Racewalking and Tai Chi

Racewalking and Tai Chi

“Taiji has enriched my life and improved my resilience immensely. I am grateful to Leo for all the help and guidance he has given me” shares Barbara Nell, a World Champion Racewalker.

Barbara Nell in action

Barbara has been racewalking for over 25 years, and covered a distance of some 50 000 km’s during this time. She trains on both road and track, and has worked with many coaches over the years – each contributing in their way her preparation and technique. This had lead her to achieve world records and to winning championships.

Some of her impressive achievements include:

  • the first woman in Africa to walk a 20km in under 1:50
  • held the All Africa record for the 20km women’s walk
  • has won SA Senior Track and Field Championships 4 times
  • won the SA Road Walk senior Championships 5 times
  • attended 11 World Masters Athletics Championships
  • has been the World Champion in her age group 14 times
  • won 4 silver and 3 bronze medals from these competitions
  • competed in team events and won WMAC gold medals, silver and a bronze Medal
  • in 2000 set the W45-49 5000m racewalk World Record with a time of 24:14
  • set 4 SA Senior records, and 18 SA Masters records
  • won her age group races at the South African Masters National Championships 33 times
  • won SA Masters Provincial Championships 47 times.

As part of her development in strengthening and maintaining her muscles needed for racewalking, Barbara supplements her training with tai chi and works with a biokineticist.

“In 2009, I was injured and my Physiotherapist recommended taiji to help me build strength and improve my balance in order to avoid further injury. I have worked with Leo since that time.

Firstly, it has been great to do taiji as a complete contrast to my other training which is time or distance based. The sense of being in the present while doing the movement with no immediate objective in sight is very fulfilling. Doing Taiji has definitely enhanced my muscle strength and improved my balance which has been advantageous to my race walking.

Secondly, there is so much wisdom in this ancient practice as the entire body is worked and strengthened by the many graceful movements during a morning’s session.

She is also very much aware of her mindset, and finds that learning from her failures, not letting her walking define her, and having fun while training and competing, are also key parts of her success.

Recently she attended the World Masters Athletic Championships in Perth in October and November 2016. This event included more than 4000 competitors from some 80 countries between the ages of 35 to 97 competing in 31 events.

Barbara, on the podium after the 10km with the Australian Barb Bryant 2nd and the British Walker Cath Duhig 3rd.

Barbara participated in the Race walks in the 5000m track event, the 10km road walk and the 20km road walk in the Women 60-64 age group, where she won the 5000m and 10km walks and got the silver medal in the 20km.

Together with Lucia Willemse (W60-64) and Elsa Meyer (W70-74), they made up the South African team and they won the silver medal in the team event for the 10km (W 60-64) and the gold medal in the 20km (W60-64).

We agree with Barbara that “walking is a healthy lifestyle activity and one of the best forms of exercise” as she shared in the November/December edition of the SA Racewalking Newsletter. She further imparted that she “feels that individual endurance sport is a great teacher. She has learnt many life lessons from walking and competing. ‘In the end you are racing against yourself and trying to be the best that you can be. The most important thing for me is that it must be fun. I walk because I love it.’ ”

We commend Barbara on her achievements, and her multi-disciplinary approach to her training. May the grace and wisdom from the practice of taiji continue to give her the inner and physical strength to persist in being the inspiration she is to us, and to so many others.

 

To find out how tai chi can help you excel in your chosen sport, contact your Sifu, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

“Taiji has enriched my life and improved my resilience immensely. I am grateful to Leo for all the help and guidance he has given me” shares Barbara Nell, a World Champion Racewalker. Barbara has been racewalking for over 25 years, and covered a distance of some 50 000 km’s during this time. She trains on …

How tai chi helps overcome stress and trauma

How tai chi helps overcome stress and trauma

One of tai chi’s benefits is helping us overcome stress and traumatic ordeals. It is a movement practice that can allow us to feel centered and calm.

