Abstracts

 

THE IMPACT OF THE HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF TAIJIQUAN ON CONTEMPORARY CHINESE PRACTICE
Professor Zhang Zhiyong, Physical Education Department, South China Normal University.

Taijiquan has provided a vehicle for both Chinese culture and typical but unique Chinese sport. As one of the four ancient civilizations, China left a rich cultural legacy. As one of the Chinese martial arts, Taijiquan was influenced by Chinese traditional philosophy, religion, war, and medicine. While Taijiquan retains the basic skills of combat, it also has a rich context of traditional Chinese culture.
The "Six Styles" constitute the technical system of Taijiquan. Historically, Taijiquan was shaped in the late Ming Dynasty in Henan County. As a result of the ongoing efforts of generation after generation it eventually evolved into "Chen style" taijiquan. Thereafter, on the basis of the "Chen style" Taijiquan, "Yang style" and "Wu style" were also born. From the late Qing dynasty to the early years of the Republic of China, "Sun"and "Wu" appeared too. In 1956,"24-form" Taijiquan marked the formation of the "new style" Taijiquan.
Taijiquan illustrates different characteristics of development in various historical periods. Taijiquan from the Ming and Qing period was shaped by the Republic of China period and developed rapidly in the People's Republic of China. In the process, Taijiquan benefitted from both military martial arts and folk martial arts while fostering the "six styles " Taijiquan. It kept pace with society and retained a unique concept of promoting health as it went through the developmental process. This is the main reason why Taijiquan is such a great life-force.

SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE ON THE BENEFITS OF QIGONG AND TAI CHI PRACTICES.
Dr. Shin Lin, International Alliance for Mind/Body Signaling and Energy Research, University of California, Irvine

Many different schools of Chinese mind/body practices (e.g., Qigong, Tai Chi) that involve regulation of mind, body, and respiration are thought to improve health and healing by enhancing development and circulation of Qi. The goal of our research centres is to apply the latest biomedical technologies to gain a better understanding of the physiological basis of these beneficial effects. This study of 25 high level Qigong/Tai Chi practitioners and 15 control subjects has documented: increased peripheral blood flow; a pattern of high frequency variation of heart rate indicative of deep relaxation and elevation of parasympathetic function; an increase in both high and low frequency waves at the midline-frontal area of the brain, consistent with a dual state of mental relaxation and concentration; an increase of 15-25% of pre-polarization conductance at the jing-well acupoints of the 12 major meridians; and increased energy (heat, light and electromagnetism) in the hand after Qigong/Tai Chi practice. Emerging data from collaborative studies at Alliance laboratories are showing that Qigong/Tai Chi practices can lead to measurable enhancement of mind/body functions and energy levels. This research is supported by L.S. Rockefeller Fund/Samueli Program for Energy Medicine Research, Joseph and Sou-Lin Lee Endowment for Traditional Chinese Medicine Research.

 

TAIJI AND REDUCING FEAR OF FALLING: AN EXPLORATION OF TAIJI AS IN VIVO EXPOSURE
Shane Kachur, BMR(P.T.) , R. Nicholas Carleton , M.A., and
Gordon J.G. Asmundson Ph.D.
Anxiety and Illness Behaviour Laboratory, University of Regina
Peng Fei International Wushu Association

Abstract
Falls in the elderly can cause injuries that often lead to loss of independence. Loss of postural sway, balance, and slower reaction times are strong predictors of falling (Lajoie and Gallagher, 2004). Traditional exercise programs focus on studying and treating these factors (Tideiksaar, 1997; Shumway-Cook et al, 1997b); however, fear of falling, another strong predictor of falls, has received relatively little attention in the treatment literature (Maki et al, 1991; Rawsky, 1997). There are indications of a direct link between fear of falling and falls (Myers et al, 1996), and a relationship between fear-related avoidance of activities and falling (Delbaere et al, 2004). Taiji, an ancient Chinese martial art turned exercise regimen (Wolf et al, 2001), has been shown to be effective ameliorating traditional factors for falling as well as reducing fear (Wolf et al, 1996; Taggart, 2002; Tsang et al, 2004). Like graded exposure therapies, Taiji practitioners slowly and progressively achieve increasingly difficult postures that simulate potentially fearful situations in a calming environment. Indeed, relative to other exercise treatments, such as computerized balance training, education, and graded exercise, Taiji has produced significant reductions in fear of falling and in actual falls (Taggart, 2002; McGibbon et al, 2005, Wolf et al, 1996). The purpose of this presentation is to review the research to date advocating the efficacy of Taiji, as Graded Exposure therapy against fear of falling and falls in seniors. Implications and future research directions will be discussed.

