IMMORTAL ENTERS THE CAVE

IMMORTAL ENTERS THE CAVE
Your right hand in its three-quarter passive position lifts from in front of your head
and goes to the right side, twisting outward until in a full active position, the arm straightening, then sweeps inward in a downward arc on the right side, finishing with the arm extended and the hand in a one-quarter active position, level with and about a foot away from your lower abdomen, your body also twisting to the right. Your gaze is toward the middle area of the sword. The sword tip is level with your right toes, as well as making a diagonal line with your right shoulder. Your right foot at the same time puts its energy into lifting until the sole is over your left knee, the foot flexed downward. As your right hand lifts away from your head, your left hand lifts up until above your head, twisting outward from its full active position to a three-quarter passive position once the arm has reached its final place, the thumb pointing toward your right hand. The posture of your left arm is the same as in WHITE APE HOLDS UP A PEACH. Your left leg is bent, your hips have an energy of shrinking in, your waist has an energy of sinking, and your body leans slightly forward. The completed posture is as in the photo.

sword

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Intention

When practicing Taiji Boxing, it should have a pure naturalness. Instead of emphasizing exertion and emotion, you should emphasize using intention. Using exertion makes you clumsy. Using emotion slows you down. Therefore quelling emotion and letting go of exertion are requirements. Quelling emotion regulates the breath. Relaxing exertion promotes innate strength and inhibits acquired strength. Innate strength is real strength, whereas acquired strength is contrived strength. The former has a smooth energy, the latter a coarse energy. Taiji Boxing focuses on receiving coarse energy with smooth energy. By using the smooth to defeat the coarse, it is therefore not necessary to put forth excessive effort.
The exertion and emotion of external styles of boxing arts is always contrived. A strong person considers difficulty to be ability, thus this type of training is deemed “hard”. If your practice is inappropriate, it will create many bad habits. For one who does hard training every day, his power will be spent as soon as it is expressed, nothing left in storage. Even if he practices for many years, he will progress only superficially, not really building up any inner power at all.
Because Taiji Boxing does not use excessive exertion or emotion, the practice is entirely a matter of intention. If you can use intention, you will be able to conceal power inwardly rather than revealing it outwardly. Energy sinks to your elixir field rather than getting stuck in your chest. If you avoid using excessive exertion and emotion as you practice over a long period, you will accumulate more and more power. And then when you need it, you will be able to wield it freely, without any difficulty and without forcing it.
Consider a laborer, who puts forth effort in his work every day. He always uses all of his strength when he applies it, nothing left over. Therefore after many years of labor, his strength is no greater than when he started. The hard training of external stylists resembles this situation.

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Tai Chi and Qigong Beneficial for Health, Wellness and Reducing Healthcare Costs

New Study: Tai Chi and Qigong Beneficial for Health, Wellness and Reducing Healthcare Costs

Tai Chi and Qigong exercise routines offer a number of significant physical and mental health benefits, published by the American Journal of Health Promotion – AJHP. This finding has significant implication for people’s health and wellness and for reducing healthcare costs.

In this comprehensive study, researchers reviewed 77 randomized controlled trials about Tai Chi or Qigong that were published between 1993 and 2007 and included a total of 6,410 participants. The authors said their review provides a “stronger evidence base” that Tai Chi and Qigong offer benefits in terms of bone health, cardio-respiratory fitness, physical function, balance, quality of life, fall prevention and mental health.

In the exclusive interview by ATCQA with the researchers, co-author Dr. Linda Larkey of Arizona State University College of Nursing and Healthcare Innovation told ATCQA: “although there have been some reviews on specific effects of tai chi and qigong separately, no one has combined the evidence base in this way across practices and across types of outcomes.”


Dr. Roger Jahnke

Dr. Roger Jahnke, the first author of this study, director of the Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi (IIQTC), and also ATCQA advisor and nationally renowned Tai Chi and Qigong expert, further explained the significance of this comprehensive study: “the across-the-board health benefits suggest that Tai Chi and Qigong can be implemented not only therapeutically for individual health conditions but also for holistic approaches for wellness, health promotion, disease prevention.”

“In the diagnostic paradigm, populations must be segmented by disease and risk, whereas in the wellness paradigm, whole un-segmented populations can be addressed”, says Dr. Jahnke. 

 

Dr. Jahnke believes that this helps to eliminate one of the most extreme problems in American healthcare – the rising healthcare costs: “when one patient is seen by one doctor, the cost per person is high. When many people are supported by one Tai Chi and Qigong Teacher, the cost per person is low. All citizens have the common capacity to prevent any number of diseases by taking care of themselves. Teaching a room full of people to take care of themselves is very different from treating a single person who has lost his/her health.”

