Acknowledging one's teachers in Tai Chi practice is a vital part of keeping their legacy alive. More than this, their stories help us understand the forces that shaped them, including the social, cultural and geographical contexts in which they learned and practised.
In a multicultural country like Australia our teachers are shaped by similar forces including war, migration, health, racism, language barriers and opportunities for work.
As a student, how much do you know about the your teacher's heritage and life experience? How would you describe the forces which shaped the person who also shapes you?
How would you describe your own Tai Chi heritage?
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
I want to keep learning and be inspired so Newsletters and information are very helpful. It would be great to have more members like myself who are not instructors or experts but merely people who have an interest and want to learn and develop further.
For those who live in the country and cannot attend meetings and functions, it would be good to get to know other SA TCAA members through profiling similar to the profile of Fang in the most recent Newsletter.
Liz T. TCAA Member South Australia
The last of his generation ~ Yang Zhenduo (born 1926), a native of Yongnian Hsien County, Hebei, passed away on 7th November 2020. He was born in Beijing,
China, into the famous Yang family of martial artists. The third son of
Yang Cheng Fu and a great-grandson of Yang Lu Chan (the creator ofthe Yang style of t'ai chi ch'uan), Yang Zhenduo is a fourth-generation
descendant of the Yang Family of T'ai Chi Ch'uan, and is the fourth
lineage-holder of the style..
REPORT FROM WESTERN AUSTRALIA REP ~ ROB HALL
As most of you would be aware, during Covid-19 we in WA have had more chance to gather than other states. After doing the COVID Safe Martial Arts Instructor Certification, we started to implement some additional training to assist the students (and Teachers). The majority of our Workshops/Lessons have been conducted on a Saturday or Sunday and are a Free class for current students to ask questions and practice in a relaxed environment in the park. It has worked a treat with much improvement in personal skills of tai Chi and Weapons.
Being limited to groups of ten (10) made sure no-one missed out on personal attention. We will be continuing over the coming summer as required by the students. To assist with varying skill levels we utilise senior students / trainee teachers, which gives us a chance to assess them at the same time.
I started tai chi in search of pain relief and a form of exercise that I could do. I suffered a severe truck accident in the military which caused a good deal of damage to my lower back. I have been playing Tai Chi now for approximately twenty (20) years and I haven’t been back in hospital for pain relief since I started. I use the way I had to learn (with many modifications to movements) to teach others with similar problems, and there are plenty who need help.
We have approximately 70 practicing students at the moment and are hoping to increase that number when the Covid-19 is over.
TAI CHI RESEARCH
Most instructors teach Tai Chi from a general health and fitness perspective rather than seeking to treat chronic illnesses. Neverthless, during the past 20 years, there have been over 2,000 articles published recommending Tai Chi as beneficial for tempering the effects of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, arthritis and lower back pain. However Tai Chi is not a "magic pill" to be taken for every chronic health problem and we need to update ourselves on what research evidence says about its benefits for conditions of this kind.
A September 2020 umbrella review published in The American Journal of Medicine by an international group of researchers may be of interest to TCAA members. It summarised analyses of randomised control trials (RCT's) providing evidence on the positive influence of Tai Chi on a range of chronic illnesses., however the researchers found that most of the evidence supporting Tai chi is of either Low-to-Moderate, or Moderate, in terms of the RCT's design and analyses.
Despite this finding of low quality, a number of peak Australian and International medical and health representative bodies have endorsed Tai Chi in Clinical Practice Guidelines for a range of chronic illnesses after weighing up factors such as severity of the illness, level of disability, quality of life of participants and the safety of Tai Chi as an exercise. Perhaps this is a much greater recommendation for Tai Chi for chronic illness than relying on research evidence alone.
Conducting a Tai Chi program targeting a particular chronic illness requires some background medical knowledge about safety aspects and the risks of prescribing exercise (including Tai Chi) for that particular illness. When teaching Tai Chi for medical purposes I therefore recommend that Tai Chi instructors work together with health professionals to provide a safe, low risk program for the public.
In future, organisations such as the International Medical Tai Chi and Qigong Associations may be able to set minimum standards of training in health knowledge for Tai Chi instructors working wih people who have chronic illness. Meanwhile access to the Journal article is available on the TCAA Website.
* Brian Corless is a retired Clinical Psychologist, former Exercise Physiologist and TCAA member.