THE EFFECTS OF TAIJI ON BALANCE AND MOBILITY IN OLDER WOMEN WHO ARE AT VARIOUS RISK LEVELS FOR FALLS
Allen, Dale and Taylor, Jane
School of Kinesiology
Lakehead University
Thunder Bay

Abstract
The purpose of the present study was to examine the effects of Taiji on biomechanical and functional measures of balance and gait in older adults who are at risk for falls. The participants were 34 women ranging in age from 55 to 85, who completed a 10 week program of 8 forms of Taiji. All participants were assessed on measures of postural sway and measures of balance, gait, handgrip strength and falls, prior to and following the intervention period. Postural sway included antero-posterior (AP) sway, area of sway, and path length and was measured during quiet standing with eyes open and eyes closed and during a dynamic balance task. Following intervention, completion of a social validation questionnaire captured participants’experiences. Eighteen of the participants were novices and 16 had an average of 34.4 hours of Tai Chi experience. Results indicated that the novices increased on all measures and the experienced increased both AP sway and area of sway in both static balance conditions (eyes open and closed). In the dynamic balance task increases in AP sway, area of sway, and path length occurred for both groups. Right grip strength increased 7%. The number of fallers changed from 8 before the study to 2 during the study. More than 85% of the participants reported improved functional status, such as balance, strength, flexibility, energy and mental state. The results suggest that increased sway and increases in balance space may be responses that are attributed, in part, to the Taiji intervention.


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THE MODERN CULTURE CHARACTER OF CHINESE TRADITIONAL SHADOWBOXING

Qin Zi Lai
Wuhan University

Abstract

Based on research methods like studying literature, interviewing experts and logical analysis, this paper discusses Chinese traditional martial arts, particularly the martial arts subsystem called shadowboxing, as well as its social cultural background. It is argued that in the condition of modern social economy, to make a continuous development of traditional shadowboxing, its potential resource advantage should be developed under modern conditions, taking into consideration unearthing the inner function of traditional shadowboxing to quickly and perfectly complete the transition from ”small martial art” to ”large martial art” and the development from ”inner culture” to ”external culture”.


GRASPING THE BIRD'S TAIL: TAIJI COMMUNITIES AND THE EMERGENCE OF CIVIL SOCIETY IN CHINA

Glenda Liu Quarnstrom, PH D
Grand Valley State University
Allendale, Michigan, USA

Abstract
Is the Chinese government attempting to co-opt dissent through encouraging participation in legally sanctioned taiji events? By gaining legitimacy are taiji groups precluded from influencing the political system? Are taiji groups an indication that civil society is emerging in China? During the summers of 2004 and 2005, I conducted surveys and interviews with Yang-style taiji practitioners in Taiyuan China in an attempt to determine whether the Yang-style Tai Chi Chuan Association could fulfill a political role. Between the two surveys, members of the association joined other park users to request improvements to the park where they practice every morning. Their requests were granted. While this by itself does not constitute "civil society." it does suggest a fluid relationship between state and society in which groups such as the Shanxi Yang-style Tai Chi Chuan Association can impact policy.


