Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Liked on YouTube: Classical Wu Tai Chi - Taiji and Visualization Qigong by Classical Tai Chi's Master Stephen Hwa

Classical Wu Tai Chi - Taiji and Visualization Qigong by Classical Tai Chi's Master Stephen Hwa
Classical Tai Chi Workshop from July 2011, Buffalo, NY. Master Stephen Hwa of Classical Tai Chi (Wu Tai Chi, Wu Style Tai Chi Taiji). Master Hwa discusses Motion Induced Qigong and Mind Induced Qigong with a warning about the dangers inherent in studying Visualization Qigong without supervision by a teacher. Please see his website at and you can read an article about this subject at ( For further details see: In Chinese:
via YouTube Youtube Link

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Classical Tai Chi "learning paths" which can benefit those students who do not wish to be proficient practitioners

Video link of "practitioners" doing Classical Tai Chi Walk

CONTINUATION OF DIALOGUE: Some time ago Stephen Hwa, PhD who is the Master Instructor of Classical Tai Chi started a discussion in the Classical Tai Chi email "group" on "learning paths" which can benefit those students who do not wish to be "proficient" practitioners of the entire art. There has been very little activity in that group for some time, hence my desire to continue the dialogue in other venues such as Facebook, Blog and email to my students, some of whom have studied with him in workshops. The central idea is to tailor the teachings to a large and varied population, thus attaining a substantial student body and maintaining a viable school. In my visits to Florida and my correspondence with him I have witnessed his experimentation with this concept of "tailoring". I have also organized and participated in workshops in which he reiterated these different scopes of teaching. On the whole I see that he has extracted certain parts of the art which are suitable for certain segments of population, such as the elderly. Along with this is his extraction and iteration of how teachers can attain a different approach to initiate students into the art both keeping their interest high from the beginning and continuing right through the course. In gathering my thoughts on this I keep coming up against the thought that Classical Tai Chi has a very good methodology for dealing with one specific need and problem of the elderly that does not entail them becoming "proficient practitioners". This is so unlike many Tai Chi programs which seem somewhat "run of the mill". In their desire to "help" all of them they still take the course that students including such population as the elderly need to take the "scope" of how a "proficient practitioner" would proceed in their learning. To continue with this dialog I have outlined one "approach" to a very specific problem and segment of population.
There is hardly a lack of research programs and data that has been gathered which attempt to show that what can only be called "generic Tai Chi" can amend what are many characteristics in older adults that place them at increased risk of falling, including poor balance, loss of strength, limited flexibility, and fear of falling. On the other hand I have not seen any studies which have directly examined the influence of the internal discipline of a Classical Tai Chi “walking” or lower body practice on falls in this population.
There have been randomized controlled trials utilizing generic Tai Chi or Tai Chi-inspired exercise which were published between 1996 and July, 2007. The studies varied considerably on study settings, participant characteristics, sample size, type of Tai Chi intervention, length of intervention and quality of the study design. Of the six studies that used generic Tai Chi forms, three purport to show significant improvement in fall-related outcomes. One study using generic Tai Chi-inspired exercise also purported to have a significant fall-related outcome. In each of those studies however some type or variation of a Tai Chi standard “form” or series of controlled movements which teach “postures” was used. My experiences as well as those of my own teacher Stephen Hwa, PhD speak to the difficulty of teaching “postures” where it is somewhat of a cliché’ when one consistently hears statements on the order of: “I can’t remember, do I raise the left hand or right hand, turn left or turn right, etc when I do this” AND similar statements. This is the bane of students who start a program that emphasizes the rote memorization of Tai Chi forms and/or separate practices of auxiliary “exercises”.
Despite the evidence which purports demonstrating the beneficial influence of Tai Chi practice on known risk factors for falling in older adults, evidence indicating an actual impact on falls-related outcomes is equivocal. One wonders if a large-scale study that emphasized the specific parameters of “internal discipline” in Classical Tai Chi walking an emphasis on lower body training might be more meaningful. Might this type of study be able to be more consistent as an intervention? Might this type of study be more clinically meaningful in clarifying the role of Classical Tai Chi “walking” training rather than the larger scale of the entire art of Tai Chi as an effective falls prevention program. A Classical Tai Chi “walking” training program is already in play for the training of any practitioner who wishes to become proficient in the art. On the other hand, not everyone wants to become proficient in the art. Above all, might this type of study be organized into a viable research program and collection of data which does indeed show that Classical Tai Chi above all others can amend the characteristics connected with "falling" that I have outlined?
METHODOLOGY: Whether aware of it or not, each human being is faced with a dilemma in the form of what has been called “controlled falling” each and every time we take a step. In other words the center of gravity is NOT under control and we delude ourselves if we think it is. This is not to say we haven’t learned very well how to keep each leg (NOTE THE EXTENSIVE USE OF AN EXTREMITY THE 'LEG") moving fast enough to catch ourselves thus translating such momentum into “walking”. Is it any wonder then that we are subject to falling as we grow older, losing strength in the legs, losing feeling in the feet, losing coordination, etc. ? What has happened to the role of the rest of the body in this dilemma, "rest of the body" being the core or torso? In essence we are relying on the very mechanisms that were faulty to begin with to carry us through an old age that may also be fraught with disease. It is my contention in agreement with my own teacher that not every student who starts Tai Chi wishes to become proficient in the art. On the other hand, the Classical Tai Chi walking training has many facets, some are in the form of exercise, this also tunes the nervous system in the lower body as well as strengthening it and the walking training teaches the student how to maintain the correct body posture. Additional elements of the walking training teach the student how to integrate the principles of Tai Chi walking into everyday life. The essence of “walking” training is to teach the student to use “internal discipline” to direct the movements of the torso to move the legs.
The fact that we see many elderly as well as even younger people whose movements are really concentrated in the legs and feet (as well as arms, shoulders, etc.) and less on the core of the body is an indictment of already being on the road to deteriorating health. The torso is not being used, one sees people both young and old walking with unsteady steps.
EXAMPLE 1. One example of a “walking” training exercise might consist of having the student stand with feet parallel and visualize that the pelvis is a very real extension of either leg. With this visualization in mind the student raises either the right or left hip by using the abdomen and back to lift either right or left side of the pelvis, and this in turn lifts the leg. The student moves the foot forward and stretches the pelvis down until the foot is fully planted. This is how the leg movement is “internally driven” with upper body remaining still. and once planted the foot “pulls” the body forward.
Thus a comprehensive Classical Tai Chi walking program for falls prevention composed of numerous “internal discipline” where for example training exercises such as “Example 1” can be implemented
It is my sincere hope that those health professionals in the community as well as those who are proficient practitioners would also contribute to this dialogue on the efficacy of this Classical Tai Chi "walking" training. For example, what might the role of an Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, public health practitioner, senior service provider, clinician be who wants to address "falling" among the elderly in the community? Could an Occupational Therapist, a Physical Therapist, etc. be trained sufficiently themselves to implement the "walking" as a viable program or could they collaborate with a Classical Tai Chi instructor in such a program? Could there be such a collaboration as an implementation of a study or studies which do examine the influence of a Classical Tai Chi walking practice on falls in such a population as outlined in "Proposals"?
Please feel free to correspond to SUBJECT: "Approaches" . in an effort to keep this dialogue going albeit on this one "segment".
Thanks in advance,
Jim Roach,
Sifu, Classical Tai Chi of Buffalo