Benefits of Group Tai Chi

Tai chi can be done with a group or individually and is often taught in groups with others. The group energy helps us to compose ourselves. Practicing taiji with others brings a unity and togetherness which is experienced both individually and as a collective.

Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, New York Times bestselling author of The Body Keeps the Score, specialises in recovery from trauma through understanding the neuroscience of traumatic stress.

Dr van der Kolk on StressHis research has demonstrated how effective mind-body treatment approaches are. He specifically mentions the benefits from modalities including neurofeedback, meditation, yoga, mindfulness, and sensory integration methods such as dance and movement. Tai Chi is easily added to this list.

In a video (to be found here) Dr van der Kolk talks about how throwing a ball with a child can help develop the skill of adjusting to the rhythms of another, and the ability of attuning into the other person.

Doing some form of movement together with others (like working a tai chi form in a group), re-establishes rhythms which are important for treating disruptive behaviours in ourselves, This encourages us as adults to develop a biology that can sync with the biology of others around us. In other words, it helps promote co-operation.

“We get to know ourselves because other people know us. When nobody knows us, we don’t know ourselves” says Dr van der Kolk. Practicing tai chi with others can achieve just that.

The skill of being present in the moment

Dr van der Kolk goes on to explain in his next video (to be found here) about the relation between being present and healing from stress.

The main avenues to learn how to be focused and present in the here and now are practices like yoga and the traditional mind arts, like tai chi. These sequences of movements that are synced with breath work, have a meditative effect on the mind and the body.

In order to learn the tai chi forms, you need to pay attention to each part of your body and the specifics of how your limbs need to be held and moved.
This practice gives one the time to be present within your body, noticing your feelings and what’s going on in your body. This kind of awareness helps those feeling highly stressed become more present and calm.

Classes in Johannesburg to de-stress

De-stressing Tai Chi at Secret SunsetTo learn more about how Mings Martial Arts’ Tai Chi lessons can help you handle stress better, come and try a complimentary first session and speak to Leo, to find out more.

Our Beginners classes are in Sandton soon; and in Parkview on Tuesdays at 18:15, Thursdays at 17:30 and Saturdays at 8:30.

For more info contact your Sifu, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

One of tai chi’s benefits is helping us overcome stress and traumatic ordeals. It is a movement practice that can allow us to feel centered and calm. Benefits of Group Tai Chi Tai chi can be done with a group or individually and is often taught in groups with others. The group energy helps us to …

Learning Tai Chi in water

Learning Tai Chi in water

By Leo Ming

I love water and its intrinsic value to life. I am a ‘fish’.

Many years ago, while I was swimming, I thought I would try some taiji in the pool.

Suddenly it dawned on me that the principles of taiji, through the movement under water, can be transferred and combined into being one with this element.

Weightlessness and Weight

A person would gain valuable insight into weightlessness but at the same time learn about how we need ‘weight’ or “chong” to be able to be grounded. Otherwise without this groundedness, we would fall over in the pool.

It takes a long period of patience and practise to do this correctly.

Letting go

The other aspect I learnt from practicing tai chi in water, is to do with the principle of ‘letting go of’. This principle is easier to grasp when in water as we now have an element that surrounds us , catches us and holds us ‘in position. Letting go or ‘fong song’ is critical in order to progress with tiaji and to gain insight.

Many people who come to taiji do the moves beautifully, yet they still have no concept or idea of how we can ‘fong song’. This practice of non-resistance is in alignment with the tao/dao, which is a part of the understanding of taiji. It is exemplified in this saying–

“When you have movement , everything moves, when you are still everything is still.”

Join me for a class to have an experience of ‘fong song’.

To attend a session in Johannesburg, contact your Sifu, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

By Leo Ming I love water and its intrinsic value to life. I am a ‘fish’. Many years ago, while I was swimming, I thought I would try some taiji in the pool. Suddenly it dawned on me that the principles of taiji, through the movement under water, can be transferred and combined into being …

Johannesburg Tai Chi Retreats

Johannesburg Tai Chi Retreats

Sifu Leo holds retreats in Johannesburg often, where the focus is on the practice of qigong and taiji, while relaxing and centering oneself in beautiful surroundings, eating wholesome food.

