Tai Chi Retreat – October 2018

Tai Chi Retreat – October 2018

For a weekend we practiced chi gong and tai chi under the pecan nut trees, listening to the arrow marked babblers and African grey hornbills chatter away to each other.

A mix of beginners, intermediate and advanced tai chi students from Johannesburg and as far as Cape Town, enjoyed the tranquil property of Melody Hills for the October 2018 tai chi retreat, led by Sifu Leo Ming.

“Retreats give us ‘time’ ” reflects Leo, when asked why he holds retreats for his students.

He shares further that “we often feel time is moving at a rapid pace. We ‘didn’t have time to do the task.’ We were ‘short’ of time to finish the job. Time went by so quickly and before we knew it, ‘it was over’. ‘What time is it because I have another appointment in 30 minutes’. ‘This time round I am going to do it differently/ properly.’”

“The retreat ‘gives’ us a different sense of time. We spend the day doing one thing- properly and thoroughly – and without rushing to make the next item on the list.”

“Here, at the retreat, there is no next item. The ‘next thing’ is actually the first thing, or the previous thing’, which become the present doing. We learn about being present; about bringing mindfulness into the present moment. And in this case with tai chi, the present movement or non-movement. We learn that non-action gives rise to action.”

“Getting away from our busy lives and having a renewed self perspective is important or else we tend to lose ourselves in the material world. What is important is self, and the breath. By self I don’t mean being selfish, but rather our true self. The natural grounded and stillness which embodies all of us. Returning to the one,” further explains Leo.

During this retreat we all learnt from each other, as we focused on the Yang straight sword traditional 55 form, and had theoretical and philosophical discussion sessions in between.

The laughter and story telling entertained us over scrumptious vegetarian meals and sitting around fires in the evenings.

We also explored the labyrinth maze as a walking meditation, as well as the options of a gong therapy session and kahuna massages for those wanting some extra elements.

“Each and every retreat is so different and so unique. I think they are all highlights in my academy. I think having students who share a commonality and have a desire to learn from me is a personal highlight” reveals Leo humbly.

Leo hopes that his students leave a retreat being emptied out, in a sense.

“If they are able to leave their baggage behind for that period of time, it would be a successful retreat. If they understood a philosophy that they could use in their daily life, it would be successful. If they could integrate this, it would be a success.”

We hope you will join us at next years’ Tai Chi Retreats in Johannesburg, and experience this kind of success with us.

To  join your Sifu Leo Low Ming for a complimentary introductory class and be invited to the next tai chi retreat, contact him on 0833780468.

For a weekend we practiced chi gong and tai chi under the pecan nut trees, listening to the arrow marked babblers and African grey hornbills chatter away to each other. A mix of beginners, intermediate and advanced tai chi students from Johannesburg and as far as Cape Town, enjoyed the tranquil property of Melody Hills …

Tai Chi and Dogs

Tai Chi and Dogs

Tai Chi has many benefits, and one that we might not realise is that it helps us with our relationships to man’s best friend – the dog.

Interacting with animals as pets, and dogs are a common pet, can be a physical activity as well as an emotionally rewarding one.

To help care for our pets, we should be walking them often, and engaging them in exercise to keep them healthy.

“Falls, ankle sprains, back injuries and even broken bones are common when walking dogs who are boisterous and if the dog handler is not in tune with themselves and their body alignment and balance” explains Sifu Leo Ming.

“Tai chi is a discipline that helps the dog handler to develop more balance and strength, as well as the inner composure, to handle their dogs better.”

This wonderful article by Christine Green outlines a number of principles that we learn from tai chi, that help with interacting with our furry friends. These include:

  1. Using our waist for handling jumping dogs, by being flexible to move with the push of the dog, rather than being pushed over.
  2. Incorporating back muscles for bad leash manners, by developing the tai chi upper body posture which activates the right back muscles to keep our center of gravity more stable.
  1. Weight shifting for dogs who keep pulling the leash, so that we maintain our balance and strength.
  1. Rooting our weight and energy down, to handle those dogs with bad leash manners, or a dog jumping up, so that we are able to keep grounded and stay in control.
  1. Relaxation, gained from the meditative style of tai chi, is good for everything, but specially for improving reaction time to deal with animals.

