Tai chi with music by Bach

Saw this video online, had to share it with my Tai Chi friends. So beautiful!

This is slow to load, but be patient, it’s worth it. Or, go to the site I found this on, https://vimeo.com/109624358

Teaching Tai Chi to Robert De Niro

Here’s an interesting article about Robert De Niro learning Tai Chi for his latest movie, The Intern.

The article points out that Tai Chi is not the easiest thing to learn, and that the routine was customized for filming. We tend to customize a lot of moves in Tai Chi, not for filming, but for more practical purposes, making the move safer and easier for those who have a more limited ability or range of motion. If a move feels wrong or uncomfortable for you, please ask your instructor for ways to modify the movement to fit your body.

Remember, if Robert De Niro, who is 71 years old, can learn Tai Chi, it’s not too late for you to start!

Tai Chi demo at North Springs Charter High School

Gathering, part of the closing form

Gathering, part of the closing form

Jiaxing Weng, Mandarin Chinese Teacher at the North Springs Charter High School, invited members of the Kaikudo Studio to do a martial arts demonstration at the school’s international fair. 9 of us participated in the tai chi demonstration, showing the Yang Style 24 form to students and parents.

Shown below are from are practice session before the actual demonstration. Participating, in no particular order, are Jiaxing Weng, her parents, Mike Shallow, Teresa Chapman, Farida Shums, Jan Miles, Pam Hoback and myself, Jan Stittleburg.

Fan Thru The Back form

Fan Thru The Back form


Single Whip form


Ward Off form

Celebrate World Tai Chi Day April 25th

Saturday, April 25th, at 10AM, people around the world will be going outdoors to celebrate World Tai Chi day. Come join us at Mountain Park Park, 5050 5 Forks-Trickum Rd, Lilburn, GA 30047. We will meet behind the tennis courts, close to the children’s play area on the Pounds Road side. This is free and open to all, beginners or those with lots of practice. We will start with the Yang style 10 form, go thru the Yang style 24 form, and then do some Wudang styles too.

If you’ve never done Tai Chi before, this is a great opportunity to try it yourself. Practicing in the part is very energizing! World Tai Chi day is celebrated in 100s of cities, spanning 80 nations, people come together, to breathe together, providing a healing vision for our world.

Note, the weather forecast is not particularly encouraging, if it’s raining, stay home and dry. But we’ll meditate on generating a nice morning for Saturday.

Ta Chi Fan

My latest endeavor in learning Tai Chi has been doing the Tai Chi Kung Fu Fan style. It’s been a lot of fun, even though as the only non-Chinese speaker in the class I missed out on a lot of the commentary, I did learn a lot just by watching Master YunXiu Yang.

One of her other students came by and recorded a portion of the form, you can watch it here. I’m the red blob way in the back – it was a bit blustery and cold out that day.

The whole form starts with a slow section, then 2 fast sections, a very brief break, another fast section and ends up with another slow section. Some of the forms are similar to the forms in regular Tai Chi, such as Grasp the Sparrow’s Tail, and Snake Creeps Down. I don’t know Kung Fu, but I expect many of the forms relate to that art. I don’t know the whole history of the fan in Tai Chi, it appears that this set of forms was developed in the past 50 years. Tai Chi fan has been used in the past as a weapon, with blades attached to the tips of the bamboo strips. As a short weapon, it can be hidden easily in the clothing, and then used to block or parry sword or staff blows, and even used to thwap someone on top of the head.

Here’s another video, this time of people who know the form and do it quite well – I hope to be in that class someday. Maybe I’ll post a video of myself then.

Tai Chi for Stress Relief

We all have stress in our days, sometimes it’s the stress of too much work, sometimes it’s the stress of boredom. Exercise is one of the best ways to deal with stress, and Tai Chi is supreme at stress relief.

One of my students last night mentioned that she always slept better after class. Others have reported sleeping better for 2 or 3 nights after just one class. And all of my students leave Tai Chi feeling calmer and more relaxed.

Practicing balance in Tai Chi

Practicing balance in Tai Chi

What makes Tai Chi so effective? It’s a combination of mental, physical and breath focusing in harmony. The mind leads the motion, including the physical motions of the body and the internal energy movement. Breathing slowly in harmony with the movement increases intake of oxygen, which sends more energy through the body. Exercise in general has been proven to increase endorphins which can improve your mood and relax you. Plus, the movements of Tai Chi were designed with a purpose, for martial arts, and for effective use of the energy flow throughout the body.