The authors recommended that, with the magnitude of the research demonstrating the relevance of Qigong and Tai Chi, future research should investigate more of the component aspects of these mind-body and meditative movement practices such as the amount of time required to gain benefit, the frequency of practice, the mix of the key components (movement, breath, meditation), the depth of the mind focus, etc.

The review appears in the  American Journal of Health Promotion.

 

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Taiji Boxing’s movements are slow and even

Movement
Taiji Boxing’s movements are slow and even. External styles of boxing arts may seem to produce quick results, but there are so many bad habits that come with them. In the case of Taiji Boxing, the emphasis is on the liveliness of the muscles and bones, therefore the most important qualities in every movement are softness and mildness. If it is done slowly, then it can be soft. If it is done evenly, then it can be mild.
Furthermore, the various movements all have a round shape, for it is within a circle that the transformations of emptiness and fullness are generated. The art’s limitless subtleties lie within these changes of emptiness and fullness. A beginner may not yet be able to understand this, but if you practice for a long time, you will perform with the proficiency you imagine, and your fascination for what you are doing will have no end.
This art is sufficient for the task of developing the physique, but it is also able to regulate the temperament. Thus it can be said to cultivate both body and mind, and is therefore the most appropriate method of promoting physical education.

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Culture shock in China

Tauranga Intermediate is the largest in the country with more than 1200 boys and girls in 40 classrooms – but seven of the school’s Mandarin language students found going to class in China a bit of a culture shock.

Students Te Wairere Te Moana, Riley Bartosh, Olivia Simmonds, Ngawaka Ririnui, Anne Robinson, Stephanie Austin and Jaimee Eades accompanied a small group of civic leaders to Tauranga’s sister city Yantai in April to celebrate the relationship’s 30th birthday.


Tauranga Intermediate School pupils learning tai chi at Yantai.

The students were also flanked by Tauranga intermediate deputy principal Kathy Colville and the school’s international student co-ordinator Annemieke Hart – and got to attend Yantai No2 Middle School.

The Yantai No2 Middle School has three campuses and more than 10,000 students. In Yantai, school starts at 7.15am and finishes at 5.30pm, followed by hours of homework.

There was also all-school Physical Education every day, with 4000 students running, skipping, and practising tai chi.

Reflecting on the trip at a Tauranga City Council committee meeting this week, Riley thinks the two-hour lunch break could be introduced to New Zealand schools.

As well as performing at a couple of the civic events, the pupils attended school for a week, where in spite of the long school-hours, and the different language, they say they enjoyed school in china.

“The people at Yantai No 2 School were very nice to all of us,” says Te Wairere Te Moana. “They all wanted to talk to us and share their culture.”

Stephanie Austin says on the day they arrived to meet their host families students were lining the paths clapping and cheering.

“There were even kids looking out of windows to catch a glimpse of us,” says Stephanie. “At other times during our time at school many students took the time to acquaint themselves with us.”

During school activities like tai chi, calligraphy, Chinese culture, and physical education, students were always waving at the Tauranga students or coming up to them and giving them gifts.

“I find it hard to believe the students are so nice, considering their school day starts at 7.15am and finishes at 5.30pm,” says Stephanie.

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Teaching Seniors Tai Chi ~ Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei

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Tai Chi Robots

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Chinese martial art Tai Chi has been practiced for over a thousand years. A university in China has held a Tai-Chi competition no similar to any other.

Zhoukou Normal University was the venue for a contest between humanoids developed by the university students.

They showed off their creativity and designing ability through developing novel robots through C programming. In order to make their one of a kind dancing robot more unique, the students decided to break down tai-chi movements and program the moves into the robot.

The science of robotics has advanced significantly in recent years and new robots are designed for various tasks. Competitions that blend entertainment with science, are helping enhance engineering fields.

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Optimal Postural Alignment Using Tai Chi Principles

Posture is the arrangement of body parts in a state of balance that protects the supporting structures of the body against injury or progressive deformity, which is a definition given in 1947 by the Posture Committee of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (Cailliet, R, 1983). By this definition, having and adopting a good posture is therefore effortless, non fatiguing, and painless even when you were to remain in erect position for long periods (Cailliet, R, 1981). Studies have shown that muscles function most efficiently when adopted in such an alignment, where the joints are optimally positioned (Bullock-Saxton, J, 1988).

