March 26, 2011

World Tai Chi and Qigong Day

People around the world will gather in local parks and gyms Saturday, April 30th, 2011 to celebrate World Tai Chi and Qigong Day. This annual grassroots event helps build awareness of tai chi and qigong practice, and provides students and teachers with a chance to mingle with fellow practitioners.
Tai chi (taiji) has its roots in Chinese martial arts traditions, and early on, became known for its health benefits. Its practice spread throughout China in the early twentieth century, and by the 1960s, began to spread rapidly overseas.
Western medical research has affirmed tai chi's benefits for a wide range of health and wellness quests: practice of tai chi--and its sister art, qigong (ch'i-kung)--improves balance, lowers blood pressure, diminishes symptoms of Parkinson's, MS, depression, shingles, and much more.
Just as important, though, is that tai chi and qigong are simply enjoyable to practice!

March 16, 2011

Low-tech Play Still Popular with Children

Do you wonder about kids and the onslaught of technology and how it will affect kids, creativity, and play? "Children still enjoy playing traditional games like skipping and clapping in the playground despite the lure of mobile phones, computer games, and television, a study published on Tuesday found.
Playground games are 'alive and well ... they happily co-exist with media-based play, the two informing each other,' it said."

The two-year study by researchers at the Universities of East London, Sheffield and the Institute of Education was titled "Children's Playground Games and Songs in the New Media Age."
An interesting side-project: the British Library is collecting "oral histories" archive of childrens' games, and invites submissions of films and letters. (Reuters carries the full report.) It seems that this bodes well for the future of tai chi and other movement traditions.

March 14, 2011

New Tai Chi Books

 Three useful new books give tai chi practitioners interesting perspectives on practice from a very practical angle, with much attention to body mechanics.

The New Rules of Posture: How to Sit, Stand, and Move, by Mary Bond (Healing Arts Press, 2007). The author, a movement therapist with a background in dance and Rolf, presents a very accessible approach to understanding and correcting one's posture. This book will appeal to anyone who experiences postural problems or pain, or for practitioners. It will be helpful to tai chi teachers in analyzing structural problems that students commonly face.
A Tai Chi Imagery Workbook: Spirit, Intent, and Motion, by Martin Mellish (Singing Dragon, 2011). This compendium supplies tai chi enthusiasts with a wealth of ideas and images to use in practice. Good for self-study as well as for teachers, this book is a welcome and innovative addition to everyone's tai chi library. Mellish, who has a background in mathematics, uses such things as fractals--in easy to understand terms--to describe concepts of movement. The wide-ranging and always interesting material is presented in  text, drawings, and photographs.
Robert Chuckrow's Tai Chi Dynamics: Principles of Natural Movement, Health, & Self-development (YMAA, 2008) approaches tai chi in a similarly analytical manner as Mellish's book, however Chuckrow's is from a more intellectual view. In addition to details of body mechanics, he has included insights and techniques gained from his studies with Cheng Man-ch'ing (Zheng Manqing)