Winter

We are passing through the fall season and preparing for winter. One must keep in mind that winter is the most Yin time of the year and we must practice our qigong accordingly.

The emphasis should be more on meditation and slower exercises to conserve our energy. It is a time for introspection. There are a great many styles and types of meditations that one can use. The Inner Smile meditation, Dantian mediation, Balancing the Yin and Yang Meditation and Standing Meditation to help build the energy in the body. You can find so many and there are many resources available to you.

Eat accordingly as well. Foods that are harmonious with winter are: black beans, black mushrooms, blackberries, black sesame seeds, black soybeans, blueberries, cabbages, celery, chard, cranberries, ginger, kale, kidney beans, kohlrabi, longon, miso, ocean pearch, parsley, pine nuts, prunes, raspberries, rutabaga, seaweed, shrimp, soy sauce, string beans, turnips, walnuts.

Congee is a good winter meal and easy to digest. It is basically a rice porridge and it is easy to digest and tonifies the blood and qi; it also harmonizes the digestive process. Here is a basic recipe that you can use:

1 cup of rice

5-10 cups of water (depending on how thick you want it)

Cook 4-6 hours on a low flame.

When finished you can season it with salt, miso or honey

(You can also add some fish, pork, chicken and some green onions)

Enjoy!

congee

 

The Places I Teach!

Many times people ask me where I teach and I just rattle off the names of those places. I have never given it much thought until now. Why do I teach at these places? Why don’t I have my own studio? Why some places and not others?

After deeply thinking about these questions I would have to answer, the people. It is the people at these places that keeps me teaching there. Not just the people who come for the classes but those who work there as well.

At 1-2-1 fitness on the campus of Case Western Reserve University the people who come for class are great. They love to learn and they continue to come each class. The managers, staff and personal trainers there are really, really great people. Friendly, helpful and always willing to say hi to you and ask how things are going with your class. The trainers recommend people to my class and I recommend people to the trainers. It is like a big family all looking out for each other.

It is no different at the Geauga County YMCA. The staff are always greeting me with a smile and asking how I am doing. The wonderful ladies in charge are always asking how my class is going? What can they do to generate more interest in Tai Chi and Qigong? If people have questions they send them to me and allow people to actually try out a class to see if they like it.

Balanced Solutions, a physical therapy office, where I just recently started teaching; thank you Laurie and Kelly, I find the same atmosphere. Kind, friendly people always greeting me with a smile and asking questions about what I teach and would it help their patients. Of course the answer is yes.

So if I had my own studio I would miss out on all the kind and friendly people I come in contact with each week. It is the kindness the feeling of belonging that I continue to teach at these places. Even when they may be having a bad day they still greet you with the same smile and kindness. And that is what makes all the difference.

So a big Thank You to all of these institutions for allowing me to teach there!

Thank You

Humility!

I have been in the martial arts for over 40 years as a student, teacher and enthusiast and one of the most important things that I have learned has been humility. When I competed in karate tournaments when I lost my opponent did not look down on me we shared where I may have done better or done something differently. When I won the same scenario took place.

What we learn in the martial arts are that we are no better or worse than the other person. We may be on different levels or have different skills neither better nor worse, neither superior nor inferior. We compete to learn and to challenge ourselves. The best part of my competing was the camaraderie. We could face the same person at different tournaments and still feel the bond that we originally made.

In my teaching of Tai Chi and Qigong I am humbled by how many people tell me their health has improved because of my teaching, because of my example and because of my caring. But I know it is not me but they who by their dedication and effort to learn is what has improved their health and lives. I see myself only as a guide to show them the way. A good teacher leads the student to the door but the student must go through!

I want to Thank all of my students and Teachers for all that they have shared with me over the years!

Recognizing your talents doesn’t mean believing they’re limitless. Accepting your strengths doesn’t lead to pride, but instead to humility; you’re less likely to resent what others have if you understand your own bounty. Gina Barreca

 

Passing of a Loved One!

It is funny how the passing of a loved one always gets us thinking about our own mortality until several weeks or months have gone by and we just forget about it until the next passing of a loved one.

I have just lost another brother, younger than me and so full of life even though he suffered from MS which had ravaged his body but not his mind. He still had a sense of humor and loved to laugh up until the very end.

Tomorrow we celebrate his passing with my sister-in-law who wants to have all of us write a note to him and then release it on balloons to carry them up to him. Although he is gone physically he is still with us everyday in our hearts and our minds.