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TAICHI AND CONTEMPORARY HUMAN SOCIETY
Professior Qiu Pixiang, Shanghai Sports University

Science, technology and big business have given the world many benefits and many headaches. Aside from the environmental pollution, warfare, and energy shortages that now confront us, the people of the world face: cerebral-cardiac disease; neuroses; and quality of life issues as they age. The Chinese sport of Tai Chi, though not a remedy for any disease, is a terrific way to solve or effectively alleviate these three social issues if you can persist in its practice. It can be vital to humans' existence and living. Since the 1950's research on Tai Chi and human health has demonstrated its impact on brain waves, cardiac responses, blood lipids and capillary circulation. Sixteen million people in the world die of cardiac disease, while we know that Tai Chi can lower blood lipids, increase lung capacity, improve myocardial nutrition, and actually prevent this disease. In addition, Tai Chi can enhance personal relationships and provide inner peace. All in all, the function of Tai Chi is to link physical health, psychological health and life philosophy together and to offer humans a positive prescription for long life.

THE DEVELOPMENT AND DIFFUSION OF SPORTS CULTURE
Professor Yang Wenxuan, South China Normal University

Music as an Aid to Taiji/Qigong Practice
by Dr. Yang Yang and Ms. Yang Ying

Abstract

In the West, myriad experiments have found music to be an aid to stress reduction and relaxation, and music therapy is an accepted clinical treatment in health care facilities. For thousands of years, Chinese have also believed that music has healing properties. Indeed, the Chinese character for music is the major part of the ancient Chinese character for medicine . Also, the Chinese character for happiness and music is one and the same!

Relaxation is an essential principle of Taiji/Qigong practice, and is even credited as the reason why qigong is beneficial to health in the famous traditional saying:

Qigong neng qu bing, yuan you zai song jing.

Song (relaxation) and jing (tranquility/quietness)
are the reasons why qigong can heal you.

Although Taiji requires relaxation as a fundamental principle of practice, beginning practitioners often feel an increased tenseness when confronted with the difficulties of learning choreographed movement and “keeping up with the class.” Sitting and standing qigong practices are an integral component of traditional training in all of the internal martial arts of China, and one purpose of these exercises is to promote a learned relaxation response that can be carried forward to, and promote efficient learning of, Taiji form movements. However, because meditation exercises are new to many practitioners and sometimes perceived in the West as foreign and therefore inconsistent with participants’ past experiences, cultures, and values, beginning practitioners often find it difficult to relax and “enter quiet” in these essential foundation exercises also. Further, because the purpose and benefits of the meditation exercises are not well known, beginning practitioners of all cultures often mistakenly feel that they are “doing nothing”, and quickly tire of the practice.

In a 6-month Taiji/Qigong RCT at the University of Illinois, music was used as a relaxation and memory aid for Taiji form practice, and in conjunction with guided mental imagery as a relaxation aid for standing and sitting qigong meditation practice. Dr. Yang will share the traditional curriculum used in this study, and invite participants to experience and judge for themselves the efficacy of music as a relaxation and learning aid for Taiji and qigong. This will be a “hands-on” workshop where participants will be invited to actively participate in Taiji and Qigong. Ms. Yang Ying, the longtime erhu soloist for the premier Chinese traditional song and dance ensemble, will make a guest appearance and perform live music during the workshop.

Dr. Yang Yang: With both Law and Engineering degrees earned in China, Master Yang practiced business law for several years before coming to the United States to study for a Master's Degree in Economics at Illinois State University. He has recently completed a Doctorate Degree in Kinesiology at the University of Illinois, where his research focuses directly on the benefits and mechanisms of Taiji and Qigong practice. He is currently a visiting professor at the University of Illinois and the Director of the Center for Taiji Studies.

He began the study of Taiji at the age of twelve, and credits Taiji practice with curing a congenital heart condition. As a young man Yang studied with several 18th generation masters of the Chen style, including Chen Zhaokui, Gu Liuxin, and Feng Zhiqiang. For three consecutive years, Yang won first place in the Taiji division of the Shanghai all-university martial arts competition and in 1983 he was voted best overall martial artist. These accomplishments earned him a position as instructor at the Shanghai Chen Style Research Association. In 1988, he became a formal disciple of Grandmaster Feng Zhiqiang. Master Yang's Taiji and Qigong studies now span 30 years.

