Photo by Edward Graham for National Geographic Traveler
One of our mentors, Master Wei Lun Huang recently returned from a multi-week adventure, where he taught internal arts aboard a cruise ship traveling to ports of call like Malaysia. One of many trips abroad during his storied career sharing his Tai Chi experience around the globe. http://www.huangtaichi.com Likewise one of our Wakulla Springs qigong workshop friends Marie Favorito from the Boston Healing Tao http://www.bostonhealingtao.com has had the opportunity to practice and teach in Mexico and will journey to Columbia for a retreat this spring. Among our own local students and teachers, Jaclyn, Judith, Paul, Ray and Jose were abroad last year; and Christian has both taught and studied in various locations along side of international practitioners. Internal arts can be a valuable ‘ticket’ to not only personal exploration and discovery, but also it is apparent that Tai Chi opens up a dialogue with the global community. Indeed the tag line for the celebration of World Tai Chi & Qigong Day in April is “One world, one breath”. Australian native Aborigines have a term ‘walk-about’– a long wilderness journey aimed at tracing the path of their ancestors. Many Tai Chi practitioners eventually hear the call of the seeds of origin and travel to Asia to study or practice with lineage holders in the shared ‘language’ of the forms and postures. Yet one needn’t necessarily travel abroad to utilize their Tai Chi ‘passport’ granting them access to people, places, writings, art, philosophy or spiritualism they otherwise might have missed. It could be as simple as meeting a fellow practitioner at a gas station while helping a stranded motorist. It bridges gaps. Principles of Taoism can show us how to be better travelers, as Taoist instructor Casey Kochner discusses in this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLli6la2_fA#t=39 Flexibility, adaptation, simplicity, being in the moment, relaxation, awareness, consistently open breathing, respecting others’ essence. I want to thank our international WordPress readers from nations such as Oman, Greece, Iceland, Serbia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada, the UK, Belgium, Indonesia, France, Italy and many others –all with a shared interest in the ancient and global phenomenon of Tai Chi and related internal arts. Likewise our Twitter and Facebook followers located outside the US who I’m glad have found us and want to be part of the conversation. Where will Tai Chi take you, and who will you meet along the way?
Wrap-up of recent classes: Sorry for mother nature’s impact on some classes last week. Thursday, a handful back to class after weather interruptions, and “setting the table” as Ray likes to say with Growing Like a Tree Qigong at afternoon class. Single hand form practice and internal connections. Night class, finally got started on our 2014 exploration of Part III of Yang 108 with some Fair Lady Works the Shuttle. Monday more growing like a tree qigong watery relaxation, also working on creating space, emptying and filling, mind intention, and footwork drills.
Student News & Events: Thanks Deb for your commentary on WordPress for our “Self-Correction” newsletter topic 1/15 https://unitedtaichi.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/self-correction-united-tai-chi-digest-1152014/ and welcome back to the night class. One snowbird has left the coop as Irene is off to points south. And apparently Ron & Joy are on my same grocery schedule (howdy). Happy Chinese New Year (of the horse) to you all, Friday January 31! There is a free talk on treating common illnesses with complementary homeopathic medicine, by Kristen Santangelo at Lionville Holistic Health Center on January 29 at 7p http://lionvillehealth.com/blog/ Stay tuned for a couple of sample trial Tai Chi classes at Eat Drink OM Yoga Café in West Chester very soon http://www.eatdrinkOM.com Sifu Huang has as a weekend seminar at Boston Healing Tao Feb28-March 1 in Somervile MA, details here https://www.wepay.com/events/master-huang-march-2014 Thanks Ken C., one of our Facebook followers for suggesting an invite to teach in your area in Washington state; hope to work something out soon. Welcome Cathy Laws of Nashville http://advicefromnashville.com/ to our WordPress subscribers recently. We are at 1,037 Facebook followers (can we make it to 1050 by President’s Day?). Facebook fan of the day: Diego Salvador from Brazil …likes taekwondo and opera.
