Open House September 15th!
Greetings of the glorious fall season! I'm in the mood for an Open House. Come and meet us, try some classes or jumpstart your fall session, officially starting the 16th. We'll be there from 10-1. Meet the Teaching Team, win prizes: free classes & workshops, Acupuncture, Massage, Qi Running, Gardening! Its the last day to snap up a great deal on early registration, including for new students! In the meantime, here is a jammed packed newsletter so enjoy and we'll see you on the floor real soon!
The New Model
This December a group of twelve students will complete Embrace The Moon’s Advanced Qigong Training program. From there several will go on to test for their certification to become Qigong Teachers. Over two years ago, twenty-two students declared their wish to begin and enrolled in the first workshop series. Within the first few months, ten dropped out. These twelve remaining have been steady, forging their intention through the demanding process set forth in front of them. It is not as through opportunities for them to quit did not arise. Each student encountered one if not multiple life hurdles they did not expect: death, illness, job loss, job change, as well as the regular distractions we all encounter on a daily basis. Yet instead of quitting, each one found their way, persevering through a landscape of personal transformation.
The requirements for The Training are rigorous. Students must attend 200 hours of workshop intensives, held almost monthly, that include detailed study with experts in the areas of Traditional Chinese Medical Theory, Five Element Theory, Human Movement Methods including Anatomy & Kinesiology, Taoist Philosophy, History, Teaching Methods and of course in-depth Form Development and Correction. 200 hours is a bit of a misnomer because students are also required to attend ongoing weekly classes, develop and strengthen to consistency their home practice, work with each other outside classtime, complete homework assignments (including hand writing notes of appreciation to those who have helped them along), analyze themselves on video-tape, and critique each other (the most difficult part for most). They are asked to help out around the dojo, apprentice in classes, in workshop settings, as well as in non-school settings. (I should add that all of the students have been enrolled in classes before the Training: from six months to seven years, on average, 5 years with consistent, weekly attendance of 1-3x per week.) Prior to any formalized testing, all of these requirements must be met, a final presentation submitted and all financial requirements of the program complete.
As the creator and director of the program I was faced with several complex issues. First and foremost there is no national, legalized certification route for teachers of Qigong or Taijiquan, so there are no standardized guidelines for excellence. Traditionally, students were only taught the deeper aspects of the art after many years of training, sometime harsh by our current standards. Before they were able to convey to others their character was scrutinized, training session by training session over years and years. If they met the teacher's and the family's standards they allowed to teach. Why? Historically, Taijiquan and Qigong were tools used for the very survival of a village or a family lineage and so it was essential that not only skill, but character integrity was in place. This type of societal environment does not exist any more yet it is still important for the skills to be cultivated and conveyed with integrity. Questions arise then. How does a Qigong or Taijiquan teacher fit into society now-a-days? How do we train practitioners to become one? How do we measure skill and excellence?
First we must answer the question, “what is the place of Qigong and Taijiquan in modern society?” Are these methods health tonics? Exercise forms? Meditation? Martial Arts? There is definitely a value’s confusion around this question. The underlying concepts of these skills are rooted in a time, a culture and a language that is relatively unfamiliar to the modern educated mind. Qigong and Taijiquan are not really even embraced by the younger generation in China these days - they are too busy working for the “American Dream.” As we address this question of value, we must also recognize that science is just now finding ways of measuring results but even these scientific methods themselves know they do not tell the whole story. Because of all this ambiguity, I feel it has been easy for the media to either fantasize the glory of these skills or diminish them. Perhaps the biggest values gap however comes from not understanding what these arts actually do for the practitioner: Restore Balance.
Balance truly is becoming more and more of an enigma to us all. We are building a future that has no idea how to encorporate a way of life that is balanced. Seeing the consequences, we know instinctively it is absolutely crucial that we find it again, restore it to our daily life and cultivate it as a strong social value for future generations. Solving this paradox is where Qigong and Taijiquan can fit snugly and securely into our world at this time. Why? Because they are excellent time proven routes back to balance. How? At their core, Qigong and Taijiquan are very pragmatic methods to help us to first become quiet and then to listen to ourselves. From this we become aware. And then we build a structure, through techniques themselves that provide us physical strength and internal fortitude. With stillness, awareness and strength, we can confidently act as we need to, to change. In this way our practice allows us to continually explore and adjust ourselves. Sometimes the adjustments are small, we learn to correct our posture and observe our back pain goes away. Sometimes large, we gain the courage to change jobs and find our depression goes away. The fact is that everything in nature, in our nature, is fluid, changing and constantly modifying itself. Balance is learning how to read and respond to that reality, and this is what we are really teaching. So, as both practice and profession, no matter how you use them: health, meditation, exercise, martial skill, even character development, Qigong and Taijiquan are in fact processes of reclaiming and refining one's equilibrium. I can think of no better work at this time on our planet than this.
