Tai Chi School Blog

An introduction to qigong and tai chi quan

blogpost thumb

I have been staying at Omeida Chinese Academy for six weeks trying to learn Mandarin and of course the topic of learning qigong and tai chi comes up in conversation now and then. Many of the students are interested but know little about it. One classmate for example told me she wanted to learn kungfu as though she had done Taiji with a friend it was really slow and she was interested in learning a martial art. Others talked about how they wanted to learn to relax as when they go back to their stressful jobs they find it hard to unwind. All of them showed an interest in learning more about the culture in China and I, as someone with a little history in Yangshuo and someone who as learnt a little taiji, seemed to be able to offer the occasional words of explanation.

In the end I managed to persuade a small group of students to try an introduction lesson at The Traditional Tai Chi School after I had taken one of them there for a look at the place. I think she was amazed at the traditional buildings, the atmosphere and the character of the school. So once word went around about how nice it was they booked a lesson and I came along just for the fun of it.

When we got there MQi Gong Lesson At Yangshuo Tai Chi Schoolaster Kim was training a small group of long term students and so we all got to see some more advanced practice including kicks and punches which I think helped put our own lesson in some kind of context. So often I find beginners have no idea that Taiji is a martial art and they can not imagine how it could be used in combat. I explained to them how the form we learn just teaches us to move in different ways, how we learn to connect to internal energy and master our physical bodies to enable us to fight, should we desire to. In fact I doubt I could ever fight using Taiji and it’s not the reason I do it. None the less it is an important aspect of the art.

So we started our lesson and Master Kim gave a us a little talk about what we were going to do and led us into a short standing meditation, zhàn zhuāng (站樁), literally “standing like a post“. I actually thought this was a  little hardcore as standing meditation requires to to stand holding your arms out in  in front of you for extended periods of time (I think we did about five minutes in all).  Actually everyone managed it and afterwards seemed to have enjoyed the experience. Standing is a great way to learn to relax because you are forced to confront the tensions in your body and it also gives your body the opportunity to make its own alignments and readjustments.

After this we did a little more Qigong learning a few simple movements and working to relax and soften the bQigong Lesson at Yangshuo Tai Chi Schoolreath, connect the movements with our breath and quieten our minds. This is perhaps the hardest thing to do and something I still find challenging. It’s also a very important part of Taiji practice and I remember reading somewhere of a Master saying that practising Taiji without meditation and Qigong is like baking a cake without turning on the gas. Also I think this was the part that most of the group really wanted to learn about and so everyone was very attentive.

Master Kim is a really good teacher, so patient and encouraging. He must have been through this class a million times with other people but you wouldn’t have known it. He guided us all through each step like a kindly uncle. His experience as a teacher really shows and he knows just how deep to go with the lesson. Whenever he came to offer adjustments and corrections to me I could really feel the sensitivity to my personal skill level and needs.

So we then moved onto learn some form and I was very impressed that we managed to get quite so far into the first section of the the Old Frame First Routine (Lao Jia Yi Lu – 老架一路) which includes a total of 74 moves. We made it through to Six Sealing and Four Closing (Liu Feng Si Bi – 六封四闭) which is a fairly recognisable move within Chen style Taiji Quan. We went through it step by step with Master Kim alternately correcting and leading us through the movements. I have been through those opening steps myself hundreds of times but even so still find new elements to learn in the sequence and I expect I will continue to do someone after another ten thousand times.

Before we completed the sequence Master Kim took the opportunity to demonstrate some applications. I stepped up at first and he showed how to redirecQigong Lesson at Yangshuo Tai Chi schoolt the energy from an incoming punch. He also showed us how to use the opening movements to shake off an attack. All very useful and simple self defence moves that anyone can use even after one brief lesson. But also an important insight into the nature of Taiji. It also helps us know where to direct the feeling in the moves and where to hold our arms and legs as we go through the movements.

For me and the other students this was a brief but wonderful afternoon discovering something about Chinese traditional culture in a beautiful and atmospheric setting. One day I hope to have the time and money to study at the school long term but for now I need to focus on learning to speak Chinese so it’s back to class for me and my tóngxué (同学).

Author :  Roy Hanney – is a university lecturer living and working in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China. He practices taiji, qigong and yoga with a particular passion for Chen Style Taijiquan. In his spare time he makes films, authors websites and makes video art. He blogs about his encounters with Qigong and Daoist healing arts at his website:- http://www.qigonginchina.com

Tea and Tai Chi: a way of being-in-the-world

blogpost thumb

Tai Chi Tea

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step (…or sip)” Lao Tzu.

