Classes are still being offered at the KSW Karate dojo in Pine Grove, CA every Tuesday and Thursday Morning from 8:30 to 9:30 and at New York Fitness every Monday morning from 7:30 to 8:30. For those of you who cannot make it to morning class I am in the process of finding a place to have evening classes and will post new information about that as it is available. :)
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Another Great Tai Chi Class at KSW Pine Grove Karate Dojo
Yesterday morning (1-18-11) marked the third Tai Chi and Qi Gong class held at the Pine Grove Ko Sutemi West Karate Dojo. It was a small class, but still a blast. At the not-so-early hour of 8:30am class began and the students who were there began working on several of the basic movements that will prepare them for practicing the art of Tai Chi. The dojo, with its support posts standing proud down the center of the room, has the feel of an old traditional dojo, almost like something you would see in the movies. With the crisp cool air outside and the still quiet feel of a room meant for the improvement of the mind and body, we began to move. The slow meditative feel of Tai Chi lending a still, calm inward feeling to match the peaceful feel of the room. After working on several basic motions and beginning to develop a feel for the art of Tai Chi we focused for a while on foot work and the meanings of the movements, then brought the class to a close with Qi Gong that relaxed our bodies, increased circulation, and cleared and rejuvenated our minds.
Some people wonder what the benefits of an art like Tai Chi can bring them. many of us have heard about Tai Chi on the television, or in the news, but never really understand what it is or what it has to offer. Below I have copied an article from the Los Angeles Times that does a great job of describing several of the benefits of Tai Chi. I hope you enjoy the read.
---In Harmony For Health
Graceful Tai Chi Appears To Boost Immunity, Including Helping Elderly
Fend Off Shingles
April 24, 2007
By MELISSA HEALY, Los Angeles Times
In 12th-century China, a Taoist monk known as Chang San-Feng is said to have
studied the physical movements of five animals and concluded that two - the snake
and the crane - were best suited to overpower opponents who were fierce and
tenacious. From that ancient observation, the slow, graceful movements of tai chi
Today, with the art and exercise of tai chi growing in popularity, scientists have
found that older adults who practice this martial art strengthen themselves against
an opponent as stubborn as any - the tiny chickenpox virus, which can cause a
painful and often persistent nerve inflammation called shingles.
The new study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, is the
first - and most rigorous - of a welter of rigorous new studies designed to
investigate the health effects of tai chi. Also in the works are five federally funded
studies examining whether regular practice can help patients contending with heart
disease, osteoarthritis and cancer fight off threats such as depression, infection and
the pain of joint inflammation. Other studies are looking into whether tai chi can
improve balance and reduce falls among elderly people, and improve the well-being
of patients with HIV.
"Tai chi is clearly an exercise program, but it has something more," said Andrew
Monjan, chief of the National Institute on Aging's neurobiology of aging branch. "It
seems to be somewhat more effective than simple exercise and more effective than
simple stress reduction." And older adults enjoy it, he said, making it a therapy
patients will stick to.
For healthy older adults, the study demonstrated a striking immunity-boosting
effect. After 16 weeks of tai chi classes - even before they received chickenpox
vaccine - subjects practicing tai chi showed immunity levels to chickenpox (and
hence to shingles) that were comparable to those of 30- and 40-year-olds who got
the vaccine. After the tai chi practitioners received the dose, their immune response
surged by 40 percent.
Compared with a similar group of older adults who did not practice tai chi but
received a shot of vaccine and a 16-week health-education program, those who
practiced tai chi built stronger immunity to chickenpox and to shingles. They also
showed significant improvements in measures of physical functioning, vitality and
"It looks like a strong phenomenon, a fairly robust effect," Monjan said. Tai chi's
combination of slow, steady movements, rhythmic breathing and meditation appear
to offer a unique mix of benefits, Monjan said. It builds aerobic conditioning. It
relaxes the body's response to stress, which tends to intensify as people age. And it
increases the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain.
But which of those effects produces the powerful immunity-building responses seen
in the most recent study - or whether that effect is the product of some synergy
among those effects - remains a mystery, he said. Future studies may seek to
answer that question, Monjan said.
Dr. Michael R. Irwin, of the Norman Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at
the University of California, Los Angeles, directed the study, recruiting 112 healthy
adults in Los Angeles and San Diego counties, with an average age of 70. All had
had chickenpox at an earlier age and so had some immunity to a recurrence. But as
people age, they become more vulnerable to the virus that is left behind by
chickenpox - the varicella virus, which causes shingles in 1 of 5 adults who have
had chickenpox. The virus lies dormant in its host until a flagging immune system
allows it to reawaken and inflame nerves.
Generally, a dose of chickenpox vaccine will boost immunity to shingles, but in
older adults, that boost can be less robust than in younger patients. To test
whether the practice of tai chi had an effect on immunity to varicella (and hence, to
herpes zoster), Irwin divided the healthy adults into two groups. Although all
received a dose of varicella vaccine, half also received 120 minutes a week of tai chi
for 16 weeks, while the other half got 120 minutes per week of class time on a
variety of health-related topics.
Even before the vaccine was administered after 16 weeks, the stronger immune
response of the tai chi group, as compared with that of the group receiving general
health instruction, was striking, Irwin said.
The tai chi group showed an effect similar to already having had the vaccine. After
members of both groups got a dose of vaccine, the tai chi group's immune response
picked up more steam and was almost twice as strong as that of the group that did
not practice tai chi by the end of the study.
"There's a huge number of people who are not being adequately treated with the
vaccine, because older adults often do not show a full response to vaccine," Irwin
said. "That's what's kind of nice," he added, "that when you add a behavioral
intervention, it boosts the effects of the vaccine. ... The benefit was really found in
That powerful combination of medicine and behavior, Monjan said, underscored the
important link between physical and psychological health and pointed to a new way
- in this case, a pleasant and accessible form of exercise - to help combat the many
chronic conditions that accelerate with age.
Perhaps most encouraging, Irwin and Monjan said, is how readily accepted tai chi is
by older adults who try it. The slow, dance-like movements require intense
concentration and body awareness - both of which appear to contribute to its
meditative, stress-reducing effects. Trying tai chi does not require a high level of
conditioning or special skill, Irwin said. It is gentle on stiff joints and muscles and is
accessible even to people with physical limitations such as chronic obstructive
For 78-year-old Robert L. Smith and 74-year-old Genevieve Marcus of Los Angeles,
both participants in Irwin's trial, tai chi was a new form of exercise. But it became
one that the married couple adopted as a daily morning ritual. Smith, who has had
knee and hip replacement and says he's "fast at everything," said he found that tai
chi calmed and energized him. Marcus said it helped her hone and maintain her
balance and had become a welcome, meditative part of her day.
"We feel in harmony" after conducting the slow-steady dawn sessions, Smith said.
"We've just made it part of our routine." ---