As tai chi practitioner Ashley describes his experience of the retreats:

Push hands exercise demo at Tai Chi RetreatOur Tai Chi retreat is a beautiful way to escape from the demands of everyday life, and experience an uplifting and inspirational weekend cocooned in a lovely setting.

The weekend unfolds in the spirit of Tai Chi – no rush, no deadlines, no bootcamp mentality. Instead, genuine connections with like-minded friends, delicious relaxing meals, philosophical discussions, swimming, gong meditation. Oh, and some Tai Chi too!

I come away feeling grounded and centred, my body supple, my mind clear, and my spirit free.

Retreat Highlights

Sifu also brings new aspects to each retreat, like guest speakers and creative ways to learn about the philosophy of tai chi.

In the most recent retreat in October 2016, Sifu held one of the sessions in the swimming pool, to emphasise the learning of flow and resistance.  It was not only refreshing in the summer heat, but gave students an experience of weightlessness and groundedness at the same time.

Benefits of Tai Chi Retreats

Tai Chi retreats are tailored for the students who participate, and so are for all levels of tai chi, from beginners to advanced.  The focus is on foundation building, on key concepts in tai chi, and on technique.  From this base Sifu builds to the level of the group, including:

  • Beginners get a strong foundation, further getting in touch with themselves and their bodies. Their  left and right hand co-ordination improves; developing more neural muscular signals and helping integrate mind and body.
  • Those with injuries, scoliosis, arthritic conditions benefit from retreats for therapeutic reasons, and the learning the useful exercises.
  • And those more advanced in taiji, improve their body alignment, perfect the foundation skills, aligning their technique with the correct breathing, and gain refinement of their taiji moves, both mentally and physically.

To attend the next Tai Chi Retreat in Johannesburg, see our Events Page or contact your Sifu, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

Sifu Leo holds retreats in Johannesburg often, where the focus is on the practice of qigong and taiji, while relaxing and centering oneself in beautiful surroundings, eating wholesome food. As tai chi practitioner Ashley describes his experience of the retreats: Our Tai Chi retreat is a beautiful way to escape from the demands of everyday life, and …

Tai chi Retreat in Magaliesburg, Johannesburg

Tai chi Retreat in Magaliesburg, Johannesburg

By Ralph Whittal

Tai Chi has been part of my life for the past six months or so. I have found it to be beneficial and I could not imagine a life without my weekly Tai Chi routine. Some of the benefits for me have included centering and grounding of my thoughts and it has also helped me to find balance in my life.

Tai Chi Retreat at Melody HillI’m very much a Tai Chi beginner and went on my first Tai Chi retreat in the last week of October 2016. I immediately fell in love with the Melody Hill retreat centre. It’s such an idyllic venue and I found myself instantly connected to the natural environment. I loved the surrounding gardens with the variety of birds singing from up above in the branches and enjoyed my early morning walks and reading under the trees whilst taking in all of that fresh early morning air.

On the first day of the retreat we had a talk by Dr. Danny Pillay, chairman of Homeopaths South Africa, who also practices traditional Chinese medicine and accupunture. The talk really increased my awareness of how important it is to look after the body and how effective disciplines like yoga and Tai Chi are. They are so beneficial to improving overall health and quality of life.

sword form of Tai chiDuring the weekend we got to practice the kun wern chien sword form, a first for me. I found it exciting, as being a beginner I had not done any sword form work before.

I spent some time watching and admiring all the participants practicing whilst trying to learn part of the sequence. I received some much-needed instruction from Leo, our Sifu, and members of the group who were so eager to help and spend time with me.

We also did some Tai Chi in the swimming pool which was a lot of fun. I discovered that being in the pool helped to make the experience of the “flowing” that one should experience outside the pool while doing Tai Chi, much more accessible and tangible.