The relationship of Tai Chi to Tea is, like anything to do with Chinese traditional culture a long and complex story. However we can take a first step in understanding this story with a very simple idea; Cǎi (採, cǎi) pronounced Tsai. One of the Eight Basic Methods of Chen Style Taijiquan[1], Cǎi means to pluck, taking its name from the short sharp twist used to pick the tips of the tea bush (採茶, cǎi chá). The move follows the flow of approaching force and without interruption diverts it into emptiness.

To give another example, Wave Hands Like Clouds (云手 Yún shǒu) is another very famous Tai Chi movement. To move hands like clouds is to move with a natural soft flowing movement but with intention. This doing without doing is one of the attitudes of thinking and doing that is inherent in Daoism. Tea drinking similarly embodies Daoist ideas in the way in which sharing tea is an opportunity to be mindful and truly present. They are interlinked through their spirit, they both seek to refresh one’s mind and body. So it seems that mindfulness and stillness can be practiced equally through the ritual of making and imbibing tea, as it can through the practice of Tai Chi forms. So from the start we can see an example of how Tai Chi, Tea and the principles of Daoism are all intricately interwoven.

Practising Tai Chi form reveals for us many aspects of Daoist spiritual culture and drinking tea offers us yet another way to integrate this feeling of being-in-the-world into our daily lives and way of looking at the world around us. Being-in-the-world is to be in the middle of the world, amongst things, immersed in the now. Kakuzo Okakura writes in the classic Book of Tea[2] (1906), “Chinese historians have always spoken of Daoism as the ‘art of being-in-the-world,’ for it deals with the present–ourselves. It is in us that God meets with Nature, and yesterday parts from to-morrow.”

Out of stillness we come into presence, being part of the world in harmony and balance with nature. A very Daoist concept, the ‘tea-mind‘, that is to say, “a way of being-in-the-world, a way of living a life of grace and gratitude, of being able to see the sacred in the seemingly mundane”. This is the heart of Daoism, and we are told, the way of tea (茶道chá dào). It is also the way of Tai Chi.

Drinking tea has been a Chinese custom for thousands of years, with the earliest records dating back to the 10th-century BC. Chinese philosopher Laozi described tea as the “froth of the liquid jade“, and called it an indispensable ingredient in the elixir of life by which he means it is an important contribution to our longevity and health. In his book Cha Dao: The Way of Tea, Tea as a Way of Life, Solala Towler writes, “Daoists follow nature… and so Daoists like tea because it comes from nature. Tea is the flavour of the Dao”.

Indeed the health benefits of Tai Chi and tea are complimentary as many scientific studies have shown. Dr. Greenwood[3], an expert on the relationship between diet, nutrition and brain health, tells us that “the compounds in tea appear to impact virtually every cell in the body in a positive health outcome, which is why the consensus emerging from this symposium is that drinking at least a cup of clear green, black, white or oolong tea a day can contribute significantly to the promotion of public health”. So drinking tea has a whole body benefit just like Tai Chi.

Meanwhile, researchers at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Centre have established that a combination of Tai Chi exercise and green tea can contribute to improved bone health and muscle strength. So in  combination Tai Chi and tea means healthy bones, improved balance, clarity of thought, and a boost to the immune system.

Aside from individual benefits Tai Chi is often performed with others and and brings with it benefits of social inclusion. Being part of group, meeting and practicing with others it’s essence is social harmonising the individual in the social. Tea too, brings people together and reflects the individuals relationships within the world.

Tea and Tai Chi is being-in-the-world, being part of the world, being in harmony with the world, being in nature.


Author : 

Roy Hanney – is a university lecturer living and working in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China. He practices taiji, qigong and yoga with a particular passion for Chen Style Taijiquan. In his spare time he makes films, authors websites and makes video art. He blogs about his encounters with Qigong and Daoist healing arts at his website: http://www.qigonginchina.com

 

Tai Chi-thailand

blogpost thumb

Before the students in Thailand Tai Chi School, thomas learned Chen-style Taijiquan, Taiji Qigong, taijiquan. Tai Chi Kung Fu deep foundation, is also his years of unremittingly efforts.

 

Like to visit Thomas’s website

 

Tai Chi improves memory

blogpost thumb

Tai Chi makes your brain bigger and can improve memory and thinking – possibly delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, claim scientists. – The Telegraph –

A new study has revealed how elderly people practising Tai Chi – an ancient Chinese form of slow, meditative exercise – just three times a week can boost brain volume and improve memory and thinking.

As the exercise increases mental activity, scientists believe it may be possible to delay the onset of incurable Alzheimer’s in pensioners.

