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.
Follow these links to our social media presence on the web:
When more than one sign, hint, talk, message of a certain topic appears on your radar in the same week you can’t help but take notice. An out-of-state friend sent me a necklace in the mail last week with a Yin-Yang pendant, no doubt as a reminder to me to keep things in perspective and at peace. Likewise in our own tai chi classes recently there has been much more discussion of the Yin/Yang principles in our form work, including the grand example of the changing arc of Brush Knee. And lastly, this was mirrored by some interpersonal issues outside of class as well. The up and the down, the soft and the hard, the dark and the light, the earth and the heaven. In our internal arts study we learn that without yin, there can be no yang –a symbiotic relationship that keeps us from falling down, in more ways than one. In Laoshi: Tai Chi, Teachers and Pursuit of Principle, Jan Kauskas comments “Many people who come to study tai chi have been indirectly taught from a young age that expressing yang energy is wrong, and so they repress this energy, both in themselves and others. This does not mean the potential expression of yang energy simply disappears when repressed; it tends to resurface in various unhealthy ways. It disguises itself and emerges as passive aggression, depression, or other health problems. Because it is part of who we are, yang energy does not cease to exist if its expression is thwarted. It stays with us because there will be times when it is needed. Rather than deny our energy, we would be better off to become friends with it, to understand its place, or it may well destroy us.” Every once in a while I come to see, feel, or reluctantly admit to myself that, for better or worse, I have often tried to suppress the Yang in myself. Externally expressing the soft, the quite, the reserved or the polite, a yin display. But now the (golden?) roosters have come home to nest, and a keen eye might start to see the edges leaking out towards a path of depression. But just as in at least one other of my past blogs that allude to patience , fortunately there comes along once in a while a golden light of conversation that lets me know when I am being too yin, tame, mild, reserved or polite. Something reflected back in someone’s eyes, words or expressions. Here is hoping that you and I can all share in an equal amount of both sides of the circle.
Shares/Finds: One of our students Ted Nawalinski has some articles for Traditional Chinese Culture International’s blog site http://www.SilentTao.com which is run by his training partner Shawn Cartwright.
Wrap-up of recent classes: Reviewed a few pieces of the Golden Lotus Qigong set. Discussion about staying within your own frame or balance structure for difficult postures at first in order to feel comfortable in the position before you can grow. Growing like a tree de-stressor. In afternoon and evening class both, some more discussion and demonstration about Yin and Yang –the energies, the changeovers, showing where the yin part of a posture is and the yang (brush knee demonstration), also even in the eyes (yin/bedroom eyes vs. angry yang eyes). Coiling and uncoiling and how we find that throughout. Drills on ward off and scoop the water. The tailbone of the palm as a driver and rooter. The ‘pump’ that is our transition from heaven hand to earth hand filling up our ward offs. NEW CLASS ALERT: Through Chester County Night School the next tai chi multi-session class is at Fugett Middle School, 500 Ellis Lane in West Chester; both Monday & Wednesday nights 7.30p, June 16-30, cost $52. Purchase through Chester County Night School.
Student News & Events: Christian and some of our United Tai Chi students joined Master John Armstrong’s group at a street festival for a tai chi demonstration and music in Philadelphia this past weekend, photos available on our FB page; great weather and a great time was had by those attending. While visiting Ireland last month, Paul M found an interesting Tai Chi apparatus on a footpath north of Dublin Bay, see photo on our FB page. Claudia is off to Europe to spend some time with her folks for a few weeks, we wish her well. New early morning Golden Lotus Qigong class coming soon. Thanks Janet Rouss of Get Real Branding for finding our blog and sharing it with your Twitter followers. Social Media Roundup: In the twittersphere, welcome new followers @RaulPujolM, @JanetRouss, @RogerJahnke and @torontoben. Perhaps in prep for the Fifa World Cup Soccer tournament soon, a reader in Brazil viewed our Force Majeure blog topic. Inching closer to 3,000 total views overall on our WordPress site soon. Hey local student Ellen W, thanks for joining our Facebook page! Thank you to all of our Brazilian followers –World Cup 2014 futbol fans for sure (that’s soccer to those of us in the US).
