Understanding Natural Movement
December 27, 2021
By learning to move independently, we can become highly sensitized to frozen or inappropriately used muscle groups, thus providing a tool for directly working on releasing such unnecessary and harmful tension. Finally, the more able you are to consciously move a particular part of the body independently, the more successful you will be in sending qi to that area for healing an injury… and ultimately leading to the ability to do unified movement.
Dealing with Obstacles in Tai Chi
August 23, 2021
Students of any Teaching often lack the tools to make refinements to what they learn. Such a process requires critical thinking, analytical skills, perseverance, and knowledge of other arts such as science, mathematics, philosophy, etc. Henry Ford said: 'If you need a machine [or tool] and don't buy it, then you will ultimately find that you have paid for it and [still] don't have it.' A similar truth holds for tools for learning Taiji.
May 3, 2021
When you begin to lose your balance—even to a small degree—shifting your weight is often a factor in recovering stability. So a combination of mobility and leg strength is important in preventing falling. The stronger your legs and the greater their range of motion, the greater the ability to correct for a loss of balance.”
Tai Chi: Swimming on Land
April 12, 2021
Professor Cheng Man-ch'ing wrote about the importance of what is described as "swimming on land,"1 "swimming in air,"2 and "dry swimming."3 We are advised in these writings to imagine the air as having the resistance and consistency of water when doing taiji movement.
The Benefits of Expansive Strength and How to Cultivate It
March 8, 2021
I learned about such strength from a dancer, Elaine Summers, with whom I studied in the 1970s because of problems I had with my back. At a certain point of practicing taiji, I realized that the strength she taught for movement and therapy was the same as nei jin. In order to develop such strength, it is first necessary to relinquish one’s accustomed contractive strength which would mask experiencing any fledgling emergence of expansive strength.
Tai Chi – A Tradition of Immunity and Health - Part 2 - June 15, 2020
Observations and supporting research indicating possible physiological mechanisms of action underlying benefits, which may be unique to tai chi and similar exercises, is documented in my book “Mindful Exercise: Metarobics, Healing, and the Power of Tai Chi.” A range of scientific studies and supporting case stories provide hope and a direction for further investigations, research which in time may benefit a surprisingly wide range of conditions. Related to current concerns, I will provide a brief overview of key elements related to immunity at the end of this article.
Tai Chi—A Tradition of Immunity and Health - Part 1 - May 18, 2020
The question many may be asking is if tai chi may protect you from the coronavirus or other conditions. More research would be needed to determine this, and it is important for legal reasons to avoid making any claims that tai chi is a cure for any condition. But the preliminary research related to benefits for immunity and other conditions at least offers hope for enhanced health. And hope in many ways has been considered by many to be one of the best medicines. As noted by Orison Swett Marden, author and founder of Success Magazine, “There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something tomorrow.” Here is hoping for a better tomorrow through tai chi.
Metarobics for Immunity - May 4, 2020
Researchers have also looked at the effects of tai chi practice on virus-specific lymphocytes. A study examining the effects of tai chi on varicella zoster (shingles) virus-specific lymphocytes found a significant increase in the number of these lymphocytes in a group of older adults after fifteen weeks of tai chi training. The tai chi group experienced an almost 50 percent increase in cell-mediated immunity to the varicella zoster virus despite not receiving the vaccine, compared to no change in a comparison group. A third group received the shingles vaccine, which resulted in a 75 percent increase in the number of virus-specific lymphocytes.
Tai Chi, Metarobics, and Immunity - February 17, 2020
Tai chi practice has been shown to have beneficial effect on T cells. In a study conducted at the Chang Gung Institute of Technology in Taiwan, 12 weeks of tai chi practice resulted in a significant increase in regulatory T Cells. Monocytes (large white blood cells) also decreased significantly. Lower Monocyte counts are an indication of good health, since Monocytes increase in response to infection and chronic inflammation, indicating poor health.
Maximizing Metarobic Effects - December 16, 2019
Those forms of exercise that focus on relaxation, efficient movement, and slow, deep breathing yield consistently higher blood oxygen saturation levels, as well as feelings of enhanced oxygen diffusion. This includes relaxation- and breath-focused forms of qigong and yoga. Since one of the drawbacks of traditional formats of tai chi is the long learning curve, I developed an easy-to-follow format. This format consisted of shifting the feet back and forth in place through the range of movements found in tai chi, focusing on movements that maximize Metarobic effects.
Xingyi, Bagua, Taiji and Liuhebafa - August 26, 2019
The approach to teaching and studying martial arts in China was based upon a monastic tradition that is characterized as door, hall, and chamber teaching. In times past the monastery, both Daoist and Buddhist, served as schools for medicine, the classics, and martial arts.
Brief History of Liuhebafa: Water Boxing - July 15, 2019
The origins of Liuhebafa, also called Water Boxing, can be traced to the Daoist sage Chen Tuan (A.D. c.871-989) also called Tunan and Fuyaozi. Chen is a mystical figure whose advice and perspective was sought by Chinese emperors during the period of the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (A.D. 907-960) and at the beginning of the Song Dynasty (A.D. 960-1279).
