The Chinese Internal Arts
issue 27 Winter 1999/2000


Hello. My name is Amandeep.
I am 9 years old.
I enjoy reading and drama.
I started Tai Chi class because I was called a Slow Coach in sports and because I had nothing to do. I hope Tai Chi can help me. Sometimes I get tired and hope other children my age will start Tai Chi. I think Tai Chi can help me in self-defence.
I enjoy Tai Chi.

Inside This Issue
* Foreword
* Regular events
* On Standing and Moving
* The Internal Arts Health Questionnaire
* Integrated Health Scare
* New Yiquan class
* A Trip to Norway
* Taiji Caledonia
* Qigong & Residential Homes
* Qigong Course 2001

Saying of the month:
The sabre is like a fierce tiger; the sword like a dancing phoenix; the spear like a swimming dragon.
-- Anon.

On Standing and Moving
(Muscles Imbalance - Basic Principles)

In this article I will try to explain one aspect of the standing Qigong practice and how it can help us in Taiji (and everyday life). To start with, here is a quote from an article by Dr Simon Kemp, Sports Physician, and Chris Boynes, Chartered Physiotherapist, based on their work of injury-prevention through detecting muscle imbalance:

"The relationship between the tone or strength and length of the muscles around a joint is known as muscle balance. When examining an athlete we need to assess stationary and dynamic strength and length. Muscles can be divided into two types: mobilisers and stabilisers. These two groups of muscles have quite different characteristics. The mobilisers are found close to the body's surface and tend to cross two joints. They are typically made up of fast twitch fibres that produce power but lack endurance. With time and use they tend to tighten and shorten. Stabilisers, by contrast, are situated deeper, invariably only cross one joint and are made up of slow twitch fibres for endurance. They tend to become weak and long with time. Functionally the stabilisers assist postural holding and work against gravity. The mobilisers assist rapid or ballistic movement and produce high force. Whilst initially both groups of muscles work in a complementary fashion to stabilise and move, over time the mobilisers can inhibit the action of the stabilisers and begin to move and attempt to stabilise on their own. This inhibition of the stabilisers and preferential recruitment of the mobilisers is central to the development of "imbalance" and is the essence of what we want to detect and if possible reverse."

I have been amazed during the last several years how a number of advances in sports science and sports medicine closely parallel body and mind use in the internal arts. This is just one such example, and a very good one.
When standing in one of the Zhan Zhuang postures (Qigong), it doesn't seem to take long before shoulder, back and leg muscles start to ache. Nevertheless, there are a (small) number of people who seem to take a positive pleasure in these postures. They can easily be dismissed as either being into SM or drugs (or both) and when told that with persistent practice you, too, could achieve this (un)enviable state, you think you are too old to listen to fairytales.
The reason our muscles ache is because we use the mobilisers (to use the terminology of the quote above) and they get easily tired. If we keep persevering, eventually our mind/body gets re-trained to use stabilisers and then we, too, can nod wisely when we see someone with trembling legs and offer the sage advice of "you'll like it eventually"! The better we get at using the stabilisers, the freer our body becomes. There are other benefits - for example when the mobilisers get freed from the task of supporting our body, we can move faster (our 'fa-jin' becomes better).
There are other important aspects of the standing practice, for example developing 'peng qi' (ground path), but I'll write about it some other time.

The Internal Arts Health Questionnaire
by Hubert van Griensven

Many thanks to those who completed the questionnaire last year. Forty-four women, twenty-eight men and three others (?) gave us information about their practice and the effect it had on their health. The results look good for Taiji and Qigong. Because the health benefits were very similar for women and men I pooled their results.

Hardly any of the respondents practised Bagua or Xingyi, so I have not been able to come to any conclusions about those arts.

Looking at the results I came to the conclusion that it was not possible to say much about the links between hours of practice or years of experience and health benefits. This would have required a more specific study, something to be done in the future, perhaps.