Optimal Postural Alignment Using Tai Chi Principles

To achieving an optimal posture, it combines both minimal muscle work and minimal joint loading and stress to the joints. The combination of these two factors is important, where in the event when optimal posture is lost (e.g., in slouched standing), although the muscle activity is clearly reduced, there is a significant increase in joint loading, which often will lead to joint pain and soreness.

Joint loading should be minimized over time where articular cartilage gains its nutrition through intermittent loading (Norris, C.M, 1998), and an even distribution of force is preferable as compared to point pressure. Contact pressure is directly proportional to the transmitted force but inversely proportional to area, since pressure is equal to force over area (McConnell, J, 1993). Distributing force over a larger surface area by optimizing segmental alignment, thus, reduces joint surface compression and lessens the risk of degenerative changes to a joint. The objective of any posture should be aiming towards reducing total energy expenditure and lessen stresses on the supporting body structures.

Tai Chi in particular focus and helps to prevent or eliminate injury and pain such as the knee pain, hip pain, shoulder pain, soreness and fatigue which is often due to poor postural habits and sedentary lifestyle. This is achieved by adopting the principle of Tai Chi optimal posture alignment (Figure 1) during both static and dynamic posture in the practice of the Tai Chi routines.
Any change in the alignment of one body segment automatically causes neighboring segments to move in an attempt to maintain stability (Newton’s 3rd law). Therefore, if one body segment moves forward, for instance, another must move backward to keep the body’s line of gravity (LOG) within the base of support for counterbalance. Eventually, this changes in force per unit area will cause tissue adaptation (Norkin. CC and Levangie. P.K, 1992). Changes in serial sarcomere number within muscles, for instance, are adaptations to postural changes over time. The shortening of ligaments leads to reduced range of motion, whereas lengthening ligaments reduce a joint’s passive stability.

Tai Chi apply the same principle of Newton’s 3rd law of equal and opposite reaction during the movement transition to maintain the line of gravity and to obtain maximal stability with minimal joint loading. The extension of the leg is often counterbalance by the extension of the arms in the opposite direction while maintaining the optimal posture alignment.

Static posture is when the body remains stationary and reflects the alignment of the body segments. This is affected by both changes in load distribution across joints and resting muscle length. Such postures include standing, sitting and lying. Dynamic posture is the body position during movement transition and it gives information about body segment alignment, muscle actions, and motor skill. Typical dynamic postures are walking, running, jumping and lifting. You can use descriptions of both position (kinematic) and force (kinetic) to assess posture.

Excessive changes in posture from the optimal position due to poor postural habits during standing, sitting and walking can give rise to asymmetrical tissue tension. Ultimately, tissue failure can result from repeated passive tissue strain. Avoidance of end-range postures that load the soft tissues excessively may reduce short-term pain as well as long-term pain cause by overuse. The cause of many muscle imbalance such as the shoulder (one side higher than the other), back (scapular protruding on one side), lower back (pelvic higher on one side) are often due to poor postural habit which developed over time.

Scannell and McGill (Scannell. J.P and McGill. S.M, 2003) studies subjects who had either increased lordosis (hyperlordosis) or reduced lordosis (hypolordosis). The investigation modified subjects’ posture using 12-week exercise program and demonstrated a change in posture toward a midrange (neutral) lordosis (Christopher M. Norris, 2008).

One of the benefits of Tai Chi exercise program is its ability to help correct poor postural habits and improve overall range of motion when practiced correctly. The combination of the mind and body in Tai Chi helps practitioners to visualize and be mindful of the line of gravity during any movement transition in Tai Chi, thus enabling the practitioners to adopt and habitualise the good posture habit which can be positively transferred to daily activities, since many of the Tai Chi movements are functional movements.

Through continual Tai Chi practice, the overall kinesthetic awareness of the body improves over time where the body becomes more sensitive to the misalignment of any posture and will move in a position to correct this misalignment. This however could not be achieved without proper Tai Chi exercise program.

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Taichi Fitness Components by Coach Yip See Kit,

When we talk about fitness, it actually comprises of many components. In general, the fitness components can be classified into Health Related and Performance Related fitness components.

Health related fitness components are the fundamental fitness components to assess if one is physically fit, examples of health related fitness components comprise of body composition, cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance and flexibility.

Performance related fitness components are more specific to the nature of the sports involved and some of the examples are power, speed, quickness agility, balance, motor skills etc. Certain sports require more priority on one particular fitness components than the other, for instance, in long distance running, cardiovascular endurance is of higher importance while having agility and power is not the main priority. This is important to be taken into consideration when designing the training program so that the correct fitness components are being well developed.

Next we will now look into the different types of fitness components that are specific to Taichi. The main Taichi fitness components involved are cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, balance, motor skills, agility and power.