Lionville Community YMCA, 100 Devon Drive, Exton PA
Fugett Middle School, 500 Ellis Lane in West Chester PA, pre-pay multi-session class Mon/Wed , through Chester County Night School. Starts June 16
$52 whole session
Lionville YMCA, 100 Devon Drive, Exton PA
Blue Buddha Studio, 1247 Pottstown Pike, Glenmoore PA
Lionville Community YMCA, 100 Devon Drive, Exton PA
Fugett Middle School, 500 Ellis Lane in West Chester PA, pre-pay multi-session class Mon/Wed, through Chester County Night School. Starts June 16
$52 whole session
Lionville YMCA, 100 Devon Drive, Exton PA
Lionville Holistic Health Center Natural Pharmacy, 309 Gordon Drive in Exton PA
Student practice session/no instructor: Lionville YMCA
Daytime private lesson available pending schedule, by request
Blue Buddha Studio, 1247 Pottstown Pike, Glenmoore PA
Follow these links to our social media presence on the web:
Some tips I read this weekend on how to build meaningful relationships in a wellness-based business or organization include the following: Reveal your authentic self, be a good listener, show interest (in students’ activities/hobbies/pets, etc), find ways to remember things that students or clients tell you, be of service, celebrate your students’ occasions, and stay in contact. Walk with me if you will through those gems, from a United Tai Chi history. Our instructor Christian has never been shy about motivators that got him started with internal arts, woodsy encounters (fugitives and the call of nature), cinematic preferences (“Kung Pow: Enter the Fist”) and the types of food that he likes (mostly “breakfast, lunch and dinner”). Listening …well having heard some of his students hold court on war history books, hiking, previous teachers, gardening, weather satellites, Vermont crime, commuting, road conditions, General Motors, yoga, Keith Urban, NCIS, social media, or past employers would certainly qualify him. Showing interest …the soap maker and local farmers markets, collegiate Tai Chi club activity, the music of a student’s son, syzygy and celestial body alignment, Ikebana, charitable organization entrepreneurship. Remembering things…well let’s just say that is a little more my specialty, though he does try to remember what a valuable asset his PR & admin coordinator is (still reading? Cool). Seriously though he knows his Wakulla Springs workshop mates from year to year, who needs help in what postures, who wants to shout out answers too fast, who does or doesn’t like some added qigong with their tai chi, who has a joint injury, and where the bacon is. Service… a condolence message on the loss of a loved one, a ride after an injury or accident, deer meat, a loaned book or video, Angel Tree gift transporter, Golden Lotus qigong review time, introductions, and thesis consultation. Celebrating occasions …. a birthday acknowledgement (shout out to Jane G this week), holiday breakfast party, welcome back from long trip away, World Tai Chi & Qigong Day, pre-trip training DVD night. Continuous contact … well I also like to think that is a joint effort that includes myself on board the ride of Emails, newsletters, texts, phone calls, social media messages; but also Christian’s in person individual attention to every student with questions or insights. I want to thank Keeley Mitchell from Zi Living, LLC for putting these relationship building tips into a list for me to see in black and white, thus helping us to know we are on the right path. If any of our readers with a wellness organization want to share a story on how you are connecting with your students, include it in the comments section of this WordPress newsletter.
Shares/Finds: Blogger http://mytaichijournal.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/film-friday-newtons-laws/ on how Newton’s Laws help us understand how bagua and tai chi can be used as a martial art.
Wrap-up of recent classes: Watery bones, double weightedness discussion, receiving and redirecting, and welcomed 4 new students to the afternoon class! Thursday (class 1) – thirteen postures, student leaders, and some foot work review for Apparent Closing. And (class 2) more detail work on Wild Horse Shakes its Mane and Fair Lady Works the Shuttle for part 3 of Yang 108.
Student News & Events: Thanks Marie for the nice Email. Marcia Z says hello and has been visiting family in Lancaster. Ray C has been away traveling to more tropical temperatures recently. Steven wanted to share that on Friday 2/7 at West Chester University (Philips Hall) there is a Chinese New Year celebration; see Steven for details. Stay tuned for a couple of sample trial Tai Chi classes at Eat Drink OM Yoga Café in West Chester 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 Shannon R [Chinese Tao] http://en.gravatar.com/chinesetaoistarts for ‘liking’ our WordPress blog last week “Passport”. Welcome kung fu competitor Bruno @HBK2798 in San Diego , @tonygetson, and Chinese KungfuWush @sifubinh from Massachusetts to our Twittersphere and John M a hockey player to our WordPress subscribers. Facebook fans of the day, South American flavor: Patricia G from Ecuador who is multi-lingual; and musician Patrick H of Chile.
