This weekend the North East and Mid –Atlantic region of the US were showered with a coat of freezing rain, resulting in many automobile accidents. Concerns of flooding grew as the temperature rose a bit later in the day. These are examples of water’s destructive rather than creative personality. In the Five Elements of Chinese Medicine, water is associated with the season of winter. During winter in this hemisphere, some humans tend to “hibernate”, not unlike bears. It is a darker season, with short daylight hours and less incidence of pleasant outdoor blooming flora. With less light in our eyes, some experience a phenomenon currently known as Seasonal Affective Disorder –an anagram that literally spells SAD. It is important to note at this time of year (though many lose interest), physical activity is one of the major deterrents of SAD. Internal arts practitioners would certainly include the practices of Tai Chi, Qi Gong and meditation. On an icy surface, people are more likely to fall, so developing a greater sense of internal and external balance, intention, leg strength and flexibility come in handy. We become more aware of our surroundings. Be sure and get some “golden light” in your eyes in the coming days. Giving back to others is one of those “lights” –share with us how you spent your Martin Luther King day of service.
Shares/Finds: For those studying the 24 Form (sometimes called the Tai Chi short form), Best Tai Chi Videos site posted this video.
Student News & Events: Appreciation for those of us who joined UTC for Christian’s Qi Gong workshop at Kokikai Akido School this weekend– a study in connections and internal balance. Master Armstrong encountered weather/travel issues this weekend and will reschedule his monthly Sunday morning session at Dragon Gym. Sincere condolences from our Tai Chi family to Martina on the loss of a loved one last month. Anyone with birthdays to share in February, let me know for a blog mention next time. Hello to our snowbirds who are spending the winter in warmer climates, hope to see you back in the spring.
Social Media Roundup: Welcome our new followers, sharers or readers on the following platforms: (Twitter) @YjtcNpc , @goldduster96 and @dogperson77. Our friends at Lighthouse Tai Chi in the UK report snow and ice there as well. (Facebook) Maria M and Raydoune Z joined us recently. (Pinterest) Check out the boards of our new follower Joseph M. (WordPress) Thank you for making our last blog –Year of the Goat our third most read title in the past 12 months!
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We have just christened 2015, the year of the goat. One of the yin Chinese zodiac signs, the goat is stable, sympathetic, kind-hearted, compassionate and willing to sacrifice his or her own interests to help others. Goats in different birth years are linked to different elements. Many water goats (b. 1943) share the art of music–including Janis Joplin, George Harrison, John Denver, Barry Manilow, Joni Mitchell and Jim Croce. Known for his environmentalism, Denver seemed to be aligned with the Taoist principles of communing with nature, respecting and drawing inspiration from earth’s elements. Harrison, known as the “quiet Beatle”, had an abiding interest in Eastern philosophies, instruments and meditation. Creative thinkers like Bill Nye, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were each born in a wood goat year, 1955. After Jobs’ death, internal arts blogger Paul Read (bean curd boxer) wrote of him “let us welcome the new interpreters, the Yang Chen Fus and Chen Man Ch’ings. Those who evolved the art and took the risk of rejection…just like the I Ching tells us to do. Just like the applications teach us to do.” Were you born in a year of the goat? Share your story with us. And let us start out 2015 with compassion, kindness and sacrifice.
New Event & Class Alert: Christian will be holding a Saturday QiGong workshop on January 17 at Kokikai Akido School (1209 Ward Ave in West Chester). Time slot is 10am to 12pm, and pricing is $20 per hour. He is also a returning Tai Chi instructor for the Chester County Night School program. Dates January 7th to February 11th at Henderson High School in West Chester. Fees $62 bulk rate per person for six classes. Wednesday nights at 7:30pm. Register at this link. Also, regarding some of our Lionville YMCA classes, the Tuesday/Thursday afternoon class has changed temporarily during construction to 4.30pm and last 45 minutes. Join us Sunday January 18 at 10:00 am for a session with Masters Tolbert and Armstrong at Dragon Gym in Exton.
Recent Quotes: “As a tool for developing life skills and improving my life, I can think of few things that have done me as much good as starting martial arts training.” Mike Massie, Martial Arts Business Daily
Student News & Events: Chris M shared with me via Gmail this great story of enlightenment in her search for Crane vs. Snake debate answers. “On the way to yoga I looked along the roadway at a bird that caught my eye–a white crane! It had a snake in its mouth. The snake was contorting itself in all ways possible. The white crane, with its elegant, elongated curved beak, had all the advantages. White crane trumps snake. That crane, as fragile as it seems, has all the advantages. It speaks tai chi principles on several levels. Words that come to mind: don’t muscle in to a tense situation.” Our condolences to Marcia on the loss of a loved one after an illness. Pray for the families of those lost on AirAsia 8501. Thank you to the Tolberts for hosting many Tai Chi friends at a post-holiday social this weekend. I am watching my new betta fish DiNozzo, who demonstrates the principles of snake spine, bones like water, adapting to your environment, and moving meditation. Master Tolbert introduced us to Qi Journal which you can check out here.