 

On the Sunday we entered the yoga studio for some gong therapy. A gong is an eastern instrument which creates sounds that allow one to find that peaceful place in the conscious mind, needed to attain or to enter a dreamlike or meditative state.

Push hands at Tai Chi RetreatThis was such an enlightening experience for me. I was amazed at how I could access parts of my conscious mind in order to bring out more of an awareness and attunement to my life and even managed to access and work through some subconscious material that has been on my mind for some time now.

I looked forward to meal times and spending time with the group socializing. The food was so tasty, wholesome and good. The centre provides many things to keep one busy and in the evenings, I discovered the art of colouring-in with books and pencils scattered around the social area. I found this to be such a relaxing and therapeutic Push hands exercise demo at Tai Chi Retreatexperience, I can recommend it.

I did some swimming in the pool to cool off from the summer heat over the weekend and practiced a little backstroke whilst enjoying the socializing done with friends from the group who were cooling off with me.

The Tai Chi weekend away was an enjoyable and beneficial experience for me and I can’t wait to sign up for the next one in the new year.

 

 

For more info on future retreats, see our Events Page or contact your Sifu, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

Tai Chi retreat under the walnut trees

By Ralph Whittal Tai Chi has been part of my life for the past six months or so. I have found it to be beneficial and I could not imagine a life without my weekly Tai Chi routine. Some of the benefits for me have included centering and grounding of my thoughts and it has …

Dr Helen Didcott on Tai Chi and Healing in today’s world

Dr Helen Didcott on Tai Chi and Healing in today’s world

Dr Helen Didcott says she tries to keep herself balanced through Tai Chi, which she has practiced for 20 years, many of those years as a student of Mings Martial Arts Academy.  She shares in this podcast about “Healing in today’s world” about the similarities between tai chi and homeopathy; and it’s benefits, like how it helps us find balance, peace, and an awareness of our body and it’s energies, from the macroscopic to the microscopic.

For more info on tai chi in general, and taiji classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sifu, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468

Dr Helen Didcott says she tries to keep herself balanced through Tai Chi, which she has practiced for 20 years, many of those years as a student of Mings Martial Arts Academy.  She shares in this podcast about “Healing in today’s world” about the similarities between tai chi and homeopathy; and it’s benefits, like how it helps us …

Tim Ferriss talks about Tai Chi and Martial Arts

Tim Ferriss talks about Tai Chi and Martial Arts

Tim Ferriss is most well known for his books “The Four Hour Work Week” and more recently, “The Four Hour Body” and “The Four Hour Chef.”  He also has a great podcast show, interviewing high performers.

In his one episode he talks with Chef Joshua Skenes who is famous for his use of fire in his restaurants.  Joshua has also been practicing tai chi and martial arts for many years.   Tim and Joshua talk about:

  • the benefits of tai chi for health and rehabilitation and developing connective tissue,
  • about power versus resistance,
  • why Joshua practices this martial arts daily,
  • applicable martial arts,
  • being immovable with intention in the mind and body,
  • and hence how come even Tim has considered taking up tai chi.

Joshua also mentions one of his most recommended books, being: “The Dao of Taijiquan: Way to Rejuvenation” written by Tsung Hwa Jou.  Joshua mentions how Jou, at the age of 40, started tai chi to help heal from cancer, and went on to become a renowned expert in the field.  The book has many epiphanies about taijiquan, and explains it health benefits.

To hear Tim and Joshua’s conversation, click here and go to these parts:

  • Most gifted books, including “The Dao of Taijiquan: Way to Rejuvenation”  [53:50]
  • Discussing the value of tai chi, martial arts and becoming an immovable mountain [1:05:57 to 1:17:27]

 

For more info on tai chi in Johannesburg, contact your Sifu, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468

Tim Ferriss is most well known for his books “The Four Hour Work Week” and more recently, “The Four Hour Body” and “The Four Hour Chef.”  He also has a great podcast show, interviewing high performers. In his one episode he talks with Chef Joshua Skenes who is famous for his use of fire in his restaurants.  Joshua …

Introduction to Tai Chi – Monthly Talks for Beginners

Introduction to Tai Chi – Monthly Talks for Beginners
  • Do you have questions about Tai Chi?
  • Why is it useful to develop your chi? And quieten your mind? And have a practice that exercises both body and mind?
  • Would you like to know about Tai Chi’s many other benefits?
  • How about the best and most helpful way to learn the practice of taiji?