Cardiovascular endurance is needed for continuous practice of Taichi. Muscular strength and endurance is also needed for executing the controlled movements of the Taichi routines and also the strength for holding the different types of weapons (sword, saber, spear, cuddle etc). Flexibility is needed for the different Taichi movements which require larger range of motions. Balance is also required for stability during movement transition and weight transfer. Agility and power are used in some of the faster and explosive movements such as the Chen’s style Taichi. Motor skills are needed during Taichi movement learning and for executing proper movement sequence to achieve hand and leg coordination.
Having understood the different Taichi fitness components, we need to realize that in order to perform well in Taichi and to benefit most from practicing Taichi; these are the fitness components which we have to work at during our physical preparation phase so that we can apply them into our Taichi practice. Very often, many Taichi practitioners rely on practicing of the Taichi routines alone to train all these Taichi fitness components, which will take a much longer time to develop and even so, the result will not be as effective and many components are still left undeveloped or under developed. Without all these fitness components being well developed, one will find it difficult to achieve the technical requirements in the Taichi routines and to benefit a better quality of life from practicing Taichi.

The next question would then be on how to train these specific Taichi fitness components. One would need to have a proper and systematic training program, preferably under the guidance and personal coaching of well-qualified Taichi coaches, with the relevant sports knowledge and experience in designing such specific Taichi fitness component training.

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Tai chi can help build strength, relieve pain

Johney Yu (2nd R), 75, who emigrated from China 40 years ago, and Diana Yang (L), who emigrated from China 28 years ago, practice tai chi at a daily class in Alhambra, home of many Chinese and Vietnamese migrants, in California August 14, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Johney Yu (2nd R), 75, who emigrated from China 40 years ago, and Diana Yang (L), who emigrated from China 28 years ago, practice tai chi at a daily class in Alhambra, home of many Chinese and Vietnamese migrants, in California August 14, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (Copyright Reuters 2015)

For people with chronic illnesses ranging from cancer to arthritis, tai chi exercises may improve walking, build strength and reduce pain, according to a new analysis of past research.

The slow and gentle movements of tai chi, a modified form of an ancient Chinese martial art, may be especially suitable for middle aged and older people with multiple health conditions, the authors write in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

“Given the fact that many middle-aged and older persons have more than one chronic condition, it is important to examine the benefits of treatment/exercise interventions across several co-existing conditions,” lead author Yi-Wen Chen, from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, told Reuters Health by email.

Chen’s team analyzed results from 33 studies that looked at the effects of tai chi among people with four chronic conditions: cancer, heart failure, osteoarthritis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a group of lung disorders that make breathing difficult. Some of them also had additional health problems.

Tai chi is a set of exercises that emphasize breathing control, whole body exercises with bent knees and slow, flowing movements. In addition to strength, it can help to improve posture, balance and concentration, the researchers note.
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The studies Chen and her colleagues collected had a total of more than 1,500 participants and used tai chi as an intervention for any of the four chronic conditions.

The researchers assessed the effect of tai chi on how far a person could walk in six minutes, lower body muscle strength, the time required to go from sitting to standing, quality of life and depression.

The researchers also looked at the effects on specific symptoms of certain conditions, such as pain and stiffness in osteoarthritis and breathing problems for people with COPD.

They found that performance on the six-minute walking test improved for both heart failure and COPD patients. Tai chi also improved knee strength in one heart failure study and one COPD study.

Tai chi helped to decrease depression in heart failure patients, while other interventions such as stress management worked better than tai chi for cancer patients. Tai chi did not improve blood pressure in heart failure patients.

For osteoarthritis patients, the time taken to stand up, overall physical function, and general quality of life significantly improved with tai chi. Symptoms of pain and stiffness were also markedly reduced.

Rhayun Song of Chungnam National University in Korea, who studies tai chi’s effect on osteoarthritis but wasn’t involved in this new study, said tai chi is well suited to people with chronic conditions who may have physical limitations.

“Tai chi can be modified according to their physical condition (i.e., in sitting, standing, less bended knees, small steps, etc.) to perform it within their comfort zone,” Song said by email.

Song also noted that an advantage of tai chi over other exercise is the particular style of tai chi walking, which is different from normal walking. In this exercise, a person first takes an “empty” step, then transfers the weight.

This movement explains “why we can expect to see the improvement in knee muscle strength, balance, bone mineral density compared with other types of exercise,” Song said.

Chen advised that anyone starting a new exercise program should consult with their doctor to ensure it is safe. “This type of exercise can be enjoyable, improve fitness and well-being without aggravating symptoms,” she said.

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