Past News Posts
Posted By: Sifu Calph
On June 14, 2011 at 17:54
The teacher learns twice
Every week when I drive to teach at our current Lauderdale location, I am grateful for all of our students who drive from various locations in the city to practice tai chi. As I travel, I'm also reminded of what it took to make this school a reality.
Back in 1992 there were no schools in the Twin Cities that taught the Yang Cheng-Fu style of tai chi chuan that we teach. In order to learn this style, I had to travel to train with Grandmaster Wong at his headquarters school in San Francisco. It was a 2,000 mile trip for each session of training.
And after each of these sessions, I was never sure if I could remember all the things I had learned once I got back from the 4,000 mile round trip. I just kept rehearsing Grandmaster's advice to me: "Just practice what you have learned so far and don't worry about what you haven't learned yet."
Fortunately for me, when I returned from those training trips, I taught everything that I had learned to my own students. As the saying goes: "The teacher learns twice." I "learned" whenever Grandmaster taught me. And I "learned" every time I taught to others what my teacher had taught to me. To this day, I continue to encourage all of my advanced students not just to learn but to teach.
Nearly two decades since I began training with Grandmaster Wong, there now exists a Yang Cheng-Fu style school in the Twin Cities. Students no longer have to travel to the West Coast in California to learn the original "Yang Family" style. And just in case you're wondering how Grandmaster Wong learned this style--the answer is that he himself traveled thousands of miles in order to train with his own teacher, Professor Hu Yuen-Chou in Hong Kong.
Eastern Science Confirms Health Benefits
by Kathy White
We all know intuitively that our practice of tai chi improves our physical well-being along with our spiritual and emotional well-being. Did you also know that this has been demonstrated scientifically many times?
Most research on the health benefits of tai chi have been conducted in the elderly population. And in the elderly, tai chi provides many health benefits including improved balance and prevention of falls. Until recently, younger populations had not been studied to see if tai chi conferred health benefits.
Recently a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Health Promotion Internation, (Vol. 19, No. 1, pp 33-38), examined the health benefits of tai chi in middle-aged women. It was a small study with significant findings. Seventeen sedentary but healthy women aged 33-35 were enrolled in a 12-week tai chi program that met three times a week. A group of similar women matched for age, body size, and activity were also monitored as a control group. At the end of the twelve weeks, the women who actually did the tai chi had significantly improved dynamic balance, flexibility and kinesthetic sense.
The most impressive finding was a significant decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure in the tai chi group. The study had some limitations, as do all studies, but it supports the notion that tai chi practice confers a significant health benefit to those who engage in the practice of tai chi--or at least in middle-aged women.
It is not only our Eastern style intuitive knowledge but also a demonstrated Western style fact. When friends ask you why you do tai chi, share this good news with them!
Tao Te Ching
In the pursuit of learning, every day something is acquired.
In the pursuit of Tao, every day something is dropped.
Less and less is done
Until non-action is achieved.
When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.
The world is ruled by letting things take their course.
It cannot be ruled by interfering.
What a refreshing way to be reminded that our world has become too complicated. How impatient I get when my smart phone doesn't respond fast enough! Instead of playing Angry Birds, maybe I should just listen to the birds.
In tai chi terms, we are reminded that simple and efficient movements in the form are correct. But what is non-action? It can't mean that standing still is the Tao: well, no. But in addition to the simplicity and efficiency of movement, subtlety has an important place in both the form and in the partner work. Subtle movements: the slight turning in of the toe, the pressing out of the back knee, the focus outward instead of down; these subtle movements look like "non-action" but make all the difference in success. The form directs us in big circles, to teach us how, and partner work uses small circles to efficiently direct chi and uproot the partner.
One of Lao Tsu's recurring themes is to warn leaders to refrain from interfering in the lives and pursuits of the people. The last lines are a reminder to guide and redirect, instead of using force against force in partner work. It might also be the way to raise strong-willed children and train rose vines.