Four Self-Defense Tips (Just in Case …) By Mike Delaney

Most people will do whatever they can to steer far clear of situations that may take a violent turn. But sometimes, for some people, violent behavior erupts uninvited and unexpected. A quick ten minutes invested reading these four tips may save your life.

They are simple ideas, but not common. Since most people don’t plan to be attacked, these ideas don’t occur to them until they are remembering the event and thinking, “If only I had … “

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Grandmaster Zhu Tian Cai – Chen’s Taiji’s Quiet Keeper

The one lesson that Zhu Tian Cai cherishes most from his master Chen Zhao Pi is that taiji quan (tai chi chuan) is lively (“ling huo”). If you are accustomed to the fast kungfu pace, you wonder what is “lively” about taiji. You have seen taiji presentations during the “Masters Demonstration” at many wushu championship meets or festivals. In contrast, the audience is always more delighted at the rapid-fire moves, the high-flying kicks and the low-to-the-ground stances of wushu, from the sound of its applause. Yet, you are aware that taiji quan enjoys a high regard in the Chinese martial arts world.

A Mind Body Connection

AN OVERVIEW OF THE MIND BODY CONNECTION

Chinese medicine and Ayurveda are traditionally founded on the basis that good health lies in balance. In Chinese medicine it is the proper balance of the body’s vital energy (qi or chi), and in Ayurveda the three physiological principles called doshas need to be in balance for optimum health. The Greek physician, Hippocrates, wrote about the humors, or four properties, which must be in balance for a person to be healthy. Across these systems, we find that the balance between the mind and body is a key factor. There is a strong belief that the state of mind can influence the state of the body, or the other way round.

The Power of the Mind
Many traditional medical systems make use of the interconnectedness of the mind and body, and their ability to affect each other. There has been a growing scientific movement during the past 30 years, to explore the mind’s capacity to affect the body. Clinically, this is called mind-body medicine.

The power of the mind’s ability to influence bodily response has now become more apparent in the medical studies. The discovery of the complex interactions between the mind and the neurological and immune systems has stimulated much medical interest, and resulted in a rapid expansion in the area of psychoneuroimmunology.

Mind-body interventions are increasingly being incorporated as part the treatment process. These include psychotherapy, support groups, meditative activities such as yoga or Taijiquan, imagery, hypnosis, biofeedback, dance therapy, music therapy, art therapy, prayer and mental healing. We explore below, some of these methods.

Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy encompasses a wide range of treatments from combining medication with discussion, to simply listening to the concerns of a patient, to using more active behavioral and emotive approaches. Conventionally, psychotherapy is done primarily through psychologic methods such as suggestion, persuasion, psychoanalysis, and reeducation. All of the therapies can be undertaken either individually or in groups. Research indicates that psychotherapeutic treatment can hasten a recovery from a medical crisis and is in some cases the best treatment for it. Psychotherapy also appears to be valuable in the treatment of somatic illnesses in which physical symptoms appear to have no medical cause. These symptoms are often improved markedly with psychotherapy. In addition, psychotherapy has been shown to speed patients’ recovery time from illness.

Support Groups
There is a widely documented success with Support groups, which are proven to have a powerful, positive effect in a wide variety of physical illnesses, from heart disease to cancer, from asthma to strokes. The success rate could be related to 2 major advantages. One, that these groups help members form bonds with each other, thus empowering the rest of their lives; Two, they are low cost or even "no cost" (for example, Alcoholics Anonymous).

Meditative Activities
Meditative activities are self-directed practices for relaxing the body, strengthening it, and calming the mind. Most meditative exercises were brought to the West from the Far East, particularly India, China, and Japan. The health benefits have long been recognized, especially in Taijiquan. It has not only been explored as a means of reducing stress on both mind and body, it is often recommend as a way of reducing high blood pressure.

Some studies have found that regular practise of such exercises may result in lower healthcare cost. In fact, persistent practise increases longevity, quality of life, reduces chronic pain, reduces anxiety, reduces high blood pressure, reduces serum cholesterol level, reduces substance abuse, increases intelligence-related measures, reduces blood pressure, and lowers blood cortisol levels initially brought on by stress.

Imagery
Imagery combines both mental process (as in imagining) and a wide variety of behavioural approaches to encourage changes in attitudes, behavior, or physiological reactions. It has proven to be effective in the treatment of cancer to help patients mobilize their immune systems. It also forms part of a multidisciplinary approach to cardiac rehabilitation and in many settings that specialize in treating chronic pain.

Hypnosis
Healing by Hypnosis is the induction of trance states, through the use of therapeutic suggestion. Today, it is widely used for addictions, such as smoking and drug use, for pain controls, and for phobias, such as the fear of flying.

Biofeedback
Biofeedback is a treatment method using instruments to feed back physiological information to patients themselves. By monitoring the device, patients can learn to adjust, by trial and error, their thinking in order to control bodily processes; previously thought to be involuntary–such as blood pressure, temperature, gastrointestinal functioning, and brain wave activity.