A sub-season of Winter (Water element) is no doubt the long awards show “season” that dots the wintery landscape like so many footprints in the snow. And no doubt during this “season” you have been hearing or seeing a lot about the David O. Russell / Eric Singer film “American Hustle”. In one of the key defining moments for Jennifer Lawrence’s character Rosalyn, she tells her con artist husband Irving (Christian Bale) how she has impacted his late-in-the-story-arc actions based on reading the Wayne Dyer book “The Power of Intention”. Intention is a word we hear a lot in our Tai Chi classes. Our own instructor Christian often discusses intention as the unifying factor in the varied styles, forms, instructors, schools and student attempts for internal arts practices. When it all comes from the heart, then you are not doing it wrong. And Master John Armstrong this weekend talked about intention as it relates to always keeping your center in mind as you move through the postures. Like a cat following a mouse, the cat always stays on her center line. And, while it may seem a bit common-sensical, Dr Dyer’s book shares these phrases about intention: “If you aren’t doing what you love and loving what you do, your power of intention is weakened. You attract into your life more of the dissatisfaction that isn’t the face of love. Consequently, more of what you don’t love will appear in your life.” That a recent high profile film has brought ‘intention’ into the limelight is perhaps in itself not an accident. That intention got name-dropped during a holiday release seems a subliminal message. A mindfulness product-placement if you will. With some recent Huffington Post stories, and David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education events http://www.davidlynchfoundation.org/ about the growing need for internal arts, mindfulness, meditation, and the popularity grown for tai chi in the wellness field, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Super Bowl half-time show next month now allotted time for a group exercise in intention and mindfulness. Principles of the Tai Chi Classics herald that your intent moves your qi. Bruce Frantzis of Energy Arts talks about how the mind moves the qi with intent: “Your mind has a specific goal of what you want to occur. You then, without tension, gently focus will and intent like a laser to accomplish X…then advance step by step, one stage building on the next, until you reach a high level of chi development.” Harking back to the film, “In Rosalyn’s efforts to operate from her own sense of integrity, she keeps everyone else honest, whether they want to be or not.” (Brent Marchant http://vividlife.me/ultimate/41923/intent-integrity-get-put-on-trial-in-american-hustle/ ) Here is hoping you and I all strive to keep moving with intention, integrity and honesty on our journey.
Wrap-up of recent classes: Baskets as your transition piece between some postures, more dragon tongue kick work, play the pan pan, merry go rounds, microcosmic orbit, heaven and earth hands. Moving tension, anger or yang energy by living from the back of your spine and ‘swallowing your pride’. Learning to recognize yang aggression in others. Stirring the can of paint with your hips. Parry re-direct and your center line. Single whip. Thirteen postures (and hey on Thursday we did the full floor, made it all the way to the mirror)! Monday, a light holiday attendance — discussed the ‘springing’ action of compression/expansion with your bubbling well energy and more finite detail work on shoulder-strike, white crane, and dragon tongue kick.
Student News & Events: Heard from Ellen W via Email, she has been out with some musculoskeletal issues and says ‘hi’ to everyone; send some positive healing thoughts on her recovery. Our sincere condolences from our Tai Chi family to Deb O who lost a family member last week. Welcome back Christine H. For some of you West Chesterites from Chester County Night School tai chi, there is a Raqs Sharqi belly dancing class on January 30 at 6.30pm at http://www.eatdrinkOM.com There is a free talk on treating common illnesses with complementary homeopathic medicine, by Kristen Santangelo at Lionville Holistic Health Center on January 29 at 7p http://lionvillehealth.com/blog/ Coming soon: hoping to try landing a time slot for a Tai Chi class at Eat Drink Om Yoga Café in West Chester. Also, how many of you would be interested in a Body Openings class locally? If any of you work near Philly on Tuesday evenings there is a Qigong fundamentals & healing sounds group class through Meetup.com at 7pm– see http://www.meetup.com/PhillyTao/ Congratulations to my nephew and his new bride, Jason & Brittany. Welcome@ ajctaichito, @bjackson165 in California and @nuneborac our Twittersphere.
“If I drive you to the beach each time, you’re never going to appreciate how to get there yourself, or discover new routes when you get lost.” So goes the phrase that our instructor Christian has oft repeated. The art of self-correction is a daily part of our Tai Chi practice. The slight external re-alignment or repositioning based on our own inner compass, once we learn not to try and mimic 100% of someone else’s frame. This can occur once we start adopting hints from continuing a circular path in our formwork, or to hear the notes in the martial application of a posture, to follow our own breath or develop our own rootedness. My back foot self-correction transitioning from Single Whip into Pull Down. Your shoulder landings in Play the Pan-Pan. His center line divining before Dragon Tongue Kick. Her elbows in Neutralize. Our height in Repulse Monkey. As in tai chi, so too in life. Some of us belong to a generation of career changers, relationship jumpers, re-locators, ponderers of our once-chosen path. Self correction. You feel the kink in the hose when something isn’t right. Is the smooth uptake of a new relationship one of the self correction points that un-knots the tube? A new career project or family endeavor? A spontaneous moment in a travel adventure that changes your course? A Wu Wei blog I quoted in October, http://altering-perspectives.com/2013/09/wu-wei.html, reminds us that some of the things we think we want on the surface may not be what our true self is seeking, hence artificial road blocks appear in order to protect us. The 1991 Garth Brooks #1 hit, “Unanswered Prayers” http://bit.ly/1ewDkNe also explores this phenomenon of reveling in Not getting what you only Thought you wanted, now that you know you have what you really needed. Julia Child’s early career was as a CIA intelligence officer. Opera star Andrea Bocelli a defense attorney. Walt Disney a newspaper editor. Recording artist Sting, not the only entertainer to have been a school teacher. What are some of your storied self-correction moments?