 

Read more about how tai chi can help you enjoy your time with your dogs more, in the article.

To experience some of the techniques explained, join your Sifu Leo Low Ming for a complimentary introductory class. Contact him on 0833780468 to learn more about his Tai Chi Classes in Parkview, Johannesburg.

Tai Chi has many benefits, and one that we might not realise is that it helps us with our relationships to man’s best friend – the dog. Interacting with animals as pets, and dogs are a common pet, can be a physical activity as well as an emotionally rewarding one. To help care for our …

Zanta Hofmeyr: how tai chi helps her as a violinist

Zanta Hofmeyr: how tai chi helps her as a violinist

Here is Zanta Hofmeyr, one of our students, explaining the benefits she gains from tai chi and how she enjoyed her trip to China with Sifu Leo Ming.

We also get a peak into the world of a classical violinist:

 

 

Contact Sifu Leo Low Ming on 0833780468 to learn more about his Tai Chi Classes in Parkview, Johannesburg.

Here is Zanta Hofmeyr, one of our students, explaining the benefits she gains from tai chi and how she enjoyed her trip to China with Sifu Leo Ming. We also get a peak into the world of a classical violinist:     Contact Sifu Leo Low Ming on 0833780468 to learn more about his Tai Chi …

The Wealth of Taijiquan

The Wealth of Taijiquan

Tai chi may have very early roots in China, yet it has and still is spreading in popularity all over the world.  This is due to the many benefits it provides.

Here is a short clip that explains taijiquan and it’s wealth that we can enjoy.  It also has some interesting footage of Chen village– where we recently visited on our tour to China.

The video covers:

  • What is the link between Wújí  and taijí?  And tai chi and ying yang?
  • The history of tai chi from Chen Village
  • Benefits of practicing taijiquan for society and nature
  • The science of the effects of tai chi on our own bodies
  • The Chinese government’s plans of promoting taijiquan and martial arts

 

 

Contact Sifu Leo Low Ming on 0833780468 to learn more about his Tai Chi Classes in Parkview, Johannesburg.

Tai chi may have very early roots in China, yet it has and still is spreading in popularity all over the world.  This is due to the many benefits it provides. Here is a short clip that explains taijiquan and it’s wealth that we can enjoy.  It also has some interesting footage of Chen village– …

Children with ADHD benefit from Karate Classes

Children with ADHD benefit from Karate Classes

Has your child been labelled with ADHD?

Martial Arts, and specifically karate, is a useful activity to supplement any other strategy you are considering to help your child.

Karate has many benefits for children.  Specifically for children with ADHD or Asperger Syndrome or any similar challenges, martial arts activities can help them develop skills that can be translated positively into many areas of their lives.

Karate is not a team sport and yet it is social.  So the dojo becomes a safe and non-competitive place for children to learn, while still having healthy role models, and needing to engage with others and develop social skills.   They are taught about respect, accountability and leadership through the exercises and routines in karate.

Because Karate is also a sport that needs commitment, children learn about practicing something repeatedly and attending class consistently.   The grading system with different coloured belts teaches personal goal setting, and is a healthy means of marking and measuring progress.  This helps to provide structure and the mindset that things can be worked at and developed with perseverance.

Mental/physical control is an aspect that ADHD children can benefit from, and this is developed in karate alongside a growing self-confidence.  As the children learn certain drills and sequences in the karate katas, they learn to follow procedures and find rhythm, which help with them learning about controlling their minds and bodies.

Focus and self-discipline is also needed to learn the kata’s and routines, as well as the ability to stay on a task.  When asked if karate classes can help children who battle to focus, Sifu Leo responded:

“The brain can be trained to create new pathways by learning new positive methods while using up excess energies.”

“Also mental focus becomes stronger from Karate because the skill of focus is trained inside an environment where certain methods are repeated over and over, becoming a positive habit.”

Martial art is a means to stimulate the body and the mind, and encourage participation in a constructive manner.

“I’ve had experience with children with ADHD, and with its challenges, I’ve seen my students being able to channel their excess energy into something positive for themselves,”

continues Leo.

“Martial art is a great method of managing negative energies.  And I welcome the opportunity to assist in any child’s development through the benefits of karate.”

