Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What Is Tai Chi?


Immediately, when asked what people understand about Tai Chi, they think about 90-year-old Asians in a park, moving slowly like astronauts on the moon.  And for the most part, that's a true statement, but as a fast growing exercise in the world, with about 85 million training it daily (source: http://qialance.com/how-many-people-practice-tai-chi/), there's more than Asians making it part of their lives.

I even had one friend of mine asked if tai chi was one of those expensive coffee house drinks; I told him, no, that drink would be "chai tea.”  

Tai Chi, translated, means “grand ultimate fist” and is a self defense, practiced primarily for health, balance and well being, an internal martial art that utilizes Qigong (or “energy cultivation”), a 3,000-year-old Chinese based exercise to develop its slow movements unique to itself. Some call it meditation in motion because of its benefits.

I've been a martial artist for over 45 years, training in karate, kickboxing and judo.  Tai Chi was introduced to me in the mid-1970's as an adjunct to my practice.  I wasn't impressed then about learning it, since I was young and interested more in learning how to be like the legendary and late Bruce Lee.  Little did I know, Bruce Lee's first martial art was Tai Chi that he learned from his father.

After about 20 years of virtually eliminating it from my workouts, I resumed my Qigong and Tai Chi journey when I was diagnosed with hypertension and needed to find ways of off setting the condition.  I heard that the internal martial arts was good for you but didn't realize how much until I reintroduced it into my life.  I was trained well by my instructor,  and it didn't take me long before I reached a strong level of competence. That was about 15 years ago, and I have not turned my back on it since, practicing it each and every morning.

The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi: 12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart, and Sharp Mind (Harvard Health Publications) by Peter Wayne, Md says that there are eight active ingredients that describe the martial art.


  1. Awareness, Mindfulness, Focused Attention
  2.  Intention, Belief, Expectation
  3.  Dynamic Structural Integration
  4.  Active Relaxation of Mind and Body
  5.  Aerobic Exercise, Musculoskeletal Strengthening, and Flexibility
  6.  Natural, Freer Breathing
  7.  Social Interaction and Community
  8.  Embodied Spirituality, Philosophy, and Ritual
And that the combination of the ingredients above completes a recipe for a full holistic mind and body approach to exercise that reaps tremendous benefits. The book is comprehensive and I recommend any Tai Chi enthusiast to pick it up and read it, if not once, but multiple times. It provides an intellectual perspective that I found astute, insightful and useful.

Types of Tai Chi

There are five different Tai Chi systems (Chen, Yang, Wu, Hao, and Sun), and one of them is far from slow.

To help you get an idea some of the differences, I've provided the videos below.

The first video is Ren Guang Yi performing an explosive Cannon Fist Chen style form.



This second video shows a wushu taijiquan practitioner in a competition setting combining the five systems into one that resembles a dance as in ice skating.



Even children practice it, so it debunks the idea that only old folks practice it.




And here is Jiamin Gao, performing a slow and elegant Yang Style form.


Links to Tai Chi Benefits

It doesn't matter which system you practice because they all contain the same eight active ingredients Dr. Wayne described in his book.

The next question is what makes this exercise so special?

Let's see how it works in practical application.  For example, with the new standards on high blood pressure, almost 50% of Americans now have hypertension.  If your readings are 120/85, you are now considered hypertensive, which would have been considered healthy in the past.

As a treatment plan, doctors are prescribing lifestyle changes that include moderate exercise, diet, and stress reduction instead of pills.

Tai Chi provides the exercise, mindful stress reduction and motivates you to a healthy diet.  I have a close friend of mine who began training with me after 40 years of corporate stress.  He was 278 lbs. with a series of concerning diagnosis and, after six months of training, dropped to 215 lb. with a healthy prognosis from his physician.

This ancient exercise and martial art are far reaching and the benefits extend to many conditions that affect all people around the world.  To illustrate my point, the following links take you to a series of Internet articles that gives you some idea:

High Blood Pressure

Cardiovascular Health

Cancer

Diabetes

Parkinson's Disease

PTSD

Depression

Weight Loss

Corporate Tai Chi

Pain Management

Elderly Balance


There you are, a boat load of information that gives you an idea what Tai Chi is and can do for you.

If you're near a school, I recommend you stopping by and paying a visit.  There's a Lean Six Sigma term "gemba" which means to "see the truth" with your very own eyes and learn.

Information is power and check out YouTube videos where the exercises and forms are there (at no cost) for you to review and emulate.

I understand that it does not, will not nor cannot replace a good instructor, but the benefits are there should you wish to train solo.  On another note, as with any exercise program, be sure to consult with a physician about Tai Chi, especially if you suffer from a chronic condition.  In this case, going solo is not advised where a qualified instructor would then be the safe choice; and, by all means, continue to read, research, visit schools and talk with instructors and students.

