November 19, 2013

Media Review: Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi

Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi: 12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart & Sharp Mind, by Peter Wayne and Mark Fuerst (Shambhala, 2013). US$16.95.
This book is a very nice comprehensive look at t'ai chi ch'uan (taijiquan) for the general public as well as experienced practitioners. History, philosophy, and practice are discussed, and a short form is presented with clear instructions.
A particularly outstanding feature is the lengthy discussion of how tai chi can be used to help maintain good health, and how it can be used as part of treatment plans for various illness. Doctors and other medical practitioners will appreciate the well-annotated information. Attention is given to integrating tai chi into daily life and into other sports.

October 18, 2013

Getting in Synch is Not Just About Listening

Here's some interesting research that could help us understand tai chi push hands: out-of-synch metronomes on a stable surface will stay out-of-synch, but if on a flexible surface will gradually synchronize. "Energy from the motion of one ticking metronome can affect the motion of every metronome around it, while the motion of every other metronome affects the motion of our original metronome right back. All this inter-metronome "communication" is facilitated by the board, which serves as an energetic intermediary between all the metronomes that rest upon its surface." Watch the video demonstration.

August 27, 2013

Thinking, Doing, Intention

What will they think of next? Uses of the power of the mind are familiar to taiji practitioners, but this?
"Right now the only way to transfer information from one brain to another is with words," researchers said. With advances in computer science and neuroscience, people could eventually perform complicated tasks, such as flying an airplane, and dancing the tango, by transferring information in a noninvasive way from one brain to another. "You can imagine all complex motor skills, which are difficult to verbalize, are just chains of procedures." See the full article at CNET.

May 12, 2013

Tai Chi Buff Wants to Redesign Computer Security, and Tai Chi for Posture

• Peter Nuemann, avid tai chi practitioner, in a New York Times article about computer security, compares computing systems to biological defenses, and finds them wanting.

For many of those years, Dr. Neumann (pronounced NOY-man) has remained a voice in the wilderness, tirelessly pointing out that the computer industry has a penchant for repeating the mistakes of the past. He has long been one of the nation’s leading specialists in computer security, and early on he predicted that the security flaws that have accompanied the pell-mell explosion of the computer and Internet industries would have disastrous consequences.
“His biggest contribution is to stress the ‘systems’ nature of the security and reliability problems,” said Steven M. Bellovin, chief technology officer of the Federal Trade Commission. “That is, trouble occurs not because of one failure, but because of the way many different pieces interact....”
A trim and agile man, with piercing eyes and a salt-and-pepper beard, Dr. Neumann has practiced tai chi for decades. But his passion, besides computer security, is music. He plays a variety of instruments, including bassoon, French horn, trombone and piano, and is active in a variety of musical groups. At computer security conferences it has become a tradition for Dr. Neumann to lead his colleagues in song, playing tunes from Gilbert and Sullivan and Tom Lehrer.
• In another recent article, the Times reports on computer-inflicted posture problems.
The expenses are huge as well. By one estimate that appeared in The Journal of the American Medical Association, the national cost of treating people with back and neck pain was $86 billion in 2005. And with back pain one of the top reasons for worker disability, missed work because of these aches may cost employers close to $7 billion a year, according to one study.
Exercise can help. And we all know that tai chi is one of the best ways to improve posture via awareness, practice, and with experienced guidance.

January 5, 2013

Using Tai Chi Principles to Balance Big Things!

Here's a sculptor who makes use of tai chi-like principles to create stone art. Michael Grab creates his work finding the center, balancing, and working with gravity. Don't miss the end of the video!

November 20, 2012

New I Ching Book and Movie

 The venerable gray-covered I Ching book on many people's shelves was originally translated and annotated by Richard Wilhelm, a German living in China during the early 20th century. His work was later translated into English by Cary Baynes. Finally, there is now a biographical look at Wilhelm, and the huge impact his work had upon Western thought. To see the trailer, follow this link.

The I Ching: A Biography
Richard J. Smith (Princeton University Press)
Richard Smith, who teaches at Rice University, has come out with a new book about the I Ching: Here Richard Smith tells the extraordinary story of how this cryptic and once obscure book became one of the most widely read and extensively analyzed texts in all of world literature. "In this concise history, Smith traces the evolution of the I Ching in China and throughout the world, explaining its complex structure, its manifold uses in different cultures, and its enduring appeal. He shows how the indigenous beliefs and customs of Japan, Korea, Vietnam, and Tibet "domesticated" the text, and he reflects on whether this Chinese classic can be compared to religious books such as the Bible or the Qur'an. Smith also looks at how the I Ching came to be published in dozens of languages, providing insight and inspiration to millions worldwide--including ardent admirers in the West such as Leibniz, Carl Jung, Philip K. Dick, Allen Ginsberg, Hermann Hesse, Bob Dylan, Jorge Luis Borges, and I. M. Pei. Smith offers an unparalleled biography of the most revered book in China's entire cultural tradition, and he shows us how this enigmatic ancient classic has become a truly global phenomenon."

September 30, 2012

In Memory--Bataan Faigao, Rocky Mountain Tai Chi

Bataan Faigao, head of Rocky Mountain Tai Chi, has passed away. The Boulder Camera reported that Bataan was terminally ill, and was on a pilgrimage to China's sacred locales, when he died. He is known as someone who really embodied a deeper sense of tai chi. He had a very quiet way of teaching. He is quoted as saying,

"T'ai-chi Ch'uan is a journey of spiritual discovery. I encourage students to work hard and to adhere to principles," Faigao wrote about his philosophy of teaching the discipline on the foundation's website. "I teach T'ai-chi Ch'uan as a complete system for health, meditation, self-defense, and as a way of the tao. Learning this art is a process that takes care of the external to get to the internal, going back and forth from form to application, understanding and experience."
Bataan was born Dec. 1, 1944, in Cebu, Philippines. He married Jane Greeley Faigao in 1966; she preceded him in death. They were lifelong students of t'ai chi ch'uan, studying with Grandmaster Cheng Man-ching in New York City from 1968 until Cheng's death in 1975. They moved to Boulder the following year and established the Rocky Mountain T'ai Chi Ch'uan Foundation and directed Naropa University's Traditional Eastern Arts department. A memorial will be held in Boulder on October 6th.
For the complete article in the Boulder Camera, click here.
"The Dharma of Taijiquan: An Interview with Bataan Faigao" by Edward Clark,
appeared in Taijiquan Journal (Volume 4 Number 4 -- Fall 2003).