Dance Therapy
Dance therapy has been demonstrated to be clinically effective in the following: developing body image, improving self-concept and increasing self-esteem; facilitating attention; ameliorating depression, decreasing fears and anxieties, expressing anger; decreasing isolation, increasing communication skills and fostering solidarity; decreasing bodily tension, reducing chronic pain, and enhancing circulatory and respiratory functions; reducing suicidal ideas, increasing feelings of well-being, and promoting healing; and increasing verbalization.

Music Therapy
Music therapy is used for people with developmental disabilities, community mental health centers, drug and alcohol programs, senior centers, nursing homes, hospice programs, correctional facilities, halfway houses, schools, and private practice. It has been found that music therapy is effective as an analgesic, as a relaxant and anxiety reducer for infants and children, and as an adjunctive treatment with burn patients, cancer patients, cerebral palsy patients, and stroke, brain injury, or ParkinsonÆs disease patients.

Art Therapy
Art therapy is used to reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, and express unspoken and frequently unconscious concerns about a disease. Besides its use in treatment, it can be used to assess individuals, couples, families, and groups.

Prayer and Mental Healing
Generally, there are 2 main types of Prayer and mental healing techniques. In one, the healer enters into an altered state of consciousness in which he views himself and the patient as a single entity. There is usually no physical contact and no attempt to "do anything" or "give something" to the person in need, only the desire to unite and "become one" with him or her and with the Universe, God, or Cosmos. The other type, uses the sense of touch to transmit an energy flow from their hands to the patients’ affected areas. Both Healer and patient claim a feeling of heat arises. Most studies in this area are not conclusive.

Conclusion
Such therapies or activities offer people the chance to be actively involved in their own health care. These are alternative approaches where our medical system nowadays is too technical, impersonal, remote, and "uncaring". The mind-body approach is a reminder of the importance of human connection that releases our own powers of belief that we can control the directions of our life.

Adapted from an article by James Adams.
Reference Source : Alternative Medicine – Expanding Medical Horizons, a report prepared under the auspices of the Workshop on Alternative Medicine, held in Chantilly VA on September 14-16, 1992. National Institutes of Health.

How to get a Proper Form in Taijiquan?

Here are a few tips to guide you when practicing Taijiquan on your own. These tips are meant as a supplement for those who have prior grounding in Taijiquan for at least 1 month. However, we still stand by the importance of a good instructor to check your postures for reasons of health as well as to avoid injury, until the time when you have acquired a certain level of mastery yourself.

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Power up your life!

 

Hey Lazybones! Power Up Your Life!

Do you ever feel like you’re getting into a rut despite your good life? You have supportive parents, and your friends, and good relationships, and a great job. What’s hapenning? Well, maybe you need to put a little more action into it. One of the secrets to happiness is being active. Keeping up an exercise will pump you up with endorphins, your body’s natural opiate. When your blood gets flowing, you’ll glow from the inside out. Want more good news? You don’t even need to gear up, and book a fitness class – it isn’t just calisthenics. Simply walking to the store, cycling that rusty bike in your park, exploring the neighborhood, and doing the hula hoop can make you happier, fitter, and firmer. Getting yourself active relieves stress and helps protect you from disease. So stop being a slave to the idiot box for a week and get out there! Real life can be so much more fun.

And if you are a die-hard workaholic and relish being the busy bee, take care not to crowd out your quiet time with your bills and your daily responsibilities. A good way to stop that fatal attraction with your comfy bed waiting invitingly for you, is to add a little action to your life. And one of the best ways to do that is to get your buddy to sign up a class with you. Take a class you’ll find physically or mentally challenging. Bring your buddy to each activity, and you’ll be more likely to shed your inhibitions and less likely to give up when the going gets tough. You will start enjoying your activity together with the sharing of experience. This will probably have a positive effect on you. What better way to spend time with someone (especially a loved one) whilst getting a chance to improve yourself – healthwise?

Fitness versus Health

 Exercise, for most us, mean making regular visits to the health-club and subjecting yourself to cardio workouts for a strong heart, step classes for a firm bottom, or weight training to get rid of the flab dangling around your upper arms and abdominal area. In order to ensure that you attend classes regularly, you make yourself pay a pretty bundle for a class (as you would feel the pinch if you did not attend). That cash you cough up was meant to compensate for that lack of self-discipline to do your own fitness routine at home. But will putting yourself through this entire health-club routine be a guarantee that you are on the road to health?

A walking mountain of muscles does not automatically equal health. In fact, that Ally McBeal lookalike in your office may be a lot healthier than those lean tummies who fog up the glass fronts of California Fitness every other day. So what is fitness? Fitness it seems is commonly perceived as the ability to do strenuous physical activity that will cause couch potatoes to pass out. The focus is on building up those muscles for strength and endurance. It’s a purely physical thing. Having a trim body does not mean that you are Superman and impervious to disease. Getting rid of fats here and there, and conditioning the muscles does not mean that your body is balanced internally. In fact, you may not realize it, but training in over-drive could probably result in strains, muscle tears or other sports-related injuries.