We all have special prayers that we usually rely on when a loved one passes and mine comes from a book written by Brooke Medicine Eagle and is a Native American Prayer. Here it is:

Native American Prayer 

Don’t stand at my grave and weep

For I am not there; I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.

I am the diamond’s glint on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the gentle autumn’s rain.

 

When you awaken in morning’s hush,

I am the swift uplifting rush

of quiet birds in circling flight.

I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry.

I am not there; I did not die.

Rest in Peace my brother!

 

 

Why write about Hypnosis?

So, I published a new book on Hypnosis titled “The Kid Hypnotist”. I have always been fascinated with hypnosis since I was a kid. I remember going to the library and trying to find books on hypnosis to read. At the time there were not very many of them.

My interest was sparked by ads I would see in the back of the comic books. Hypnotize your friends in 10 easy lessons. Give me one evening and I’ll show you how to hypnotize. Hypno-coin new pocket size invention helps you to hypnotize in minutes.

Many years later I was able to train and become a Master Hypnotist and people always ask me what the benefits are or how can hypnosis help me.

It can help you:

  • release excess weight
  • stop smoking
  • improve self-esteem
  • reduce stress and calm your nerves
  • sleep better
  • ease pain
  • ease symptoms of IBS
  • quell hot flashes
  • achieve life goals

Plus there are many more ways it can help. My intent in writing the book was to try and get young people interested in hypnosis the way I was when I was younger. Enjoy the book and let me know what you think of it. It is available at Amazon.

Kid Hypnotist 2a1+}

Tai Chi tag!?

So I was asked to teach a 7 week after school program at a local middle school. A challenge indeed. Trying to teach 5th-7th grade kids who are more interested in going home than participating in a Tai Chi and Qigong class. The boys are generally very hyped up and just want to run and wrestle with each other.

Right before the third class one of the boys asked me what we were going to do and I responded that we were going to learn the Tai Chi 24 form. His response was “can we play Tai Chi tag?”. I asked him how would that work and he had no idea. He suggested that I come up with a way to play the game.

After spending a few days thinking of it I came up with this idea which they seemed to like. First they must spend at least half of the class learning the form and remembering what each form was called. The second half would be playing the game.

The person who is it will chase and tag someone. Within five seconds the person who is it must yell out one of the 24 forms and the person he/she tagged would have to perform the form within five seconds or then they become it. If the person who is it cannot think of a form in five seconds then he remains it. Each week more forms are added so that they have more forms to choose from. The game is played in a limited space so as not to prolong one person being it.

They enjoyed the game and now look forward to learning more of the Tai Chi form.

If you have any comments or thoughts I would love to hear from you.

Why I teach Qigong/Tai Chi

I am often asked how did I become a teacher of Qigong and Tai Chi? It stems from over 40 years of martial arts training (various styles). My first teacher I actually found at a health fair at Hiram College when I was an adjunct faculty member there. The soft style of Tai Chi and the Qigong were a good complementary form to the hard styles that I was learning. Since then I have learned from various teachers and various forms of Qigong and the Yang Style of Tai Chi.

But what I like most about teaching is when I hear how it affects the students that I teach. Some examples of what they have said follow.

Learning Tai Chi has had an impact on my arms and shoulders, they have gotten stronger and my balance has improved a great deal. Helen 80+years of age.

I took Tai Chi to help relieve the stress of going back to school and found that it also helped with my blood pressure. My visit at my doctor’s office had my blood pressure at 104/68 and my pulse was 70 after one month of taking class the subsequent visit my blood pressure was 92/58 and my pulse was 60. Robin 48 years of age.

After injuring my back several years ago I was still in pain and had bad reactions to pain medication. A year and half ago I began Tai Chi and Qigong training and the gentle movements relieve the arthritis pain in my joints and my balance has improved considerably. I have found that it also helps me to stay young and focused. Sara 70+ years of age.

This more than anything else is why I teach. By teaching I give back and help a great many people.

Smock, Pa.

I have been asked on several occasions as to how I came up with the name Smock for the town in my books where the story takes place. I love the reactions when I tell them that it really exists.

It is an old coal mining town about 60 miles south of Pittsburgh and was founded in 1869 by Samuel Smock. Smock’s development as a mining town was unusual. Typically, mining towns in Southwestern Pennsylvania after 1880 were developed and built by one coal company. The housing was architecturally uniform. Smock differs because it was developed into five architecturally distinct settlements by three coal companies and one individual.