Another student of Tai Chi, Michelle Thorns, recently wrote a great blog on stress. Enjoy her post, and may your stress be relieved by doing Tai Chi.

What is Tai Chi Quan?

With much gratitude to Peter Stephen Williamson, a tai qi coach at the University of Cape Town, who wrote the following article. He explains Tai Chi in a different way. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

What is Tai Qi Quan ?
It originated as a Martial Art a long, long time ago, but has now become an art in which one learns to overcome one’s ultimate enemy – the ego-centric self.
Sometimes called “Moving Mediation”, Tai Chi Quan encourages one to slow the mind and the body to, ultimately, connect to the Universal Rhythm, the Pulse of the Universe.
In this endeavour we discover a great deal about our selves and, in the long run, become healthier, more tranquil, more tolerant, and this change is usually remarked upon by our friends or “outsiders”.

What is the purpose of Tai Qi Quan ?
The purpose is to connect to the Universe, find and develop the Qi within us, to slow down in all that we think and do, and to become a ‘better’ person in thought, word and deed.
The Principles or Philosophy of Tai Chi Chuan are compatible with all “religions” and areas of thought and do not discriminate between them, ever. You, the individual, carry the Heavenly Qi (energy) within you and learn to use it for the betterment of the self and of the world.

Is it religious ?
No! It is a non-discriminatory philosophy that is inherent in all religions. There is a “spiritual” aspect which is touched on when we talk about “heavenly Qi” and “the Universe”, and the “Qi” or “spirit” that is within us all. If we “attach” to words then we discriminate and differentiate. ALL Creation comes from One Creator, known by many names, but which is the source of all life and existence.
Although terms may appear “physical” and “forceful” we endeavour to perceive our “push” as projecting love, compassion, benevolence, tolerance and acceptance to all beings. Our “punch” becomes a rejection or pushing away of OUR desires and egos – our self focusing “self”.

Peter Stephen Williamson,
Tai Qi Coach at University of Cape Town

Tai Chi helps with memory, increases brain size

According to an article, dated June 19, 2012, that was forwarded to me researchers from University of South Florida and Fudan University in Shanghai found increases in brain volume and improvements on tests of memory and thinking in Chinese seniors who practiced Tai Chi three times a week.

Based on an 8-month study,those who practiced Tai Chi showed increases in brain volume and more limited cognitive improvements in a group that participated in lively discussions three times per week over the same time period. It is noted that aerobic exercise has been shown to increase brain size as well, but this was the first time a non-aerobic exercise was tested and found to be effective.

Studies show that dementia and gradual cognitive deterioration is associated with the shrinking of the brain, as the nerve cells and their connections are gradually lost. This could also mean that Tai Chi can help prevent Alzheimers, by keeping the brain healthy and active.

With thanks to the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, which originally published the research.

Thanks, Eastside Medical!

This past Saturday Eastside Medical Center and Gwinnett Parks joined forces to present Live Health Gwinnett, encouraging Gwinnett residents to live healthy and invest in personal wellness. The big event was held at Eastside Medical, featuring booths for the kids and adults to learn what the local parks had to offer, health screenings and yes, Tai Chi. I am grateful for the opportunity to let people know what Tai Chi is, and hear from people who have done it in the past and were helped by it.

Tai Chi is available thru Gwinnett Parks and Recreation at two locations, at the Bethesda Senior Center, and at Mountain Park Activity Building, where I teach on Tuesday evenings. Tai Chi is great for all ages, it doesn’t require extra equipment, and can be modified to suit any ability level. Tai Chi encourages the movement of mind, body and spirit, or breath, in harmony, creating energy while toning muscles.

Keep an eye on Live Healthy Gwinnett’s Facebook page for photos of Saturday’s event, and events scheduled for May and June. Thanks again to Eastside Medical and Gwinnett Parks for promoting healthy living!

Tai Chi tidbits

First Lady Michelle Obama tries Tai Chi during her recent visit to China Note, it is not recommended to do Tai Chi in high heels.