Tai Chi, health and quality of life.

I started learning Tai Chi in about 1988. My teacher had talked about how relaxing it was, and being 20 years old, with two parents dying from cancer, working full time, and going to college full time I was a little overwhelmed. Needless to say, it worked wonders on my stress levels. For many years we practiced much like most Tai Chi students do, until my Sifu started training with Master Ting, only then did we start to glimpse how much we didn’t know. In 2005 my teacher passed the school onto me, and I started training with Master Ting myself and I was greatly intimidated. Not by him, for you will not meet a more humble, approachable and sincere man. I was awe struck by the depth and complexity of the art. I saw the differences between our practice and that of what we used to do and I asked him, “how do you tell someone they are doing it wrong?” He chuckled and said, “well first of all, you do not say they do wrong, you say we do differently.” It is a very gracious way to phrase it but the Tai Chi Classics go back to about 1200, 1600 and 1800 AD, with specific guidelines in the publications.
When I first started teaching in 1998, I had no idea how much I didn’t know, but I was moved by the stories of people who said how much it had helped them, and how much better they felt. Later I realized that they were experiencing such results and I wasn’t even doing it correctly, so they must feel much better if they did it right.
In the years since I have had many opportunities to help people with various conditions and afflictions. The list goes includes arthritis, fibromyalgia, disk issues, migraines, chronic knee, back and neck pain. Perhaps the most profound effect that practice has is teaching the ability to relax, which does wonders for the nervous system. Secondly is low impact exercise, but more importantly, correctly positioning the body so the joints work according to their design. This surprises people when you show them there is more than one way to bend a joint. It is a difficult process, teaching the body a new way of movement after a lifetime of incorrect use, but in this way the space between joints open instead of closing and grinding against itself. Some of our greatest success stories come from a 70 year old nurse who could not stand more than 20 minutes due to fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis, now she does four hour tai chi workshops and has hiked in New Zealand. We have a 69 year old man who is competing in his first obstacle course race next month. Bob, a 66 year old man scoliosis, and three ruptured disks, yet moves with the grace and power of a man half his age. There are many other examples, but they all go back to the same root, which is understanding the correct way to move, position and unify the body movements. The effects will ripple through your life in all your activities. It is truly a great way to not only stay active, but opens a door to things that seem past us. Just do your homework and make sure where you are learning from is emphasizing the foundation laid out so well in the Tai Chi Classics.