Wrap-up of recent classes: Eight pieces of brocade. More work on our transitions in pull down, shoulder strike and white crane. Your ribbon dancer of continuous circles. Martial applications for the apparent closing (or aiming for an end to your story). Sealing the foot. Part 1 of Yang 108 done at different speeds to assess the different sensations . Discussing the neutralize posture. Ten Breaths qigong and getting some space opened up in your spine. Dragon Tongue Kick arm story details. Breathing orbits. Golden Lotus qigong.
Student News & Events: Welcome back Ron, Joy and Mark and Judith that we’ve seen this week. I’ve seen, heard or lived some winter related accidents or injuries recently –be careful out there. How are you honoring Martin Luther King civil rights day of service in your community endeavors this weekend? Coming soon… class vouchers/coupons for gifts or make-ups. We’ve an Irish music flutist in our CCNS class, and some physical therapists. Still on the table: Friday January 31 Chinese New Year (of the horse) group celebration –one dining suggestion so far is Margaret Chao’s in Frazer on Rt 30 (if you have a favorite let me know). Welcome @integralmoving in Zurich, @taichi_cor in Spain, @wuweiwoo, @clf1836 martial arts wearables, @BUDOicast and @GoldenMonkey_1 to our Twittersphere. And new one-time WordPress reader/visitors from Greece, Sweden and Belgium this past week.
Etcetera: “Make your great, full day a grateful day.” – Christian Samuelson
Weekly Schedule: [Holiday note: 1/20/14 = No Monday night CCNS class due to MLK school closure]
What can you improve with structure and not force? Last fall we posted an infographic on Facebook showing a few examples http://on.fb.me/1ho49s1 of how the study and practice of Tai Chi can be used to improve swimming, hiking, and body-workers performing massage therapy. Spinal alignment, tail bone and groin relaxation, efficient breathing techniques, elbow and kidney connections, the 70 percent rule, the mind-body connection, and learning to listen to your body’s biofeedback. These Tai Chi principles can help athletes achieve personal or professional goals. “Tai Chi provides flexibility, balance and strength as well as modest conditioning. It can also help improve your focus and reflexes, enhance your range of motion and open up new neuromuscular pathways…it keeps you motivated, excited and in good shape; it also serves as a hedge against burnout and fatigue…prevents you from overtraining and allows you to recover from injuries—if you know your limits, you honor the yin, the non-doing piece of Tai Chi.” [Peter M. Wayne, The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi] The winter Olympics are next month in Sochi Russia. A current member of the US alpine ski team (and former Olympian) Ted Ligety is also a Tai Chi practitioner who studied with Master Victor Shenglong Fu. Ted won an Olympic gold medal in 2006 in Turn Italy. You can read more about Ted at http://www.tedligety.com. Ted’s US Ski teammate and fellow internal arts enthusiast Tommy Kirchhoff has written the 2008 book “The Internal Athletics”. You can read the preface online here http://www.futaichi.com/IntAth.html Even our own students have mentioned utilizing Tai Chi in their other fitness endeavors –John C has cut some time off his lap swims by remembering to tuck in his tailbone. Janet, Martina, and Judith no doubt see their own swimming benefit from Tai Chi practice. And our instructor Christian promotes the notion of the head suspended from above and a relaxed tailbone to discourage a lean forward during a mountain ascent, to put less strain on the glutes and hamstrings. What other fitness, dance, musical or job-performance related endeavors of yours have benefited from the concurrent practice of Tai Chi?
Wrap-up of recent classes: Thanks for the Thursday crew for coming out (small snow-day class), who reviewed the intricacies of Shoulder Strike and ended with some Growing Like a Tree Qigong. Floody-Monday more folks floated in for some neck and shoulder and eyeball warm-ups, plus more work on the transition from Shoulder Strike to White Crane.
Student News & Events: Welcome new students to the winter Chester Country Night School tai chi session this week. We marked our Facebook and Twitter one year anniversary on January 4. Sorry we got snowed out of the Lionville Natural Pharmacy class last Thursday. I heard from student Deb O this week who has been out with medical issues for awhile, she is home on the mend and hoping to see us in February. Thank you to Paul Read (Beancurd Boxer) http://bit.ly/1cl3sHW for the skills endorsement on LinkedIn. January 31 marks the Chinese New Year and we are entering a year of the Horse (this is a Friday night, anyone up for a night out for Chinese food?) “Sifu” Master Wei Lun Huang will be at a weekend seminar at the Boston Healing Tao in Somerville MA from February 28 through March 2, see details here http://bit.ly/19toA23 Welcome Francesca Fasano @beawell817 in California to our Twittersphere. And new one-time WordPress reader/visitors from Iceland, Oman, the Netherlands and Singapore. And a happy side note for me, just heard my fave Keith Urban will be performing at Bethlehem Musikfest in August! Sweeeeeeet.