 

Contact Sifu Leo Low Ming on 0833780468 to learn more about his Karate Classes for children in Parkview and Midrand, Johannesburg.

Has your child been labelled with ADHD? Martial Arts, and specifically karate, is a useful activity to supplement any other strategy you are considering to help your child. Karate has many benefits for children.  Specifically for children with ADHD or Asperger Syndrome or any similar challenges, martial arts activities can help them develop skills that …

Push Hands in Tai Chi

Push Hands in Tai Chi

What is Push Hands?

There are various methods and techniques of push hands.  The main purpose of push hands is as a sensitivity taiji drill whereby two people connect by ‘push’ and by ‘yield’, using their hands.  The exercise is aimed to be done in a harmonious way.

Benefits of Push Hands

Initially one does this drill for developing physical balance and strength. It also improves the subtler internal aspects of co-ordination, timing, sensitivity, reflexes, groundedness and leverage.

As you practice it more, you move onto the other benefits where the exercise leads to internal harmonious synchronization of the energies.  You also learn about the body’s natural instinct to utilize and direct force, and to rather develop the martial arts style of developing the body’s ability to yield to and redirect a force.

Learning about Self and Others

In our tai chi classes in Johannesburg, we practice the forms, and these types of exercises.  When we do a solo tai chi form, our attention is on ourselves physically and internally.  We gain understanding of our internal energy flows, and any tensions too.  We’re asked to confront our thoughts, emotions and any possible internal struggles.

However, when we do a partner exercise with others in the class, like push hands, we can explore our techniques which we learnt in the tai chi form, together with the application of these moves on or with our partners.

We now not only have to deal with our own internal states, but also with external forces and the energies of our partner.  This brings awareness to how we interact with others.  We learn to listen to our partner, focusing on their intention in the direction and strength that they are moving their hands.

Thus we can, in the safe environment of a controlled martial arts class exercise, learn about neutralising forces coming at us, and at the same time, gain a sense of our own power to generate and carry out an action towards another.

Chi & Li

Push hands is also a method of utilizing and strengthening our other senses. One worth mentioning is our sense of Chi.  This can be likened to our vital force, or life energy.  Thus by focusing on this inner strength’s development, on increasing our Chi, we become stronger from the inside out.

The aim is also to be learning to use chi (our inner strength) and not li (our physical strength).

Push hands helps us to develop finer distinctions in sensing our chi and focusing more on our internal strengths, rather than external strengths.



For more about Tai Chi and Martial Arts classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

What is Push Hands? There are various methods and techniques of push hands.  The main purpose of push hands is as a sensitivity taiji drill whereby two people connect by ‘push’ and by ‘yield’, using their hands.  The exercise is aimed to be done in a harmonious way. Benefits of Push Hands Initially one does …

The Science behind why Martial Arts Meditation leads to Stress Free Living

The Science behind why Martial Arts Meditation leads to Stress Free Living

“In most if not all martial arts, there is some form of integrative meditation component that forms the building blocks of a balanced yet formidable martial artist… half the battle is won and lost in the mind,” says Nicholas Bruce in his in depth article in the Business Day, May 2018.

Standing meditation in Tai Chi

The article explains how martial arts like karate and tai chi can help us develop the ability to prevent ourselves going into the fight/flight response.  When we don’t have this ability, we can lose part of our logical thinking faculty and can make less healthy decisions, and we find it harder to manage our emotions.

One of the key ways that martial arts helps one to be stress free, is its meditation component.

We ask Sensei Leo Ming to give his input on this key element of martial arts training, and encourage you to learn more about the science and research into this aspect, in Bruce’s article.

 

Q: What is Beginners Mind and why is it important in martial arts training?

Leo:  Sho Shin…beginner mind… This is such an important concept in the martial arts. We always have the ego which gets in the way of the reason for doing our martial arts. We get side tracked, whether it be from something visual, something external that catches our eye, or from an internal thought. A simple example would be when we are trying too hard to impress others, or wanting to over achieve in class. Once this happens your ‘way’ (or dao) is lost. We need to always remember to keep our training pure and authentic.

There is a saying that in the beginners mind there are countless possibilities, but in the experts mind there is only one. Thus we get stuck because we think that something can only be done in a certain way, and that our way is the ‘correct’ way.