Find out these answers and many more, and learn about Tai Chi from Sifu Leo Low Ming, who has been teaching the art of Qigong and Taiji for over 40 years.

Introduction to Tai Chi – Monthly Talks

These complimentary Talks are aimed at beginners, and held the last Saturday of every month, at 09:30 to 10:30 at Parktown Girls High –Tyrone Avenue, Parkview.  

No cost, and RSVP preferable by contacting Leo on 0833780468.

Next date:   TO BE SET.

Join us for a complimentary class before the talk, to try tai chi out – from 08:30 to 09:15

Future Dates of Talks

Talks will usually be on the last Saturday of the month (except public holidays or exceptions listed below).

Venue: Parktown Girls High School.
Time: Talk starts at 09:30

For more info contact your Sifu, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468

Address:

Parktown High School
Tyrone Avenue
Parkview, Johannesburg

Do you have questions about Tai Chi? Why is it useful to develop your chi? And quieten your mind? And have a practice that exercises both body and mind? Would you like to know about Tai Chi’s many other benefits? How about the best and most helpful way to learn the practice of taiji? Find out …

History of the tai chi short and long yang form

History of the tai chi short and long yang form

Cheng Man Ching’s yang short form, of the 108 tai chi long form, has huge benefits to one’s health.  It is relatively easy to learn compared to chen and wu style’s and is the basic entry level form into the tai ji syllabus at Sifu Leo Low Ming’s school.

History

As a physician professor, Cheng used taiji training to add to his patients program for quicker recovery, as he himself was cured from disease using taiji.

The 108 is a lengthy form , so Professor Cheng shortened and summarized the key points of the 108 form to produce what we know as the short form or 37 posture. He eliminated repetitive moves and adjusted the sequence.

It is a great form for the young and the mature to learn and has a good energetic feel, creates calm and internal balance.

Professor Cheng was approached by the Kuomintang government to help create a formal fitness program for Chinese school children.

This form is practiced world wide today. It also is not as tedious in repetition as the 108, and thus makes it easy to absorb.

 

Here is old footage, from the 1900’s , of Chen Manching practicing this tai chi yang form.

Tai Chi Classes in Johannesburg

To learn this tai chi form and others, try a complimentary first session at Mings Martial Arts.  Our classes are in Sandton and in Parkview.

For more info contact your Sifu, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

Cheng Man Ching’s yang short form, of the 108 tai chi long form, has huge benefits to one’s health.  It is relatively easy to learn compared to chen and wu style’s and is the basic entry level form into the tai ji syllabus at Sifu Leo Low Ming’s school. History As a physician professor, Cheng used …

Tai chi helps you sleep better

Tai chi helps you sleep better

Poor sleep is known to have an impact on your health, as well as your productivity.

A recent study published in Biological Psychiatry (November 2015) has shown that the Chinese exercise technique of tai chi, and cognitive behavioural therapy, have been shown to reduce both inflammation and insomnia.

Read about the full study here.

And to learn more about how Mings Martial Arts’ Tai Chi lessons can help you to sleep better, come and try a complimentary first session and speak to Leo, to find out more.

Classes in Johannesburg

Our Beginners classes are in Sandton on Mondays and Wednesdays at 17:30; and in Parkview on Tuesdays at 18:15, Thursdays at 17:30 and Saturdays at 8:30.

For more info contact your Sifu, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

 

Poor sleep is known to have an impact on your health, as well as your productivity. A recent study published in Biological Psychiatry (November 2015) has shown that the Chinese exercise technique of tai chi, and cognitive behavioural therapy, have been shown to reduce both inflammation and insomnia. Read about the full study here. And to …