Then, how to create and model a Training program that both stimulates deep skills development and promotes excellence in this very distinctive and crucial territory? How to create leaders who understand their job is not just to teach a form but to create a bridge between the struggles of the present and the possibilities of the undetermined future? How to host a program that prepares students to become leaders who can steward others who trust them along that span? These for me are the biggest challenges, quite possibly, of my career to date.
Those who are ready will test for their Qigong certification (Taijiquan is next year) this December. They will, as stated above, have fulfilled the requirements set forth. However, the wild card in all of it, which is the wild card for all of us in these practices, will come when the student is asked to demonstrate how Qigong supports them in their process of balancing their own life. What threshold have they had to walk through to set this in motion? And how do they see their process continuing to unfold for the rest of their life? The guiding principle of balance is not only the heart of Qigong and Taijiquan; it is truly the heart of our school. Thus the Training Program was built with the intention that every aspect of it reveals, encourages and supports each participant finding their own way into balance and in doing so, they become ready to support this process in others. From what I have seen, the true goal of this training program is very close to being achieved. Salute.
Picture above, "Da Mo Enters the Cave" from the Hands of the 18 Luohan, middle, Yin Yang symbol from the Chen Taijiquan Temple, below, several of our program students, from left: Laura Quandt, Chris Kluener, Phyllis Barnes, Doug Northman, Nina Maluda with team leader Kim at the recent National Qigong Association Conference in July.
The Fifth Season: Late Summer
David A. Tucker, MSAOM, L.Ac, LMP
The Zen of Healing
Summer is waning and we all are feeling Autumn is right around the corner. "Where has Summer gone?" We are all heard saying. If you are worried that winter is coming too soon, then you are in luck! Chinese Medicine recognizes this time as its own season, a fifth season in the cycle of nature. It is not Summer, nor is it fall. This unique time with its own distinct element and phase of energy is Late Summer. Late Summer is a time of harvest, a gathering of nourishment and sustenance into an internal storehouse. The Earth Element governs this time of the year and is recognized for its capacity to smoothly transition us through the autumn and winter, setting the stage for the flourishing rebirth in spring. One of the main roles of the Earth is that of nourishment, on all levels – feeding our bodies with food, our minds with its sights, sounds, colors, smells, and our spirit by continuously providing for us. The Earth gives us foundation, understanding, a connection to center, and a sense of security and stability.
The Stomach and Spleen meridians are highlighted during this time. The Stomach receives the nourishment we put in, chews it up, and turns it into something usable for all the meridians. It is the Spleen’s job to transform and distribute this raw Qi throughout the meridian network and subsequently our body, mind, spirit. So this is a great time of year to look at the prominence of food and nourishment in your life. And aside from food, what else nourishes your mind and spirit? Is it reading a book, sharing a cup of tea, going for a walk? What is feeding your soul and how much attention and intention are you bringing to those activities?
There is a significant mental component to the Earth Element as well. As the Stomach churns and chews, so can the mind. Take this time of year to start slowing down, take a break from multi-tasking, and bring 100% of your attention to just the nourishment that you’re putting into your body. You’d be amazed as to what you can discover in a bowl of rice, the ripening of a fruit, or simply the words of a loved as you share a meal.
Then, in the not too distant future comes the time of filling our storehouses. While Nature continues its decline and starts to let go we come into full embrace of the autumn season. The air is cool and crisp accompanied by misty rains falling from the Heavens. The leaves turn from greens to fiery yellows, oranges, and reds. They let go from the branches and along with the fruits and flowers that have also fallen, rot and decompose pouring precious nutrients, minerals, and essence back into the soil. This is the Fall and the Metal Element.
Meridians that govern the Fall in our bodies are the Lungs and Colon. Physiologically, on one level, the Lungs are in charge of receiving our air, our inspiration. On a deeper level, they are in charge of receiving connection to Spirit or Highest Self and allowing for clarity, acknowledgment of our own unique roles and gifts in this life. What can we do to support this time of year within ourselves? What helps you feel supported, guided, acknowledged? What allows you to feel connected to the Divine or to what is precious?
And while its important to cultivate this connection and richness, it as just as vital to be able to let it all go when the rich nutrients of that moment or experience has been fully digested. The colon does this on a physiological level, but we must also attain it on the deeper levels of mind and spirit. Are you aware of when you need to soften your grip around an opinion, preference, expectation, storyline? Can you take a moment out of your day to connect with any holding that is occurring within your body? Is it in your neck/shoulders, low back, your belly, your ears?