As an sensei or sifu, I tell my students that Tai Chi, in addition to the eight active ingredients, requires them to move, think and breathe and sitting at home watching network news or playing on a cell phone, tablet or notebook does nothing to promote good health.

You've got to move that body, be conscious of what you're doing, and above all, "breathe grasshopper breathe."

If you have any questions, feel free to email me and I'd love to answer any of your questions.

In the meantime, let the chi flow!

Courtesy of vecteezy.com


Friday, June 9, 2017

My Tai Chi Story





My Tai Chi Story

I’ve practiced Tai Chi for over 40 years, learned and experienced the tremendous benefits, how it’s kept me healthy, in mind, body and spirit.

What is Tai Chi?

Tai Chi (translated means “grand ultimate fist”) is an internal martial art created about 300 years ago, when a Buddhist monk observed movements between a snake and crane fighting.  The monk emulated these movements and created a method of martial arts.  Years passed and this exercise was developed into what we know now is Tai Chi and Kung fu.  

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Martial Arts for Seniors


Retired baby boomers with time on their hand are now considering taking martial arts whether it be karate, tae kwon do, kung fu, or tai chi. Though many have joined the softer and less aggressive arts like qigong or tai chi, a percentage of them are donning cotton white gis and attending karate classes. Some old timers in denial attempt mix martial arts till they end up the emergency room: Mind is willing but the body says no. Many that have decided to go back into martial arts after retirement are those with some experience, quitting, years back as lower ranking belts returning to finally earn the coveted black belt. Some do so after watching their kids through the years take martial arts but didn’t have the guts to take it then. For whatever reason, it’s something that baby boomers want to do now; a bucket list kind of thing.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Ping Shuai Gong - Swing Hands Workout




Everyone who knows me will attest that I've been a martial artist since bell bottom pants roamed the earth, training various forms of martial arts consisting of karate, Tai Chi and Qigong, movements, traditional exercises, some complicated and if not done right feel cheated.

As an instructor, I realized the benefits of these exercises, but fall short of providing a simple but effective regime that anybody can do.  Recently, through my Internet research, I came upon this unique form of Qigong that I'm going to say, after 45 plus years of martial arts training, answers the question of being simple and effective.  One thing though: It's boring but no worse than jogging.  Like such exercises you can offset the boredom by either watching television or listening to music.

With that said, I highly recommend it.

The video above is pretty cool with subtitles of all the languages imaginable (like watching a kung fu video).  As you watch, grand master, Lee Feng Sheng,  explains a mindset as the girls go through the movements which I like because it's informative, complete and inspirational. 

The goal is to do three sets of ten minutes.  The reason.  See below.

Every 10 minutes is a phase. 

In the 1st 10 minutes, it will activate your basic circulation. 

In the 2nd 10 minutes, it will start the work inside your internal organs & will also bear some effects on your brain. 

In the 3rd 10 minutes, or about ½ hour, you will discover that some of the hidden sickness inside your body will be uncovered. 

This kind of circulation will bring balance and harmony inside your body. And the hidden old sickness will naturally be cured & you will feel very comfortable.

~ Taiwanese Wushu & Qigong Master Lee Feng San

Read Testimonial

Anyway, check out the videos and let me know what you think!

The following is another helpful YouTube Video.


Enjoy and good health!!!

Sensei Domi


Monday, February 13, 2017

Another Great Video Ping Shuai Gong

This video is in Chinese but subtitled in English.  It has a long list of Ping Shuai Gong practitioners who have learned this simple and easy work out and benefitted tremendously.  I practice this everyday.  So simple and free.  Make this part of your daily workout and enjoy great health.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

STRESS!!!

Courtesy of paleoplan.com
I'm going to make a bold statement, and you may not agree with, but I'm going to stick my neck out and say, forget about guns and bullets.

What will kill you, probably, is stress.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The 70% Rule

Summer, late 1960’s, I earned college money by working in the Delano grape fields.  My Filipino co-workers were in their 60’s and 70’s, including my dad, who worked and moved about with ease and efficiency. 

Those of you who had the pleasure of doing this kind of work appreciated the conditions and methodologies needed to get through a decent ten-hour day (at the time 10-hour days were the norm).

As I struggled to keep up with this back breaking work, my dad would tell me to “take my time, but hurry up.”

I was young, strong and athletically fit.  Hurrying up was not problem.  Doing it efficiently like my dad and his compatriots was not possible.  I didn’t have the wherewithal to “take my time.”

Courtesy of essayforme.org
70 Percent Rule