Metarobics, Tai Chi and Alzheimer’s - June 10, 2019
Alzheimer’s is a scary disease. To go from having memories and full mental functioning to not knowing who you are, a decline in mental and physical functioning, and eventual death—what can be scarier than that? And as a disease, Alzheimer’s is becoming increasingly prevalent. According to the Centers for Disease Control, death rates from Alzheimer’s disease increased 55 percent between 1999 and 2014. Approximately one-third of all people age 85 and older may have Alzheimer's disease. Although genes and environment can play a factor, much of the growth of Alzheimer’s may be linked to a more sedentary lifestyle.
The First Rule of Self-Defense - April 8, 2019
I’m fond of telling my martial arts students that the First Rule of Self-Defense is “Don’t get hit.” After all, how can you be defeated if no one hits you? This rule makes perfect strategic sense from a pugilistic perspective. However, there is a better and more broadly applicable rule that I prefer to stand by: “Protect your best interests.” What is self-defense, really, if not protecting, or defending, your best interests? The advice “Don’t get hit” is simple and unambiguous, and therefore easy to understand.
Your Tai Chi Pelvis - February 11, 2019
Tai chi is a personal development discipline deeply rooted in ancient Chinese culture. One of the most basic tenets of Asian philosophy and of its many traditional mind/body disciplines is that neither the mind nor the body can ever be regarded as entirely separate from the other. This is a belief that I share.
Tips for Selecting a Tai Chi Class - January 14, 2019
To learn or practice tai chi for health, teaching ability can make more difference than the years of experience a teacher has in tai chi. This was also something hard for me to admit as a longtime practitioner. There are many traditionalists with a more martial orientation who may have incredible skill in tai chi but little patience as teachers. One of the largest barriers to learning tai chi identified in a survey of major programs in the United States was lack of patience on the part of the instructor.
Anatomy of a Warrior Spirit - December 23, 2018
Martial artists are, by definition, warriors. True warriors have warrior spirit. In martial arts, as in life, there are some people who are successful, and some people who are not. The most successful people are imbued with a warrior spirit, known in the Chinese tradition as Yi. Warrior spirit has nothing to do with fighting or aggression, even though skilled fighters often have a well-developed warrior spirit. On the contrary, warrior spirit is about having the wherewithal to resolve conflict or avoid it altogether, and most of all to muster the internal fortitude requisite to the process of mastering yourself.
Qi: Science or Magic? - November 26, 2018
Tai chi and similar exercises are yielding phenomenal results for a large variety of health concerns. When I began collecting case stories, I was amazed at the number of people who have benefited from these exercises, often in dramatic ways. That tai chi and various qigong exercises increase blood oxygen saturation indicates that it is no coincidence that the Chinese word "qi" (pronounced "chi") is so strongly associated with these exercises. Despite qi's common association with the metaphysical and energy work, at its most basic level qi is best understood from its literal translation as "air."
The Value of Differentiated Movement - November 5, 2018
Your ability to move in a differentiated manner is truly a measure of how freely you can live in your own body. Differentiated movement is a foundational concern to all tai chi and martial arts practitioners and is important, as well, to many other sports and movement disciplines.
Essential Elements of Metarobics and Tai Chi for Therapy - September 17, 2018
Tai chi is fast becoming a popular exercise, resulting in a wide range of teaching methods. Some changes are beneficial, but others may reduce or even eliminate the unique benefits of tai chi. This chapter provides a brief overview of the development of tai chi for health and discusses what to look for when choosing a class to maximize the benefits of tai chi from a Metarobic and structural perspective.
Metarobics and Tai Chi: How a Student with Cancer Changed My Understanding of Exercise - August 20, 2018
My awareness of how the body responds to certain kinds of movement occurred over a period of several years, and quite by accident. It was a gradual process. It began with the first student who came to me convinced that tai chi had cured her cancer. Over time, I came to realize that a large variety of chronic diseases shared a common element—an element directly affected by tai chi and similar exercises, which have unique and measurable effects on blood oxygen saturation and diffusion.
Tai Chi Dosage, and Making Tai Chi “Fit” into your Life - July 30, 2018
There is an amazing array of research studies supporting the benefits of tai chi and related exercises for a wide range of conditions. Metarobic theory explains how and why from a medical perspective, but there still remains the question of why some studies show conflicting results particularly in the field of cancer.
Tai Chi and Economics - July 2, 2018
Ordinarily the word "economics" conjures up thoughts of money, governments, budgets and expenditures – pretty boring stuff if you're not an economist. However, the word "economy" simply refers to the effects, as measured by the relative advantages or disadvantages, of any causal behavior within any system. The most important and immediate economy in your life has to do not with what's in your wallet, but in how you choose to organize and live in your own body.
Tai Chi, Metarobics and World Tai Chi & Qigong Day - April 23, 2018
Every year thousands around the globe celebrate and promote tai chi on World Tai Chi & Qigong Day (WTCQGD). This event was founded almost 20 years ago by Bill Douglas, as a way to promote interest in these exercises. And it worked. Every year many schools who participate in this event bring in new students. And I am excited to announce that this may get even better – new research and the release of my book Mindful Exercise: Metarobics, Healing, and the Power of Tai Chi, byYMAA, August 2018, holds promise for attracting even more to these health and life giving arts.
Perspectives on Tai Chi, Somatics, & Life - April 16, 2018
Live In the Moment, Not For the Moment. One of the great benefits of martial arts practice, and especially internal arts such as tai chi, is the underlying theme of being present to oneself –of being in the moment.