfers are using what they call the "tai chi swing" to help straighten out their golf technique. The slow pace of tai chi helps golfers analyze swings that would otherwise be done at high speeds that don't allow time for observation of accuracy.
Mastery, though, as Malcolm Gladwell says, can take 10,000 hours of practice. Time to start work!(Wall Street Journal 3/19/09)

February 20, 2009

Knee Arthritis Helped by Tai Chi

"The traditional Chinese form of exercise known as tai chi can help reduce pain and physical impairment in people who have knee arthritis, researchers said this week.
In their study, one group of people in their 60s with severe knee osteoarthritis performed tai chi for an hour twice a week for 12 weeks, while a similar group did the same amount of conventional stretching exercises over the same period.
Those who did tai chi experienced greater pain reduction, less depression and improvements in physical function and overall health, researchers led by Dr. Chenchen Wang of Tufts Medical Center in Boston reported at a meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in San Francisco." Read the whole Reuters story at (Image: Andrew Wong/Getty Images)

February 16, 2009

Golf Benefits from Tai Chi

"Golfers hoping to improve their swing could do worse than to try their hand at Tai Chi, according to a Nantwich health expert.
Julia Hudson, a postgraduate researcher at MMU Cheshire, has found that golfers who practise the ancient Chinese art have a better chance of combining power and control in their game....'I recommend Tai Chi because of how it encourages the whole body to work in harmony. Golfers came back with their back pain gone and they also observed that their game had improved by couple of shots per round.'" Read the complete article at Crewe Chronicle 2/11/2009

February 14, 2009

T'ai Chi in the Art Museum

Taijiquan Journal editor Barbara Davis led an overflow crowd of children and parents in a fun set of t'ai chi exercises at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts Chinese Lantern Festival Family Day.
Over 4,000 people attended the day's events which included pipa music by Gao Heng, painting activities withe Bob Schmitt of Laughing Waters Studio (Bob designed and did layout of the print edition of Taijiquan Journal), paper lantern-making, and performances by the CAAM, the Chinese Dance Theater. This annual event is one of the Art Institute's monthly family activities that highlight different parts of the museum's diverse, large collection.