One of the best ways to connect with the fall and really any time of the year is to simply connect with your breath. Take some BIG belly breaths, and be truly inspired by all that’s within and around you. Inhale - receive, inspire, acknowledge; Exhale - soften, surrender, empty... repeat.
Take care of yourselve and truly enjoy the late summer and autumn seasons!
Picture above: wildflowers on Mt. Rainier, below: The Queets River
How Should I Train?
A report on our seminar with David Gaffney & Davidine Sim
This August we were most fortunate to spend the week with two extraordinary teachers, David Gaffney & Davidine Sim. It was their first trip to the United States and along with an informative seminar; it was also my pleasure to show them around our interesting city. My husband Kevin then took us to his “backyard” for a wonderful stay on the Olympic Peninsula and a hike along the Queets river. (Read David's excellent blog post from that trip.)
We all had such a great experience sharing this time together. Throughout the seminar and the social time getting to know David & Davidine better, I kept thinking that the new model of teaching is well under way. Each of us in this generation has something special and unique to offer generations that will follow us. There is a great deal of respect we have for each other and our place in both the lineage and the future. I truly salute David & Davidine as masters of our time. They are among the very few people who have been able to study deeply with all the great Chen Master teachers, over 20 years, but who have been able to then translate into English the deeper aspects of Taijiquan and Qigong as conveyed by these teachers, without diminishing the meaning. They are also such skilled martial artists and teachers they are able to not just translate verbally but convey in the body in accessible and interesting ways. I asked them if they felt a great responsibility because of this and they said yes, because without keeping the history alive, it will be forgotten.
Friday evening's seminar highlighted the ten most frequently asked questions of Taijiquan. "How should I train" was among them. Here is a synopsis of their answer, based on their research and experience:
How should I train?
The phases Learn, Train, and Mold are linked with "opening the joints". Posture and shape should be correct, but movements may still be stiff.
The phases Flow/Smooth and Solidify are called "understanding internal aspects," where you let the movement smooth out and flow. This is where you are becoming comfortable doing it and comfortable for someone watching you.
The Solidify phase is where you get down into the postures. Power is built here.
The Dismantle and Use phases are where you understand the capabilities of the movements. You learn the movements as the whole flow, but you are also able to take parts of the flow and apply them to any situation you are in at the moment.
Xie Xie David & Davidine. We look forward to seeing you in 2013!
Featured Event: Move
I’m very excited to be collaborating with three other amazing movement practitioners on Saturday, September 22 from 1-5 pm at my other home, Club Zum. You won’t want to miss this dynamic movement conversation that spans over four hours. All levels of fitness and experience are welcome!! Talk about the new model of fitness - I’d love to see you there!
- Move with Power and Strength - Internally and Externally: Peter Smock, two time Olympian, Club Zum Founder and creator of Life Athlete
- Move fast with Agility and Athletic Grace with Zum master trainer Brian Bucsit, who among other experiences lived & trained athletes in China
- Move with Balance, Fluidity, Rhythm with Elia Mrak. You just have to see his website.
- Move Slowly and with Intention with me, Kim Ivy
Experience how all these forms of movement have a common connection in their ability to give you a body/mind conversation you won’t soon forget. 18 participants max!
In the News
Tai Chi & DNA
Taijiquan is found to possibly influence DNA
First Tai Chi and now Qigong for Fibromyaligia!
Good news for those with Fibromyaligia
Finally, here is a very beautiful demonstration of several of the forms found in Chen Taijiquan. Just click the pic! Thank you for reading this fall newsletter. Feel free to contact me personally with any questions or comments. Enjoy!
In This Edition
The New Model
The Fifth Season
David & Davidine's Workshop
Featured Event: MOVE
In the News
Events and Workshops
Tuition Increase Notice
Where to Find Us
Class Schedule Notes
Exciting News! By popular demand, we now have a Saturday 8:00 am Luohan Gong class with Larry. All welcome! Fall Schedule Here
Events & Workshops Notes
A great selection of workshops and trainings including Chen Broadsword and special guest Andrew Dale of Xin Qi Shen dojo. Fall Workshops Here.
Due to our rent increase, rates will increase across the board 5-10% effective September 16th. Take advantage of the current special, 15% off all packages, based on our current rate. That adds up to a 20-25% discount on future rates. New students, you get a great deal on 1 month of unlimited classes. $75 until the 16th, then its $90. Private sessions too, book as many as you want. Go for it!
I approve of these Orgs!
Assn. of Women Martial Arts Instructors
The National Qigong Associaton
Where to Find Us
1716 NW Market St
Seattle, WA 98107
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