I think health goes a lot more beyond the physical. Six-pack abs does not a healthy body make. Bright eyes, alertness and a cheerful disposition are more distinct signals of health. I guess the one thing that stands out is an aura of wellness and of being at ease with oneself. Health would give you a vitality of spirit that shows up in daily life.

So what is Health?

I strongly believe that health is a state of balanced, internal flux in the body. This is a state when your blood pressure is just nice, your heart is pumping smoothly, your digestion is on target, your sleeping pattern is normal so that you sleep enough to recuperate after the day’s activities, the list goes on. Briefly, you are healthy when your insides are working at an optimum pace. To achieve this internal balance, the mind plays a pivotal role. If you have read a self-motivational or self-developmental book, you will know what I mean. A depressed person is also rarely a healthy one. If you’re feeling down in the dumps every day, how can your body be functioning well?

Getting started on the road to health

The answer to me is unmistakably clear. It is a very, very determined will to change your daily lifestyle – that’s the Golden Secret for you! In your battle to get healthly, your mind is either your greatest ally or worst enemy. Decide for yourself that you are going to break out of your current mindset and get ready to implement some lifestyle changes. If you cannot motivate yourself to do something about your health right now, then nobody will be able to help you. It’s a simple equation. How can another person even hope to help you if don’t even want to help yourself?

That’s right. You need to have self-discipline. Need help? Try this – nine tips to get yourself motivated. No pain, no gain. There are no miracle diets or creams and lotions to do the work for you. Sweat it out yourself. Self-discipline is the one, essential, primary ingredient to start it all off. Without this, your first burst of enthusiasm will likely peter out because there is not enough persistence to sustain your goal.

3-in-1 Activity

Next, find yourself an activity that will engage both your mind and body for a holistic workout. Could there be something that actually works your brain and works your body at the same time? Can you work up a sweat like that? Where’s the soul in getting your T-shirt wet and smelly?

But there really is an answer (for me at least).

Yes, I found it and it’s Taijiquan for me! Taijiquan is the best health insurance you could ever have. Let me lay the cards straight. It’s going to be a long and tough but enjoyable (if you’re willing) road to health. Now read on only if you are determined to make a change for the better, and if you stick with it!!

Taijiquan for your Health

Taijiquan is about re-discovering your own body dynamics. The emphasis is on finding your own strength and balance, from a series of systematic movements and rhythmic breathing; designed to help you do just that. Furthermore, Taijiquan is not purely just a fitness regime, it is, above all, a mind-intensive workout. The mind-body focus is required so you can evaluate your postures continuously as you work through the movements.

Breathing Pattern
All traditional Taijiquan styles should focus on getting you to breathe naturally (if they are the genuine sort!) as you follow through the movements. As you relax into the routine, your breathing should fall into its own natural rythm which would facilitate the flow of oxygen supply to your muscles and organs, thus increasing your energy levels. Also, as you progress into your routine, your movements should become easier to execute with each successive practice, and this should improve your ability to relax as you work through the motions. This in turn would help maintain your blood pressure within the healthy range. When you become more dexterous, you could actually practise for sustained periods of 1-2 hours without breaking in between, and without panting!

Attention to Posture
The routines are directed at improving your posture and balance. When achieving balance becomes second instinct to you, it helps to prevent you from injury. Due to the strict requirements for proper postulation, Taijiquan helps to develop your instinctive postural alignment so that you become more aware of your muscular, and flexibility limits. Hence, when practising, always ensure that you seek to maintain a continuous body line, with your head straight – relative to your body, that is.

Flexibility
As you practice the routines, you develop flexibility in the joints. You are trained to analyze how your body moves such that you could exert force without straining yourself. Taijiquan has been found to be beneficial to those suffering from arthritis. To go into a bit of specifics here – the wide, sweeping movements and upper-lower body coordination of Chenjiagou Taijiquan helps improve circulation to your extremities. This reduces the possibility of leg cramps and prevents varicose veins since you need to shift your center of gravity during the routines.

Taijiquan is not merely an exercise that will tone your muscles, increase your flexibility, and improve your balance; it is also meant to energize and calm you. It is a great way to loosen up the tension built up during a hectic day.

It is the experience of practicing and repeating the form every day that yields benefits. The inward journey it demands translates into stress reduction, muscular strength, and peace of mind.

Chenjiagou Training (Chen Village)

Many of you will have seen older folks in the gardens, parks, community centres and such, doing their slow gentle exercises in the mornings. Taijiquan nowadays is commonly practised with a very gentle and relaxed pace, such that it gives rise to the misunderstanding that this is what Taijiquan (or Tai Chi Chuan) is all about. Then again, most old folks taiji as a form of gentle activity than as a martial art, which suits them just fine. Read more