December Theme: Honor

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"Everything begins in the mind. Create the intention and then apply the effort to receive the result."

"It is very easy to break a pencil in half. Breaking ten pencils in half is an altogether different matter."

--- Coach Ron Pfeiffer, 7th Degree Black Belt, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin USA


"Don't fear the person who has studied a thousand techniques one time. Fear the person who has studied one technique a thousand times."

--- Ed DellaCroce, 3rd Degree Black Belt and the North Carolina State Director for World Dragon Kenpo.


December Theme: Honor.

The Example of Staff Sergeant Salvatore A. Giunta

“I lost two dear friends of mine. I would give this back in a second to have my friends with me right now.”

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Introduction to Tai Chi and Qi Gong: Interview with Dr. Sen Huang


Tai Chi Chuan, which means “The Supreme Ultimate Fist,” is a historical Chinese martial art. It traces its roots to 12th century China. A Taoist monk of the Wu Tang monastery, Zhang Sanfeng, is believed to have developed this art. In comparison to other martial arts, such as Aikido, Kenpo, and Kung Fu, Tai Chi Chuan, or “Tai Chi” as it is known in North America, is considered a gentler approach. This is derived by the slower muscular movements compared to the traditional “harder” disciplines that I have referenced.

Purpose

The purpose of this art is to teach the student an awareness of their mental and physical balance, along with factors that affect this state. Tai Chi Chuan focuses on change, and how to respond to it. Students learn theories of physics as they apply to human motions. The flowing movements of Tai Chi Chuan relax our muscles, and utilize leverage among the joint systems for defensive or aggressive postures. There are three main components of this system: health, meditation, and as a pure martial art.

Training

There are several branches, or forms of study, such as Sun, Chen, Yang, or Wu Tai Chi. I will focus on the two most popular. The solo form highlights slower sets of movements with relaxing breaths, fluid motions, along with an aligned spinal column to promote proper posture. The second form concentrates upon methods of “pushing hands and stickiness.” This is done with a training partner where one learns how to attune to reflexes and coordinated movements. Some styles incorporate weapons, such as the sword, saber, and spear. As Lao Tzu, the author of the ancient literary classic, “Tao Te Ching,” wrote, “The soft and the pliable will defeat the hard and the strong.”

A Form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Research has indicated that Tai Chi Chuan has many health benefits. Flexibility, increased balance, and cardiovascular fitness are the most prevalent. Some studies have indicated that this discipline may assist those who suffer from arthritis and other joint maladies. In 2006, Coach Ron Pfeiffer became certified to teach us the Sun form of Tai Chi, along with Qi Gong techniques, by the Illinois Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation. TCM focuses on the treatment of blocked chi, which is the life energy force. Tai Chi Chuan promotes a healthy flow of chi throughout our bodies. In the Chinese medical perspective, freely moving chi maintains good health, and prevents many illnesses.

Expert Opinion: Dr. Sen Huang, Certified and Licensed Acupuncturist

Dr. Sen Huang is a Chinese medical doctor (C.M.D), and also has a Ph.D from the prestigious Shanghai Brain Institute. Dr. Huang used to teach Human Anatomy at the George Washington University. He now focuses on his growing TCM practice, http://www.huangclinic.com, but also acts as a consultant to GWU’s alternative health program at their medical school. Dr. Huang studied and has taught Tai Chi Chuan, and implements medical Qigong in his practice. I asked Dr. Huang to provide some of his insights and expertise for us.

Dr. Huang, how does Tai Chi help us both physically and mentally?

The slow, but graceful movements of Tai Chi not only help muscles, joints, and the cardiovascular system, but also help people's memory, focus and concentration. It is the art of creating energy and is also called ‘moving meditation.’ People can benefit mentally and physically from practicing it.

Can you please define medical Qi Gong, and what is its purpose?

Qi Gong (pronounced "chi goong") is a Chinese system of physical training, philosophy, and preventive and therapeutic health care. Qi (or "chi") means air, breath of life or vital essence. Gong means work, self-discipline, achievement or mastery. Qi Gong is a discipline that makes us to be more sensitive to the internal operations of our bodies, and helps us to reveal the body's place within nature's oneness to integrate our internal Yin/Yang balance with the universal order. Thus, through the active cultivation and deliberate control of a higher form of vital energy, we can achieve a harmonious integration of the human body with the universe.

Does the practice of Qi Gong reduce stress levels?

Qi Gong involves breathing exercises combined with meditation. It improves delivery of oxygen to the body's cells, reduces stress and stimulates circulation of blood and Qi, or the life force. This gentle art has been used to treat a variety of ailments. In addition, Qi Gong offers us a way to achieve a relaxed, harmonious state of dynamic equilibrium. Thus, it improves our overall health status, allowing us to maintain a life free from pain, and full of vigor and grace.

References

Dr. Sen Huang: http://www.huangclinic.com

Tai Chi Chuan: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tai_chi

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