Social Media Roundup: Welcome our new followers, sharers or readers on the following platforms: (Twitter) @MUNIOdefense , @QiGongiiQG, @LucasKitchen and @FerguJames. (Pinterest) Check out the boards of our new fans Sara A and Dominic B.(Facebook) Ben T, from whom I found Martial Arts Business Daily and Monica C from the Azores. And thank you Sifu Chris Bouguyon (National Qi Gong Association board of directors) for connecting with me on LinkedIn.
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In the previous blog we reminisced about the first half of 2014 for United Tai Chi. Some say the sequel is never as good as the original, but let’s give it a go.
In addition to the class locations mentioned in Part I of the newsletter, added sites in the latter half of the year included Kokikai Akido school, more Chester County Night School sessions, and the Sunday mornings at Dragon Gym with Masters Armstrong and Tolbert. Our mentor Wei Lun Huang held a weekend workshop in Broomal PA that several of our students attended. And Phil represented UTC at Master Huang’s annual Wakulla Springs tai chi retreat. Christian held an outdoor weekend QiGong seminar in August. And followed Master Huang to a learning session at Boston Healing Tao this fall. UTC was also represented at the Blue Buddha anniversary party.
Field trips or shared events included Christian, Phil and Deb joining Master Armstrong in Philadelphia for a community festival and Tai Chi demonstration. Likewise some attended an Internal Arts weekend workshop lakeside at a fellow practitioner’s cabin. Steve and Phil conducted a Harvest Moon internal arts evening to celebrate the cosmic event. John C travelled to Hawaii to cheer on his son in a prestigious triathlon. We read books such as “The Power of Tai Chi Chuan” (R. Gamble) and “The Old Man From the Hill” (S. Zimcosky).Ray welcomed a new grandson, Jaclyn travelled to Croatia, and Christian’s uncle had an art exhibit at the Rosenfled Gallery in Philadelphia. Our annual tradition continued in supporting a youth from the Delaware Valley Children’s Charity with Angel Tree gift donations at the local YMCA.
Newsletter blog essays in the ‘living the art’ theme included: the effect of utilizing sound or music versus no sound. Mood disorders or depression and the Taoist principles of meditation, fitness and access to daylight. Medication black box warnings about side effects as a story framing agent to discuss the positive “side effects” of tai chi. Letting things go via listening, receiving, flexibility, communing with nature and animals, and comporting ourselves like ‘velvet bricks’. Goal setting in our daily lives as well as our internal arts practice. The assistance of smart phones in your search for videos, class locations, tweeted articles, blogs, or connecting with practice partners. Recovery from personal traumas using an analogy of cups full of pain that spill over versus those that allow room to let the goodness in. Layers (gum, Ogres, and the Human, Earth and Sky stages of tai chi). And finally, oral history and generational influences.
New Class Alert: Christian will be teaching through the Chester County Night School program. Dates January 7th to February 11th 2015 at Henderson High School in West Chester. Fees $62 bulk rate per person for six classes. Wednesday nights at 7:30pm. Register at this link.
Shares/Finds: My recent book review “The Old Man From the Hill” for the Tai Chi website Slanted Flying. Thank you Steve Zimcosky and Guy Tomash for your faith in me.
Student News & Events: Marilyn, thanks for a nice Open House party for tai chi friends and neighbors. Good to meet folks and discover more about purple pool water, Ray’s grandson, Jiji’s humor, Chris’s Michael Keaton film recommendations, Jose’s ikebana plans, and Dick, thanks for the Elf on the Shelf comment. Affinity groups are so helpful this time of year. Internal art, open heart.
Social Media Roundup: Thank you to our new followers, sharers or readers on the following platforms: (Facebook) Charles, Andy-Janelle, Joey, Sajad and Paulo. (WordPress) First time readers from Columbia and Cambodia this month. Canada and the UK, thanks always for your growing support. And a shout-out to our one reader in Finland –original home of my late grandfather. (Pinterest) check out the boards of fans Dominic B. , Adam R. and Sara A. Thank you Sifu Anthony K of FlowingZen for your forthright revelations and investigation regarding a troubling subject.