 

Dr. Yang is also the author of the recently published book "Taijiquan: the Art of Nurturing, the Science of Power," and is one of our Featured Speakers and will be addressing the topic "Best Taiji Practices: Evidence Based Traditional Curriculum" Wednesday, July 19 at 9:30 am in Lecture Room 351.

Ms. Yang Ying began the study of the erhu at the age of five, and by thirteen was performing solo concerts. She graduated from the Opera University of Henan, China and from 1978-1996 was the featured solist for the Central Song and Dance Ensemble ( Zhong Yang Ge Wu Tuan) in Beijing. During her tenure, she routinely traveled throughout Asia performing Heads of State (including three American Presidents: Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter). She also frequently recorded for the film and record industry in China, and formed and played in Cobra, China's first all female rock band. In 1996, Ms. Yang Ying's accomplishments were recognized by her inclusion in the Chinese government's publication of Famous Persons of China. She will be performing some of her own compositions on Wednesday, July 19 in the evening at the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, see Taiji Workshops Schedule.


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BEST TAIJI PRACTICE: EVIDENCE BASED TRADITIONAL CURRICULUM
Dr. Yang Yang, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Center for Taiji Studies

A famous Chinese saying, shi ban gong bei, means that if you study something, anything, in an efficient way, you can learn it in a fraction of the time. Another well known saying pointedly advises: quan gui de fa, which translates "to learn martial arts, the most important thing is to practice in the proper way." Although a cornerstone of Taiji practice, slow movement by itself is not so complete that it can efficiently yield all the benefits of martial arts. An efficient curriculum includes: qigong, form, and push-hands. It is important to know that the combined effects of correct practice of all exercises are greater than practice of individual exercises. Dr. Yang will provide a summary of the benefits and purpose of traditional Taiji training, and will then provide an overview of quantitative and qualitative research that used a traditional curriculum of sitting and standing qigong meditation and Taiji form practice. In this randomized controlled trial (RCT) on healthy older adults (mean age 79.5 yrs, std. dev. = 8.3), significant improvements were observed in balance and strength measures after only two months with a moderate training/instruction schedule (3 one-hour sessions per week x 8 weeks = 24 hours of practice). Dr. Yang will outline principles of form practice that are important in both disseminating Taiji to a broader audience and allowing practitioners to efficiently realize benefits of practice. Lastly, Dr. Yang will provide qualitative evidence that traditional training can be a transforming life experience. Such holistic benefits are evidenced by participants' statements: This is wonderful!. . . and it's affecting everything!. . .it's been exhilarating in many ways. . . I'm going to live the rest of my life differently.

The Medicine Wheel and The Yin Yang Symbol: Health and Healing from A Native American Perspective
Gerry Martin and Lorraine Mayer
A HUNDRED FLOWERS
Ed Cooper & Steve Higgins
Canadian Taijiquan Federation

Abstract
"Let a hundred flowers (bloom), let a hundred schools of thought contend." (Mao Tsetung, 1971)
“Different forms and styles . . . should develop freely and different schools . . . should contend freely . . Free discussion should take place in artistic and scientific circles and through practical work in these fields. Toleration and openness is the best way to handle opposing views.”
Ed and Steve will present the Art and Science of teaching taijiquan effectively, a synopsis from lectures, guided explorations and best practices shared at three recent Canadian Taijiquan Federation Taijiquan Teachers’ Training seminars. The seminars focused on pedagogy, the instructing in teaching methods, drawing on traditional Chinese practice and philosophy and merged with Western thoughts about what we know about learning, learners and the environment.


SLOW SPARRING AND COUNTERPOINTS:
DECONSTRUCTING THE MECHANICS OF T'AI CHI

David X. Swenson PhD and David Longsdorf MA.
The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN.