Most of the men were younger (between 21 and 50 years of age) than the women (between 41 and 70) and that the male practitioners were in a narrower band than the female ones. It would require a study involving practitioners from other teachers to be able to say weather this is a general trend.

The table shows health benefits that practitioners reported. The column 'Experienced' shows how many replied that they had experienced symptoms in that category during their years of practice. The next column shows how many of those found that their symptoms improved because of Internal Arts practice. Finally, I included other results and comments that respondents submitted. Some of these did not fit into the categories of the table and are listed separately:

For a statistician the numbers in this study are small, so it is difficult to derive any firm conclusions from this study. However, as a first exploration it is very promising. Several categories show that a large percentage of the practitioners felt that Internal Arts helped their physical and mental wellbeing. Those categories may well be worth exploring in greater depth and with a larger population in future. Fancy a challenge?

Sympton/AreaExperiencedHelpedOther comments
Upper Limb 19 14(74%) 1unsure, 1worse, 1poss.worse, 1unchanged
Lower Limb 21 15(81%) 1unsure, 1worse, 2unchanged.
Back & neck 41 34(83%) 3unsure, 1practice may have caused problem
Heart & blood Pressure 6 5(83%) 1unsure
Lungs 8 7(87%) 1unsure
Stomach, Bowels 14 9(64%) 5no change (36%)
Kidney & Bladder 3 1 2no change
Reproductive 5 4(80%) 1no change, 1'more relaxed according to husband'
Headache 17 12(71%) 2no change, 1worse, 3 unsure
Mental 37 33(89%) 4unsure, 1slight change.
Allergy 5 1 3no change
Weight 10 4(40%) 4no change, 1 unsure, 1 improved acceptance
Sleep 13 11(85%) 4no change, 1 was no problem but is now even better.

Integrated Health Scare
by Eva Koskuba

There were a number of new developments in our program to promote Taiji and Qigong in the health care environment and I would like to bring you up-to-date.

As most of you know, I was invited by the Prince of Wales to a reception and dinner on Tuesday 11 January 2000, at Highgrove, his home at Gloucestershire, to celebrate progress on integrated medicine and highlight the achievements of the short listed projects for the Integrated Health Awards.

The evening was very exhilarating for me as I have never had the opportunity to be present at such an occasion. I drove to Highgrove with Dr Peter Phillips, Chairman of Royal Berkshire and Battle Hospitals NHS Trust and Melinda Letts, Chair of the Long Term Medical Conditions Alliance. I was also introduced to Sir Alan Langlands, Chief Executive of NHS and could talk to him about Taiji and Qigong. But it seems I preached to the converted! - Sir Alan knew about Taiji and started to wave his arms around imitating Taiji movements. I also had the opportunity to talk to several medical doctors who introduced homeopathy, hypnotherapy and massage into their practice.

The Foundation was also keen that the experience gained by the awards entrants in setting up and running their projects was made available to a wider audience. Michael Fox, the Chief Executive of the Foundation came to the Battle Hospital in December 1999 for talks and demonstrations. They have also appointed Hazel Russo, with experience in research and policy development, to analyse the entries and produce information in the form of booklets and leaflet for practitioners who wish to set up similar services. Hazel came to the Battle Hospital in March to talk to the key personnel to find out how our project was set up. The judges of the Awards and the Foundation were impressed with the care and thought that went into setting up our programme of Taiji and Qigong Exercises in the Hospital and wanted to find what lessons can be learned from the experience.

As a result of the talks I realised that we need to set up some form of information exchange for Taiji and Qigong practitioners who work within the NHS. So we have formed Taiji and Qigong Alliance for Integrated Medicine with the sole purpose of compiling and sharing information. At the moment we have included a separate information sheet on our website and hope to provide more details as time goes by, perhaps creating a separate website in due course.

Dawn Hatton's class of Taiji and Qigong based exercises in Sandhurst Group Practice has been so successful that she was asked to start another such class for patients of that Practice.