If we look at children, they are very spontaneous and have an open energy. It is free, uncluttered, and natural. They can absorb but they can also let go of. They cry with intensity, and then it’s all over. We want to train to attain our original mind, our spontaneous and empty mind – this is a good example of sho shin.

More often than not we bring our baggage wherever we go, in the dojo, onto the court, on the field, even into our homes.  This weight prevents us from flowing and feeling the moment.

Q: What are the benefits of this ‘beginners mind’ for life outside the dojo?

Leo: There are so many. A few benefits are:

  • learning confidence
  • learning about breath control – for anxiety and for focus
  • letting go of the ego – developing humility
  • growing your perseverance and overcoming obstacles,
  • and overcoming stress build up.

    Martial Arts meditation in Wudang Mountains, China

 

Q: What is meditation in Martial Arts?

Leo: It is essentially learning self introspection, being aware of self, being aware of breath, emptying the mind -having the beginner mind.

Q: What aspects of your teaching do you do to encourage this development?

Leo: Meditation is one of the teachings that I integrate into all my classes- to learn patience with the process. Mindfulness is learnt through meditation as well as through self perfection of techniques. One trains a single technique repetitively until it becomes part of you, or you become part of it, hundreds and thousands of times until you reach a state of ‘no-mind’  or mu-shin. Everything muscle and tendon is relaxed, flowing and natural, yet filled with chi. This is something which cannot be replicated through learning theory.  You need to experience it.

We welcome you to join us for a complimentary class, so you can experience a taste of Sho Shin, and the benefits of becoming a martial artist.

 

For more about Tai Chi and Kobujutso Karate classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

“In most if not all martial arts, there is some form of integrative meditation component that forms the building blocks of a balanced yet formidable martial artist… half the battle is won and lost in the mind,” says Nicholas Bruce in his in depth article in the Business Day, May 2018. The article explains how …

Leo’s Top Tips to keep Safe

Leo’s Top Tips to keep Safe

With a background of over 40 years in Martial Arts and teaching self-defence, Sensei Leo Ming shares some of his tips and strategies for keeping safe and avoiding situations where we are an easy target to criminals and might be threatened.

These points to remember are especially relevant for those living in big cities like Johannesburg, where there is a high risk of being mugged, or car hi-jacked.

When in Car Parks

  • Place your valuables in your boot, out of sight.
  • Make sure your vehicle is locked once you’ve parked it. Double check that it is locked, as Car-jamming devices are a common means to gain entry into your car after you have left it.
  • Don’t be distracted by checking your phone, and rather be aware of your surroundings. Scan the area and notice if there are any loiterers around.
  • Park in an area which is not out of sight or tucked around the corner. However, also try not to park in between large cars where your car is hidden. Parking out of sight will make it easier for hijackers to accost you.
  • It is preferable to also park your car nose out, by reverse parking it into the parking spot.
  • When returning to your car, have your keys in hand, so that you don’t have to be looking for them when you get to your car.
  • Don’t dawdle to your car and once you are inside your car, don’t linger and delay leaving the car park.
  • If possible be with someone. If you are alone, your first defence is your awareness – especially of loiterers.
  • When possible, get the car guard to help you with loading your shopping packets into the car, while you keep scanning your surroundings.

When Driving to leave or enter home or work, at the gate on the street

  • Awareness is so important. Notice other cars in the street, people hanging around the gate or walking nearby, and look out for anything suspicious or unusual.
  • Be cautious in driveways – do not hang around waiting in the driveway or when entering apartment complexes. Boomed off areas can be used as a trap area for car hijacks.
  • Be extra vigilant in dimly lit areas or quiet side roads.
  • If anything seems out of place or suspicious, rather drive away and call for help before returning.

When Walking

  • Be aware of your surroundings. So don’t walk with your awareness in your phone checking social media.  Notice what is happening around you.
  • Walk in a busy area if possible.
  • And walk with others if possible.
  • If it is a casual walk, leave all your valuables at home. Carry your mace / whistle/ body alarm / weapon of choice.
  • Walk with a dog if possible.