Abstract

This program will demonstrate the use of a slow motion method to learning san shou (free sparring). The method teaches form precision, application, spontaneity, and especially a yielding attitude with one's ego. The slow approach is a gentle introduction to sparring for hesitant students, and an effective means of reducing aggressiveness in competitive students. These slow forms have also enabled the discovery of counter-points. These are locations and leverage points on the partner's body that, when touched, neutralize push, pull, press, and several chin-na (seizing) techniques. Use of the points demonstrated the important role of stance and posture, and that small stature can be effective in sparring. This program will involve audience participation to demonstrate principles and application of slow sparring and six of the 18 counter-points.

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DEVELOPING LEADERSHIP CHARACTERISTICS IN YOUTH
UTILIZING PRINCIPLES OF TAIJIQUAN

Dr. C. J. Rhoads
Kutztown University
Douglassville, PA

Abstract

This paper will describe a program based on Taijiquan designed for children ages 10 to 17 that both directly and indirectly provides increased success in conflict resolution options and leadership characteristics. Utilizing research in both the health and psychology fields, the program was designed to decrease feelings of isolation and incidences of anti-social behavior. Pilot programs of the curriculum, called ”Pacem In Vita” (latin for Peace In Life) will be discussed, along with both anecdotal and qualitative research identifying the benefits for the participants. Previous studies by Wendy Troop-Gordon and Steven Asher on 252 children ages 9 to 12 years old (133 boys, 119 girls) and found that children’s goals changed significantly when they encountered obstacles to conflict resolution, and these changes were predictive of their subsequent strategy choices. Both aggressive- and submissive-rejected children were more likely to evidence antisocial changes in their goals, including an increased desire to retaliate. Other studies demonstrated an increased variability of conflict resolution in children who has undergone martial arts training. The results of the pilot programs are compared to the literature and previous findings

View Taijiquan from Macroscopic and Microscopic Angles
Zeng Nailiang
China state-level coach
Fujian Huawu Gongfu Coaching Center

Abstract

Taijiquan is an extremely attractive sport in China's martial arts treasure-house. It is a resplendent jewel in the quintessence of Chinese culture. This sport is a young and at the same time an old sport. It is young because it has existed for about three hundred and fifty years only. And it is old because it originates from Chinese culture which has a history of five thousand years. Taijiquan has become fashionable all over the world.

1. Seven stages of Taijiquan development.
2. Relationship between Taijiquan and Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism and traditional Chinese medicine.
3. Main points in judging the level of Taijiquan players.
4. Styles and characteristics of different schools of Taijiquan: Yang, Chen, Wu, Sun, etc.

Taijiquan has already formed its own system, which includes bare-handed forms, weapons (sword, broadsword, fan, stick etc.), set sparring (both bare-handed and with weapons) and group events. Taijiquan will certainly develop into an independent sport event which is parallel with Wushu. "Big Taiji" is likely to be formed after Taijiquan is combined with Eight Diagrams Palm, Form and Will Boxing, and Changquan (Long Boxing) etc.



Master Zeng Nailiang, National Level Martial Arts Coach and Vice-chair of Fujian Martial Arts Association, Master Zeng is one of our Key Note Speakers.

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Poster Sessions


ZHENG MANQING (CHENG MAN-CH'ING) AND HIS INNOVATIONS IN TAIJIQUAN PEDAGOGY

Barbara Davis

Abstract
One of the leading figures of late twentieth-century taijiquan, Zheng Manqing made a number of important contributions to the spread of taijiquan. In this poster session, I focus on Zheng's pedagogical innovations: changes in teaching formats, curriculum, creation of a shortened form, and his use of what were then cutting-edge instructional technologies of film and video. I give particular attention to how he bridged cultural gaps when he began teaching in the United States in the 1960s after having taught in the Chinese mainland and Taiwan for several decades.

Barbara Davis
(MA East Asian Studies, University of Minnesota), is author of The Taijiquan Classics: An Annotated Translation (North Atlantic Books 2004), and translator of Chen Weiming's Taiji Sword (North Atlantic Books, 2000). She is editor of Taijiquan Journal and is at work on a study of Zheng Manqing's life. Her prior work, "In Search of a Unified Dao: Zheng Manqing's Life and Contributions to Taijiquan" was published in the Journal of Asian Martial Arts 5/2 (1996). She is director of Great River T'ai Chi Ch'uan in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, and is an associate editor of the Journal of Asian Martial Arts.