My mom and dad were born there as well as my older brother and sister. I still have relatives who live there. It was my memories of visiting there in the summers that made it the perfect place for the story setting. The hills and country area where you could roam around and pick blackberries, go fishing or just hang around with cousins and play football or basketball. You could also find a spring coming out of a hill where you could get a drink of fresh cool water. Not sure if you could find that there today.

I have not been back for many years and I am told that it has changed but the memories that I have will not. If you ever pass through stop in at the historical society and take a look around.

smock fire dept.

A Martial Artist turns 60

Last month I transitioned from the realm of middle age to senior citizen. I still feel middle aged but society and numbers say differently. As I turned 60 I began to look back at my martial arts training and the journey that I am still on. I have met some wonderful people along the way and have learned quite a bit about life and myself.

I remember the first time I had seen anything about karate. I was in elementary school and my oldest brother had a magazine about karate and to this day I cannot remember the name of it. I do remember that it was all on the Japanese arts and I do remember some of the names as well one was Hidetaka Nishiyama. I saw pictures of, what to me was remarkable, of people doing these amazing kicks and breaking boards. I so wanted to learn karate at that time.

When I got to college I started to study Tae Kwon Do and my first instructor was master Sang Oh Moon at Cleveland State University. I loved every minute of my classes and training. I met so many people there and wish that I had stayed in touch with them. I also realized, at least for me, that no matter what style of martial art I study I always seem to drift back to the one I started with.

Having to leave school before finishing I studied with other teachers until finally obtaining my black belt and then going on to obtain my third degree through the World Martial Arts College founded by Grand Master Ibraham Ahmed.

I also studied various other arts such as Goshinjusu with Robert Peto and obtained the rank of yonkyu. I also studied Kajukenpo at the Karate Institute of Cleveand with Dennis Janes who studied under AlGene Caraulia winner of the first World Karate Championships in 1963. Of course there were the many videos and training manuals that I poured over. I did get to go to a Bill Wallace seminar held in Cleveland which was amazing.

I competed in several small local tournaments and did not do too bad. One of the big ones that I remember was the Canadian American open tournament held at Baldwin Wallace College. I remember watching Cynthia Rothrock compete in forms and if I had known she was going to be a popular movie actress I would have gotten her autograph.

The martial arts have taught me a great deal about dealing with adversity. It gave me confidence and taught me how to persevere. The martial arts have made me who I am today. Not perfect but continuing to strive to not only make myself better but those around me as well.

Now my passion is studying Tai Chi and Qigong. I teach and write but I still practice my Tae Kwon Do as it is in my blood. I hope that my teaching helps those who learn from me and I hope that my books are able to provide an interest for people to want to learn Tai Chi and Qigong and even perhaps start a journey much like the one that I am on.

 

What Style of Tai Chi to study?

I have been asked by several people what style of Tai Chi do I teach and what style should I study? I teach the Yang style of Tai Chi; the short form and an intermediate form. My teachers are no longer in the area where I live so I too will need to find another teacher. I try to practice my forms everyday but it is not always convenient to do so.

There are four major style of Tai Chi as it was explained to me. The Yang Style which is the most popular style taught. It has many variations even in China. Each variation has similarities but also distinct differences. Emphasizes large and medium type movements.

The Wu Style of Tai Chi is the second most popular and has three variations. There are strong differences between them derived from the founder, his son and grandchildren. It was created from the Yang style and emphasizes small compact movements.

The Chen Style is the original form of Tai Chi from which the Yang style was developed. The Chen style alternates between slow movements with short, fast, explosive ones. It is physically demanding is difficult for elderly people and those with injuries. It’s physical difficulty and athletic type moves are more appealing to younger people.

The Sun Style is the fourth major style taught and is noted for it’s smooth flowing movements. It has gentle postures and high stances which eliminates some of the deep stances and crouching of the other forms.

The advice I generally give to people is to go and watch a class. See if the style that is being taught resonates with you. Also talk to the instructor and see what kind of feeling you get from them. And lastly talk to the students and see how they like the class and the teacher. If you don’t feel good about it then that particular style and teacher may not be for you!

Do your research and when you find the style that fits you and your personality you will find all the joy and benefits that many others enjoy!