When waiting at a Bus Stop or for an Uber Taxi

  • Yet again safety starts with awareness. Notice what is going on around you.
  • Know your bus stop or Uber pick up point and its surroundings.
  • Know the arrival times of your bus or taxi. Time your arrival to the bus stop or pick-up point to avoid waiting too long for the bus/taxi.
  • Avoid being on your phone texting while waiting for the bus. If you are checking your phone for your Uber details, be sure to keep aware too of your surroundings.
  • Be vigilant of loiterers.

How can learning Tai Chi and Karate help with developing a sense of Self-Defense?

Martial arts brings awareness to one’s behaviour.  It also develops an attitude  of alertness and awareness to ones surroundings.   Awareness is key to one’s own safety.

The next aspect is self-protection. Not only does martial arts teach us basic self defence movements, it also teaches us confidence in bodies and in ourselves. With this confidence we can have a different insight and awareness to the world around us, and a more assertive response which is needed to protect ourselves.

One also learns and understands the psyche of people and potential threats through training in martial arts.

All these give us a better insight of scenarios and hopefully our coping skills are heightened.

Be aware, and be safe!

 

For more about Self-Defence and Martial Arts classes in Johannesburg, contact your Sensei, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

With a background of over 40 years in Martial Arts and teaching self-defence, Sensei Leo Ming shares some of his tips and strategies for keeping safe and avoiding situations where we are an easy target to criminals and might be threatened. These points to remember are especially relevant for those living in big cities like …

Employee Engagement Sessions

Employee Engagement Sessions

Everything we do is with and through people, and even more so in the corporate world. It’s the people of organisations that make up the business, and the businesses success is based on how well those individuals are, and also how well they work together towards achieving the common goals of the organisation.

Thus for a productive workforce, we need productive healthy and happy people. And a trend in companies is to bring their staff together in small team buildings, or larger conferences, where they management can recognise the contribution of their people, and also communication the next steps of the business strategy.

A great way to spice these events up to keep employees engaged, is to slow them down!


Leo’s corporate wellness events do just that. He brings an element of inner health to the conference by teaching tai chi principles, like that of flow, and slowing down to gain clarity. As well as offering a team building exercise in that the group together have an experience of the practice of tai chi, developing a common memory to bring them together and build relationships.

Old Mutual offered this recently to their Ace Winners at a Durban in-house conference. Leo enjoyed taking the group through some qigong and tai chi, and brought a nice break and something different to the pace of the work meeting.

Laughs were had, a moment of solace was gained, and staff went into the next session feeling more refreshed.

 

To learn more about adding a tai chi break-away session to your next corporate event, contact your Sifu, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

Everything we do is with and through people, and even more so in the corporate world. It’s the people of organisations that make up the business, and the businesses success is based on how well those individuals are, and also how well they work together towards achieving the common goals of the organisation. Thus for …

Tai Chi helps patients with Parkinson’s Disease

Tai Chi helps patients with Parkinson’s Disease

Impaired balance is one of the symptoms of those who suffer from Parkinson’s disease. They also tend to fall often, and are less able to function on a day to day basis as the disease progresses.

Exercise is encouraged – yet until this research, few forms of exercise had been shown to be effective. This study, published in the  New England Journal of Medicine , was conducted in 2012.  It found that tai chi was the form of exercise that consistently helped patients with Parkinson’s disease.

These patients were taken through a tailored tai chi programme to test if this form of exercise could improve their ability to control their posture.

The other forms of exercise that were compared to the tai chi were stretching and resistance training. All the participants only did 60 minutes of exercise, twice a week, over a period of 24 week.

The results showed that “the tai chi group performed consistently better than the resistance-training and stretching groups in maximum excursion”. Incidence of falls were lowered too, and they found that resistance training also helped with this aspect.

It is interesting to note too that the effects of the training in tai chi were maintained when they checked in with the patients 3 months after the tai chi programme ended.

So if you would like to improve your balance and posture control, consider taking up the practice of tai chi, and come and join us for a free trail class.

 

To find out how tai chi can help you with managing your health challenges and improving your balance, contact your Sifu, Leo Low Ming, on 0833780468.

Impaired balance is one of the symptoms of those who suffer from Parkinson’s disease. They also tend to fall often, and are less able to function on a day to day basis as the disease progresses. Exercise is encouraged – yet until this research, few forms of exercise had been shown to be effective. This …