HEALTH BENEFITS OF T’AI CHI: RESEARCH AND CLINICAL EVIDENCE

David X. Swenson and David Longsdorf
The College of St. Scholastica and Superior Martial Arts, Superior, WI

Abstract

T’ai chi has been used for generations as a form of healing and health promotion in China. However, rigorous research on the benefits of practice has been lacking until recent years. Studies have appeared in professional journals in sports medicine, physical therapy, exercise physiology, nursing, gerontology, and psychology that provide information on applications of t’ai chi. This poster presentation will provide an overview of the empirical evidence for its benefits. Several physiological processes and structures are involved in practice, and changes have been monitored in cardiovascular, motor coordination and balance, and immune systems. A variety of physiological and psychological disorders have been shown to respond favorably to practice. However, there are also several conditions that may be complicated by or respond adversely to practice, and cautions and contraindications will be reviewed.

David X. Swenson PhD
Forensic Psychologist and Associate Professor of Management, The College of St. Scholastica, Duluth, MN. Professor Swenson has been a student and teacher of t’ai chi for 40 years, a student of T. T. Liang and Jou Tsung Hwa.

David Longsdorf MA is a 10-year student and teacher of t’ai chi, and psychotherapist who uses t’ai chi in practice. He is the Sifu of Superior Martial Arts in Superior, WI., and has conducted research with Dr. Swenson for five years on the physiological and psychological benefits of practice.


CHINESE CALLIGRAPHY DEMONSTRATION
Jiang Jian-ye

Shifu Jianye Jiang was born in 1950 and has studied Wushu from the age of 5, learning from well-known masters such as Yu Mingwei, Yu Hai and many others. He received BA and master's degrees from Qufu University and Shanghai Physical Education Institute. A national and international judge in China and the U.S., he is also a master calligrapher and winner of national and international awards. Sales of his calligraphy have garnered more than $10,000, all donated to the Shandong Disabled Association. He has also acted in movies produced in China, Australia, and Japan.


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MY LIFE IS MY ART: LIVED EXPERIENCES OF OLDER ADULTS PRACTICING TAIJI (T’AI CHI) AND QIGONG (CH’I KUNG)
Yang, Y., DeCelle, S., Reed, M., Rosengren, K., Schlagal, R., Greene, J.

Presenter: Yang Yang, Director, Center for Taiji Studies
Visiting Professor of Kinesiology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Purpose: This study investigated the multi-dimensional effects of a six-month Taiji/Qigong traditional curriculum intervention with older adults, in order to enrich our understanding of the character and extent of benefits of the intervention, and to construct a model useful for describing and understanding the meanings respondents attributed to their experience with Taiji.

Dr. Yang Yang: With both Law and Engineering degrees earned in China, Master Yang practiced business law for several years before coming to the United States to study for a Master's Degree in Economics at Illinois State University. He has recently completed a Doctorate Degree in Kinesiology at the University of Illinois, where his research focuses directly on the benefits and mechanisms of Taiji and Qigong practice. He is currently a visiting professor at the University of Illinois and the Director of the Center for Taiji Studies.
THE EFFECT OF A 6 MONTH TAIJI (T’AI CHI) AND QIGONG (CH’I KUNG) INTERVENTION ON OLDER ADULTS’ LOWER BODY STRENGTH AND BALANCE BEHAVIORS

Yang, Y., Verkuilen, J., Grubisich, S. Reed, M., Rosengren, K.

Presenter: Yang Yang, Director, Center for Taiji Studies
Visiting Professor of Kinesiology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Background: The author’s objectives were to determine the effect of a 6 month Taiji and Qigong (TQ) intervention on healthy older adults’ balance and lower body strength, and to explore mechanisms for improvements in balance and stability afforded by TQ training.

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