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Be they the bane of your existence, or your pocket best friend, there is no doubting that today’s current phone technology is not without its place in sharing or practicing your internal arts. Even in the quiet car of a train commute, with your earbuds on, you can view many videos, from beginner to advanced, just by doing a search for tai chi on your YouTube app. You can even search your app store for various (free and paid) items to download, including “Yip Man’s Wing Chung”. If you are out of town, you can search your Yellow Pages app to find venues for tai chi classes (a sample search in San Francisco yielded several options for example), and then use your phone’s Map application to get directions. You want martial arts movies? Fandango and IMD apps are great pocket sources for reference. Instagram and Pinterest apps abound with internal arts images and inspirational sayings. Have an outdoor workshop? A weather app assists your precipitation or temperature questions. A fellow student mentions a tai chi book he recommended after class –Amazon has an app for that, just a few clicks and it is on the way (sometimes by drone perhaps?). Twitter has a growing tai chi community –while you are waiting in line at the supermarket you can read about internal arts’ impact on fibromyalgia through a tweeted link by @trutaichi. Mirror-less in the space where you practice on your own? Have a friend shoot a video on your phone that you can review and inspect your posture afterward. Looking for bloggers on the topics of tai chi and qi gong? The WordPress app is a place to start. And of course texting friends or fellow students for an impromptu meet up practice session or discussion is a convenient way to quickly assemble some supportive practitioners. Of course nothing takes the place of mind intention, breathing patterns, principles of Taoism and the physical practice of the forms, But even this ancient art has found another home on this ubiquitous, modern pocket wonder.
New Class Alerts: Don’t forget our Thursday evening class that used to be at the holistic pharmacy has moved to the Kokikai Akido School at 1209 Ward Ave in West Chester.
Shares/Finds: For our Boston-area readers, check out our Wakulla Springs workshop friend Marie F. and Boston Healing Tao for their October schedule of events.
News & Events: Thank you to those who attended our October 12 outdoor Tai Chi workshop at Miller Park, where we reviewed and practiced parts I, II and III of the Yang 108 Long Form. Join us at Dragon Gym in Exton on Sunday October 19 at 10:00 am to share internal arts learning with area instructors John Armstrong and Al Tolbert. Happy belated birthday to Claudia. Aruna says hello, has been busy with grandkids but hopes to return to classes in December. Don’t forget the Bruce Samuelson art exhibit at the Rosenfeld Gallery in Philadelphia is still going on until October 29, check out this video about his work. Try the upcoming Women’s Self Defense Class at the Blue Buddha Studio in Glenmoore on Sunday morning October 26, details here. Thank you Chris M for sharing your foot surgery story and how it relates to our “bubbling well spring” intentions in Tai Chi. The tai chi sessions at Wakulla Springs Florida with Master Huang (sifu) will be held October 19-26 for “The Soul of Internal Arts”, and October 27 to November 2 for “The Soul of Tai Chi Pushing Hands”. For lodging information and pricing see http://www.huangtaichi.com/calendar.htm
Social Media Roundup Thank you @lighthousetaiji in the UK for re-tweeting our last newsletter digest to their followers. Likewise appreciate oneanna65 on WordPress for showing support of same. Welcome new Twitter followers @MarkWBereton, @HathaHand, @Master_Waller and @ua_Vaughn. Yoga fans, if you missed Namas Day Philly, check out the video highlights from Carla Wilson @WilsonVA (Wilson Media Services) and Joe Longo. And on the West coast, Neida Bell is now following our Pinterest page.
Our instructor Christian has oft encouraged us to reach for the moon and the stars. Goal setting (in internal arts, as in life) can be as simple as week-to-week plan for improving something about your form work and postures, or as complex as a written down multi-year map of your career and family building blocks, spiritual journey, and mind-body fitness. Life coaches, career counselors, fitness trainers and the like remind us to write down our goals as a means to help us unlock details about the path that we are on, and to serve as a tangible ledger of the accomplishments we strive to complete along the way. Perhaps you wish to someday take a long trip, start a business, learn a new skill, run a marathon, plan for your ‘golden years’, build an addition, write a memoir, or gain a deeper understanding of your internal arts practice. They all start with goal setting, and the implementation of small gains over time. Vision, patience, diligence, perseverance. That is what each of us try each week, inside and outside of class. It is what keeps us moving forward and gives us things to anticipate. We have local tai chi students with varied goals keeping the shoulders dropped while practicing the form, improving their garden, continuing their massage therapy education, or landing meaningful and rewarding employment. Goals keep us focused and grounded. “If you don’t make the time to work on creating the life you want, you’re eventually going to be forced to spend a lot of time dealing with a life you don’t want.” – Kevin Ngo. What are some of your goals this month? Thank you for your readership support, and please enjoy my autumn blog from last September about the Chinese medicine element of metal ant it’s relation to seasonal health.