As a result of our Battle Hospital project, I will give a talk to The Complimentary Group in the Royal Berkshire and Battle Hospitals NHS Trust at the end of March on the progress of our work and the benefits that Taiji and Qigong can bring. One of the nurses, who is a member of the Group and is responsible for the palliative care in the Gladhill Hospital in Reading, has also invited us to introduce Qigong in her unit.

We started to co-operate with other groups and I will go to Manchester to discuss a course entitled "Taiji and Special Needs" with a group of people brought together by Linda Chase Broda who has had a lot of experience working with special needs for the last 15 years.

If anyone would like more information or has some ideas or information to contribute to our efforts, please get in touch with Dawn or me.

Yiquan class (new)

I (Karel) have written a couple of articles about Yiquan (Dachengquan) in previous Newsletters and several students have asked me whether I would start a class on Yiquan. I have already been incorporating some of the ideas into my Internal Power course but time has come to start a separate class just for Yiquan. The reason for this decision is two-fold: Yiquan is a complete internal martial art and to do it justice, a separate class is needed; secondly, I intend to invite master Yao Chengguang to the UK to give seminars on Yiquan and it will be easier for both parties if there are some students who already know some of the basics. I will start teaching Yiquan on Sunday, 21 May & 18 June (the third Sunday of the month) and thereafter on 2 July, 6 August, 3 September, 1 October, 5 November and 3 December (the first Sunday of the month) from 14:00 to 17:00.

The cost will be 100 for the eight sessions or 20 for individual sessions.

For CIAA members, the cost will be 70 for the eight sessions or 15 for individual sessions.

A Trip to Norway

Eva has just come back from a short trip to Norway, where she was invited by Annette Thygessen to teach Chan Si Gong and Internal Power. Annette has been teaching Cheng Man Ching style of Taijiquan (37 moves Yang style) but she became interested in the Chan Si Gong exercises when she first experienced them last summer attending Eva's seminar in Norway. Her students and other participants of the workshop were receptive to the new ideas and Annette invited Eva for another workshop this autumn.

Taiji Caledonia

The fifth annual Taiji Caledonia will again take place in the delightful setting of Stirling University Campus, deep in the heart of Scotland. This year's programme features a wide range of practical workshops, lectures and informal discussion groups to interest everyone from the complete novice to the more experienced practitioner.

Eva has been invited to teach Pushing Hands and Internal Power over the weekend and Six Harmonies Qigong during the week. If you are interested, ask Eva for a brochure or you can find more details in the winter TCUGB magazine on sale now.

Qigong & West Berkshire Council Residential Homes

We were approached by the West Berkshire Council to start a new initiative in West Berkshire Residential Homes with our Qigong exercises to improve their mobility and balance. Nikki Payne, one of our instructors has started to visit four homes in West Berkshire giving regular Qigong classes for the residents. The care workers at homes then encourage the residents to practise on a daily basis. The pilot scheme will run till the end of March. Both the West Berkshire Council and our Association will evaluate the effectiveness of these visits and right up a short report.

Taiji and Business Community

Kathy Webb has started to teach Taijiquan in offices of First Mark Communications in Maidenhead. Their forward thinking director, Ciaran McCann, wanted to introduce Taiji for his workforce as he came across Taiji in the Far East and was impressed with what he saw. Hopefully, more companies will recognise value in having Taiji classes on their premises. We had already introduced Taiji in Microsoft and Prudential.

Qigong Course 2001
with Karel, Eva, Kathy & Dawn

We are hoping to start another three-year Qigong course for people who would like to teach, for people who would like to use Qigong as therapy, and also for those who would like to study Qigong for their own qi cultivation and development. The course will start in January 2001.

If you are interested in taking the above course, please get in touch with Eva, Kathy or Dawn. You can also discuss it with our existing students of Qigong course pictured below.

We shall set up an informal meeting for those who are interested on Sunday 17 September from 14:00 to 16:00 for discussions, meeting with the tutors and experiencing the type of Qigong we teach on the course.

Sunday Qigong groupTuesday Qigong group