Dementia and the gradual cognitive deterioration that precedes it is associated with increasing shrinkage of the brain, as nerve cells and their connections are gradually lost.

Previous research has shown Tai Chi can help relieve stress, improve balance in the elderly and stave of high blood pressure – helping those who suffer from heart disease.

Although scientists know brain volume can be increased in people who participate in aerobic exercise, this is the first study to show a less physical form of working out, like Tai Chi, can have the same results.

Researchers conducted an eight month controlled trial on Chinese seniors, comparing those who practiced Tai Chi three times a week to a group with no intervention.

Participants also had lively discussions three times a week over the same time period, with results showing a similar increase in brain volume and improvements on memory and thinking as those exercising.

Findings also revealed the group who did not participate in Tai Chi showed brain shrinkage over the eight months – consistent with what generally has been observed for elderly people in their 60s and 70s.

The research suggests forms of exercise like Tai Chi, that include an important mental health exercise component, are associated with increased production of brain growth factors like aerobic exercise.

Dr James Mortimer, of the University of South Florida, said: “If this is shown, then it would provide strong support to the concept of ‘use it or lose it’ and encourage seniors to stay actively involved both intellectually and physically.

“The ability to reverse this trend with physical exercise and increased mental activity implies that it may be possible to delay the onset of dementia in older persons through interventions that have many physical and mental health benefits.

“Epidemiologic studies have shown repeatedly that individuals who engage in more physical exercise or are more socially active have a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

“The current findings suggest that this may be a result of growth and preservation of critical regions of the brain affected by this illness.”

The study, helped by Fudan University, China, was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Link to the original Article of the Telegraph Website

Tai Chi Theory

blogpost thumb

Tai Chi Theory

TAI CHI

Tai Chi movements are slow soft and graceful with smooth and even transitions between them, The meditative nature of the exercises is calming and relaxing.

Tai Chi Chuan or (taiji quan) exercise helps blood to move around inside the body. This is very important blood takes food to all parts of our bodies ,the brains in our heads also need blood. If we keep our bodies healthy and do exercises, we can think better.

TAI CHI & HEALTH

When practising Tai Chi, the practitioners consciousness, breathing and actions are all closely connected. The transfer and focus of the practitioners energy corresponds to the network of maridians joining the acupuncture points used in traditional Chinese medicine. Tai Chi exercises stimulate blood circulation and the inner organs, as well as improving strength and muscle control.

Tai Chi exercises help to improve health, co-ordination and posture and will promote general fitness and weight loss. Tai Chi stimulates the body and calms the mind, resulting in a balanced outlook and an overall improved sense of well being.

TAI CHI PUSH HANDS

Push-hands is a practice method of traditional Tai Chi martial arts. Two students with their arms in contact practice twining and sticking actions to develop the sense of touch, awareness and balance within the body.

This is the training method where Tai Chi movements connect with martial arts applications, and develops the understanding of how small forces can defeat strong physical power.

Instructor's Meeting

blogpost thumb

For all those wishing to look at the possibilities and undertakings of what it’s like to be a Tai Chi instructor, we will be having a get together and BBQ with the instructors to give give you a chance to join us in a informal chat

New Training Grounds

blogpost thumb

In order to provide a great area with more space we have been building a new training ground with a large cover, so perfect for the sunny days of summer or to train when the rains freshen the area in spring time.

The grounds are now laid, the roof is on, and the new private accommodation block is almost complete! The new block also provides a great roof top with a new kitchen area and terrace to relax with some tea and watch other training below you

Yangshuo Park

blogpost thumb

Yangshuo Park is an interesting place to visit. Early morning you can witness the real morning Chinese life, such as locals (and often foreigners) practicing tai chi or kung fu, doing their Qi gong warming up exercises, walking, jogging or running, some singing or dancing and even students studying and practicing their English aloud. In the park, there is a nice trail leading to the pagoda on the summit of the mountain where you can have a bird’s eye view of the town.

From the front of the park just wander in till you reach the childrens play area (to your left) You will see a path leading off past the childrens area, head down this path. After the monument you will pass along the way you will come to a small junction with the main path turning to the right and a smaller dirt path leading to the left and to the bottom of the karst mountain. You can stop about halfway up at a beautiful outlook spot, which reaches out from the mountain into the park, some of the views here in the early evening can be stunning! If you continue up you will reach a small pagoda at the peak which gives you a great view over the main road leading into Yangshuo and gives you a great feel of how the town has been slowly built up around the karsts.

Yangshuo park is situated near the bus station with the main entrance opposite the bus station near the roundabout.