The Armpit Monologues: United Tai Chi digest 2/19/14


  • Last week we were revisiting the importance of the armpit gland in our tai chi practice. How we don’t want to be closed off, or pinching the gland, but rather maintain a continuous openness in that region. In some of our earlier classes, our instructor Christian has shared the mantra ‘put a tuna sandwich under each armpit’, hoping that the imagery of a messy, mayonnaise filled hoagie would keep us from touching our biceps to the side of our ribs. The opening of the armpit also stands as a place holder for the upper tan tien when we unfold the arm in successive pieces for postures such as Ward Off. Or how we need to round the spine and soften the chest in order to get just the elbows (not the armpits) together in Golden Dragon Shakes the Tail qigong.  “An important requirement is keeping the space under the armpits rounded so the chi can flow easily from the body through the shoulders down through the arms”. [Violet Li, The Tai Chi Examiner, June 2011]  Part of your lymphatic system is housed in the armpit, and unhealthy or swollen lymph nodes are an immune system warning of infection. The armpit suffers an image problem—the name alone with the word ‘pit’ in it does not conjure up positive connotations, it is suggestive of a deficit or a den of iniquity. American culture and Madison Avenue tells us the armpit is a malodorous place we need to treat, and a hairy place we need to deforest. It is through our internal arts practices however that we are learning to demystify and embrace the wonder and significance of the armpit.  With apologies to Helen Reddy and 1972: I am Armpit hear me roar, in numbers too big to ignore, and I know too much to go back and pretend. I’ve heard it all before and I’ve been down there on the floor, no one’s ever going to keep me down again. Yes I am wise, but its wisdom born of pain. Yes I’ve paid the price but look how much I’ve gained. If I have to, I can face anything –I am strong, I am invincible, I am Armpit!



  • Wrap-up of recent classes:  More play-the-pan-pan practice and insights about the scissor step and left side uncoiling. “Let it be one” mantra for the left hand during transitions from shoulder strike, pull down and white crane.  Mental pictures, mind intention and silence.  Ray and the “senior students”.  Armpit class Wednesday, and groin. No elbows. Creating space and removing tension. Also part I of Yang108 done to the other side.  Snow removal issues near Master Armstrong postponed this month’s Dragon Gym Sunday workshop to March. Monday: heel to finger tip unity line in the Split posture, circling, un-martial jargon for those so inclined, tan tiens of the arm, Play the Pan-Pan. And the wei yin.   


  • Student News & Events: Sincere condolences from our Tai Chi family to Marcia Z on the loss of a family member this winter. And good luck to Ellen W on her surgery soon. West Chester fans and friends, very soon Christian will be teaching Thursday morning classes at Eat Drink OM Yoga Café at 7:30am, pricing and info at  and you can meet the owner Susan in this video  please be sure and support our Tai Chi classes there!  Thanks Deb O for the commentary notes under our “Power Down” blog last week For those of you not on Facebook that missed Christian’s shovel tai chi video, let me know if you want to receive it via email and I’ll bcc whatever list of folks asks me for it. The spring Chester County Night School course guide is out, and once again Christian will be teaching at East Bradford Elementary starting March 17 on Monday nights (course #FH70 at )  Welcome @julian181994 from Brooklyn, @ldr49ny in New Hampshire, @idea_de_qi in Mexico and @agostinetti_a from Italy to our Twittersphere.  In WordPress reader news, highlighting our Canadian friends this Olympic week —congrats on Charles Hamelin’s gold in short track 1500m speed skating. Facebook fans of the day, Marie F from Boston Healing Tao; Uevin –a Packers fan; and Tania G, latino international film festival fan.

 Etcetera :  Formula to combat a certain approach from students in internal arts, from Sifu Anthony K of  “Students pay too much attention to the physical aspects of qigong, tai chi and meditation. When it comes to maximizing your results, there is a simple equation that will help. The physical aspect is responsible for 10% of your results, the breathing aspect 30% and the meditation aspect is responsible for 60% of your results.” 


  • Weekly Schedule:  



Lionville YMCA  … 100 Devon Drive  Exton PA

Mon, Weds, Fri

7:30 AM


Eagleview YMCA …699 Rice Blvd  Exton PA

Tues, Thurs

4:45 PM

Thursday Night

Lionville Natural Pharmacy    309 Gordon Dr Exton

[90 min., small   class attention, Tai Chi

 *$25 drop in   rate]



7:00 PM

Monday night


Chester County Night School, Tai Chi class

820 Frank Rd in West Chester

Pre-pay,   6-7 week . Next new session in March



7.30 PM

Thursday   morning

Tai Chi classes at Eat Drink OM Yoga Café

124 E. Gay St in West Chester  for price   call the Yoga Café at 484.356.8655



7:30 AM



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 Have a great week, and may all your armpits have tuna sandwiches.

Kathleen Rice    


2 thoughts on “The Armpit Monologues: United Tai Chi digest 2/19/14

  1. Deb Orsini

    The words of Sifu Anthony K confirmed what I was just thinking about and working on this very day. Confirmation seems to show itself in many ways when meditating on something. For example: a friend of mine texted something of the same nature that day. I had so many of the physical teachings working in my movement that it paralyzed me. Even practicing different breathing methods was throwing me off. In that instant I said just move with it, it will come. The importance of slowness of movement and feeling all that’s happening in and around me causes an awareness of myself that can then, and only then, open the healing gates of life. The physical and breathing techniques fall into place; amazing how the body knows when all things are in harmony the true essence of life flows effortlessly.

  2. Pingback: A Look Back, Part I: United Tai Chi Digest 12/8/2014 | United Tai Chi

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