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 …

Retreating back to the present moment

Retreating back to the present moment

By Brenda Ryan, Student of tai chi

Retreat (N) ‘An act of moving back or withdrawing’ is what one typically does when wanting to escape… and who among us can say we don’t want or need to escape from time to time?

This past weekend afforded a group of students just such an opportunity. I was fortunate enough to secure a place on the Taiji Retreat with Sifu Leo Ming held in the beautiful, tranquil setting of Melody Hills in Magaliesberg.

Our time there was spent practising the healing art forms of qigong and Taiiji. Reconnecting with Mother Earth, and being present in the moment, truly appreciating the beauty around us that in the course of our daily lives we so often take for granted.. And later, under a beautiful starry sky, we sat around the camp fire, tired but content, and grateful for all the blessings of the day.

On our last day we had the privilege of participating in a gong meditation session with our wonderful host, Tejbir and her lovely dog, Pono.

Our time on retreat was very special.. and it is with a greatful heart that I thank Sifu Leo Ming for bringing me, and I’m sure my fellow students, back to the moment… as Mother Theresa once said:

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.”

 

(Photos courtesy of Brenda Ryan)

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.

By Brenda Ryan, Student of tai chi Retreat (N) ‘An act of moving back or withdrawing’ is what one typically does when wanting to escape… and who among us can say we don’t want or need to escape from time to time? This past weekend afforded a group of students just such an opportunity. I …

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– …

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 …

Shanghai

Shanghai

What stood out most for us on our stay in Shanghai, was the size of the city and amount of people who live there. Also striking is its modern buildings and sky scrapers, together with the authentic feel of the city.

We visited Zhujiajiao, also known as the Venice of Shanghai.

There is a beautifully manicured garden alongside, and one can see a lot of work has been put into the making of this space, in the style of a manor garden.

Tai chi is practiced in Shanghai in the many parks that are in and around the city. Where ever there is a space, it will be used. The locals get out into the park and have activities like taiji; badminton; qi gong; playing instruments; kicking the shuttlecock. This all contributes to a very vibey atmosphere.

> Next China Trip blog: Terracotta Army

What stood out most for us on our stay in Shanghai, was the size of the city and amount of people who live there. Also striking is its modern buildings and sky scrapers, together with the authentic feel of the city. We visited Zhujiajiao, also known as the Venice of Shanghai. There is a beautifully …

Chen Village Museum

Chen Village Museum

During our visit to Chen Village, we spent a few hours exploring the 2800 square meters of the Chen Village Museum.  Being the birthplace of Tai Chi, the museum is a wonderful collection of art, sculptures and information about the history and theory of this martial arts.  The museum also has a way of introducing you to the tai chi Masters and their life stories.

In this video, about half way through, you will see the painting of a master with numerous hands.  It is said that when a practitioner of tai chi reaches a very high level, his skill is like that of ‘a man with a thousand hands’.  He can thus achieve a lot by doing a little, as in if he gets hit by someone, that pressure will bounce back to the assailant.

Most people in Chenjiagou Village, or Chen Village, practice tai chi.  Hence there is a widespread saying:

“After drinking the water in Chenjiagou Village, you will know how to perform one or two movements of Tai chi.”

 

Sifu Leo’s reflection of visiting this museum is:

“Well, I have read up for years on the history and the various masters and how they passed their knowledge on. It is only when you get there, to Chen Village, that it becomes a reality as you stand on the grounds where the Master’s actually trained. The museum made real the theory that I read in the books.  I recommend students of tai chi to visit the museum, as when you are physically at Chenjiagou , the teachings that you have learned in your taiji class get placed into a real perspective.”

 

> Next China Trip blog:  Shanghai and Zhujiajiao

During our visit to Chen Village, we spent a few hours exploring the 2800 square meters of the Chen Village Museum.  Being the birthplace of Tai Chi, the museum is a wonderful collection of art, sculptures and information about the history and theory of this martial arts.  The museum also has a way of introducing …

Visiting the Great Wall of China

Visiting the Great Wall of China

On our tour of China, we spent a few hours walking along the Great Wall.  We visited a popular section called Badaling, about 80 kilometres northwest of Beijing.  It is one of the most visited sections because it is the most well-maintained and representative section the Wall.

What is most striking about the Wall is the sheer size of it, and the overwhelming presence it has.  The fact that a million people lost their lives building the Wall, adds to its impressiveness.  And this fact has also lead the Wall to be called “the wall of tears”.

There is a great legend which tells of a lady called Meng Jiang, whose husband died while working on the wall.  Her tears that fell were so bitter that it collapsed a section of the wall, revealing where his bones were.  This allowed the grieving wife to bury them properly.

Another interesting fact is that in the Qin Dynasty, glutinous rice flour was used as cement to bind the bricks.

“The Great Wall symbolises everlasting strength and longevity and protection for my people” contemplates Sifu Leo.

> Next blog: Chen Village Museum

On our tour of China, we spent a few hours walking along the Great Wall.  We visited a popular section called Badaling, about 80 kilometres northwest of Beijing.  It is one of the most visited sections because it is the most well-maintained and representative section the Wall. What is most striking about the Wall is …