New Class Alerts: Spend part of your holiday weekend with us –Tai Chi class on Sunday October 12th, 10am to 12pm at Miller Park in Exton (behind Pep Boys). Christian will be teaching a Tai Chi class through Chester County Night School this fall. It is on Monday nights at 7:30pm at East Bradford Elementary School in West Chester, starting on September 29. A package of 7 classes is $72 per student. Use this link here to register through CCNS. The Thursday 7pm classes that used to be at Lionville Natural Pharmacy have moved to Kokikai Akido School at 1209 Ward Ave in West Chester Excluding the YMCA and CCNS, remaining classes are $20 per hour
News & Events: Christian and other local attendees say thank you to host Sifu Tom Hardy and respected practitioner Sifu Wei Lun Huang for sharing a great push hands, Qigong and Tai Chi workshop in Broomall the weekend of September 19. Congratulations to Jose on his Ikebana display at Longwood Gardens recently. Thank you to friends and students who joined us at the one year anniversary open house for the Blue Buddha Studio in in Glenmoore on the 27th. The Samuelson family is celebrating Bruce Samuelson’s exhibit at the Rosenfeld Gallery in Philadelphia starting on October 5 at 2pm, details here at this link. Claudia completed a continuing education program in Ashiatsu massage therapy at the Blue Buddha recently. If you are looking for a fun local fall-themed activity, I was at Milky Way Farm in Lionville recently –hayrides, pumpkin patch, farm animals, and their own creamery with top notch ice cream. The tai chi sessions at Wakulla Springs Florida with Master Huang (sifu) will be held October 19-26 for “The Soul of Internal Arts”, and October 27 to November 2 for “The Soul of Tai Chi Pushing Hands”. For lodging information and pricing see http://www.huangtaichi.com/calendar.htm
Social Media Roundup Welcome new Pinterest follower Bobbi Lopez. And in the Twittersphere, thanks for the follow @Master_Waller of New Castle Tai Chi, @Marinih, and @acgsilva. Thanks Jaime C for the invite to connect on LinkedIn.
With the change of seasons in late September, the recent Harvest Moon, and things impacting my personal and professional life this month, it is a good time (as a friend said) to let things go and start anew. In the past week I have had to practice the art of listening, understanding, receiving, and flexibility. Also a little more experience in the Daoist principles of communing with nature, and animals. And just like in our story about Velvet Bricks, I still need to keep reminding myself that though soft on the outside, one of my goals is to be strong on the inside. This is also a great time to ping-back to my September 2013 blog on Spirituality in Internal Arts. Enjoy! And as always I thank you for your readership, support and friendship.
September Voting Plea: Please support tai chi in your community and vote in The Daily Local News 2014 Readers Poll. Write in United Tai Chi under the “Fitness Center” category here at this link. Voting ends September 19.
New Class Alerts: Christian will be teaching a Tai Chi class through Chester County Night School this fall. It is on Monday nights at 7:30pm at East Bradford Elementary School in West Chester, starting on September 29. A package of 7 classes is $72 per student. Use this link here to register through CCNS. The Thursday 7pm classes that used to be at Lionville Natural Pharmacy have moved to Kokikai Akido School at 1209 Ward Ave in West Chester. Saturday noon classes at the Blue Buddha have ended for the time being, perhaps until next spring. The Thursday morning qigong classes at Miller Park will end on September 18. Excluding the YMCA and CCNS, remaining classes are $20 per hour. During construction, the Wednesday morning class at the YMCA starts at 7:15am and lasts 45 minutes.
News & Events: Welcome back Chris M. Happy Birthday to Deborah O, Chris S, Pat M and Ron N. Thank you to all the students who joined us at the new site for Thursday night classes at Kokikai Akido School building, and instruction from John A and Ted N for Sunday morning session at the Dragon Gym this past weekend –including the tai chi long sword. Be sure and ask Steve G and Phil G how their Harvest Moon tai chi practice went on September 8th. The tai chi sessions at Wakulla Springs Florida with Master Huang (sifu) will be held October 19-26 for “The Soul of Internal Arts”, and October 27 to November 2 for “The Soul of Tai Chi Pushing Hands”. For lodging information and pricing see http://www.huangtaichi.com/calendar.htm Also for those of you who can’t make it to Wakulla, Sifu Huang is holding a weekend workshop in Broomall PA this weekend, September 19-21 at the Masonic Lodge. Liu Hi Ba Fa, Push Hands, Tai chi and Qigong. Registration details are on this linked flyer. Also reach Sifu Tom Hardy for questions at 610-353-8609.
Social Media Roundup Welcome @BaguaTiger to our twittersphere, also Yat-Fun Y and Jorg B new followers on our Pinterest page.