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.
In the world of internal arts, the term “Crush” corresponds to the wood element in Chinese medicine and is part of the 5 element Hsing-Yi practice and energy matrix of the universe in Taoist cosmology. It aims to mimic a fist growing out of the body, or an arrow darting. In 2013, in my journey back to amateur writing, blogging, journaling, columns or essays, that energy matrix has yielded personal influencers of a crush-worthy nature. Artisans who have begun to show me that who I am on paper (or screen) is meaningful, worthwhile and still relates to internal arts and Tai Chi. That I see vindication of my style or approach in some of their writing is further encouragement that I have been on the right path. I used to wonder if throwing the occasional pop-culture or non-internal arts reference and humor into one of my newsletters was off-putting or un-relatable. That is until I discovered the books and podcasts of Paul Read (“The Beancurd Boxer”) who’s work has shown me, that for a relative beginner who has come to this art late in life (not a Karate Kid was I), it is a little easier to grasp something when crafted in my own language (see his crazy funny One Last Thing: The History of the Martial Arts Philosophy). I also want to thank Mark Saltveit (The Tao of Chip Kelly), Tim Larkin (Survive The Unthinkable), Mark Salzman (Iron and Silk), Sifu Anthony K (Flowing Zen blogs and articles), Peter Wayne (The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi), Deng Ming-Dao (The Wandering Taoist) Gail Reichstein (Wood Becomes Water) Dan Kleiman (Qi Gong Radio podcasts) and Bruce Frantzis (energyarts.com) whose words or voices I have been fortunate to have encountered or were recommended to me. Outside of Tai Chi, though still journalists I geek out over, I want to also mention music writers Peter Cooper, Brian Mansfield and Robert K. Oermann. Lastly, a special honorable mention of Owen Gleiberman who I have followed now and again over the years and whose amazing recent article for Entertainment Weekly about Robert Redford’s career inspired me to change my digest topic this weekend http://insidemovies.ew.com/2013/11/30/robert-redford-is-an-underrated-actor/Just like Tai Chi, writing is an art and a discipline, inspired from the heart, requiring practice and patience. And I want to thank students and teachers of United Tai Chi and all of our readers for sharing both with me this year. I was fortunate to have also found, in our instructor Christian, a ‘voice’ who’s teaching style resonates with the type of learner/listener/reader/writer that I am.
New class alert: Starting January 6th, six session Monday night tai chi class at East Bradford Elementary School in West Chester, 7.30pm. $62 pre-pay, and you order course #14WFH710 from http://www.chestercountynightschool.org. Please read their snow/closure policy for classes held inside a school building.
Wrap-up of recent classes: ‘Serve the fruit’ warm-ups, right side Tai Chi and Left side Tai chi, thirteen postures. Inhale and exhale stories. Cleansing breath, gathering breath, calming breath. Neck exercises as part of the standing 10. Finger and palm connections in “press” and “shoulder strike”. Eight pieces of brocade. Parts I and II of Yang 108. Thanksgiving take-away: seeing my 3 year old grandnephew demonstrate a great rendition of “folding”.
Student News & Events: Annual holiday breakfast thank you for Christian, Friday December 6 at 8:45am (following the morning class) at Penn’s Table, 268 Eagleview Blvd in Exton. Truck loading day for our Angel Tree youth sponsor gifts you guys helped contribute for is Thursday morning December 5 at the Lionville Y. An early Christmas present—reached 1,000 Facebook followers! Red Cross blood drive Friday December 20 also at the Lionville Y, join our life saving mission with a donor appointment at http://www.redcrossblood.org and use our sponsor code of lionville (or sign up at the Y). Welcome back Carl to the morning classes. Welcome a reader in Croatia to our WordPress newsletter. Welcome @aharkins1 from Florida and @LoveLightandQi from the UK to our Twittersphere. Rest in peace to a fallen outdoorsman, marine biology fan, humanitarian/activist, film actor and Brazillian ju-jitsu student, Paul Walker this past weekend.