Chinatown Tai Chi Center

Past News Posts

Newsletter for March, 2010
Posted By: Sifu
On March 01, 2010 at 00:00

Tai Chi and Massage

by Sifu

Often I've wondered what my life would be like if I had never studied tai chi chuan. In future newsletters I plan to share some of my tai chi experiences. Now though let me talk about some other forms of body work that I became aware of once I’d started training in tai chi chuan.

When I first began training in tai chi (and even up through today), we would often practice hard for a couple of hours and mostly it was three times a week. Sore, tired muscles were the result. Then came the revelation that many of the early tai chi masters would not only inflict pain and injury on an opponent to harm them but they were also trained in how to heal people with touch.

From that I had a growing desire to learn more about the healing touch. I enrolled in massage school and completed a course. It was a great experience. The results gave me such an appreciation about healing the body with touch. Later Ed took a course in Shiatsu and I was again so impressed that I took a short course to learn more about that type of body work as well. Massage has always been an important part of my life, whether self massage, working on someone else or getting a massage myself.

In actuality, massage and tai chi are closely related. In many ways push hands is like a massage. It is good for health and is a kind of "self massage." And one of the benefits of practicing the tai chi forms is that it massages the "internal organs."

Member’s Tai Chi Vignettes

My name is Chris and my first experience with Tai chi was in Michael Dotson's class at MCTC. I needed a physical education credit for the degree I've been working towards and I had read about the health benefits of Tai Chi. As the semester came to a close, I asked Michael where would be a good place to continue as I was enjoying his class. He brought up Chinatown Tai Chi Center. I looked up the school; however, it was ways from home. I chose to look into other schools that were closer to home. After my research, I decided that the drive to Chinatown Tai Chi was worth it. The lineage of our past masters makes this school feel more "legit" than other schools. When I finally get properly rooted into a form, it is obvious that this art has been around a while. I also like that there were multiple instructors - the more ways I’m told to keep my elbows down the more likely it is to sink in. One aspect of Chinatown I didn’t realize until I had been here a while is that Sifu Calph’s happy spirit brings joy to every class. Thank you, Sifu.

Getting Erika and Sarah to join me in this exercise took some cunning. My daughter, Sarah, likes the exercise and body strengthening she gains from Tai Chi. She also enjoys the company of adults who treat her as part of the group and not like a kid. However, I’m pretty sure that showing her some of the "intention follows your eyes" exercises was what really captured her attention. Erika, my wife, was pretty skeptical at first. I showed her the brocades, which she liked, but the whole idea of standing on one foot had her worried. I finally convinced her to attend a class to just watch; our wonderful teachers got her to join in - and yes, she can balance on one foot. Erika's glad that I encouraged her to join me and is feeling the health benefits. She also enjoys the community and laughter in learning. One of my favorite parts of Tai Chi is after the forms become internalized; there is a very calming aspect to practicing this art.

How's Your Tai Chi Knowledge?

Challenge: What is the fastest way to make progress in tai chi?

Answer: Grandmaster said that he fastest way to make progress in tai chi is just to practice. Just keep practicing, trying to make it better.

Challenge: In tai chi push hands we talk about developing "listening energy." But "listening" does not mean that we listen with our ears. So, my question for you is: What do we listen with?

Answer: In push hands, you listen with your hands and your mind, not your ears. You listen with your skin by using your skin as an antenna. You wait for your partner's actions and deduce how they will react. You learn to listen by touch. (acceptable answers are: hands/mind/skin/touch)


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