Posted by: hgardiner | February 29, 2012

Tai Chi may help balance in people with Parkinson’s

The slow, controlled motions of tai chi can help the impaired balance of people with mild or moderate Parkinson’s disease, and the improvements persist for at least three months, according to a small study out Wednesday.

To read more of this article, go to:


Most people know already the health benefits from tai chi…better balance, lower stress (and consequently blood pressure), low impact, etc., especially for seniors.  You often don’t hear about the martial arts aspects of this original martial art, which Sifu Carlan Steward does teach in the afternoon/evening classes in his Carmichael school.

A news story on the martial side of tai chi can be found here (the group is based in the UK).  (It’s not much, but it’s the first story I’ve seen on the martial side of Tai Chi from another group in ages!)

Sifu Carlan teaches Original Yang Tai Chi as it has been passed down by Sifu David Chin from his sifu Quo Lien-Ying.

Sifu Carlan Steward and his students during a seminar with Sifu David Chin.

Ward off

Posted by: hgardiner | November 9, 2008

Images from the 2008 Intensive with Sifu David Chin

Lots of good things happened with the 2nd Annual Sin Tien Wu Ji Qi Gong & Original Yang Association’s Intensive Seminar in Fayetteville, NC, which included groups from the Sacramento Tai Chi group and various groups from states all over the nation.

Click on the image below to view some of the people and events!

David Chin 2008

The hits just keep on coming, when you’re talking about “newly” discovered health benefits of tai chi,.  This one is especially for the elderly:

Elderly adults who practice tai chi sleep better than those who do not, according to a study conducted by researchers from the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles, and published in the journal Sleep.

Researchers asked 112 healthy adults between the ages of 59 and 86 to fill out a questionnaire based on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, which rates the duration and quality of sleep, as well as sleep disturbances, over the course of one month. Participants were then assigned either to practice 20 simple tai chi moves, or to take part in health education classes to learn healthier sleep, diet and stress management habits. After 25 weeks, the participants took the sleep survey again

People in the tai chi group showed significant improvement on measures of sleep quality, duration and disturbances in comparison with the control group.

The findings have the potential to improve life for vast numbers of people, lead author Michael Irwin said.

“Poor sleeping constitutes one of the most common difficulties facing older adults,” said Irwin, noting that 58 percent of people aged 59 or older self-report sleeping difficulty on at least a few nights per week.

Yet in 85 percent of these cases, the problem goes untreated. Those who do receive treatment are usually given sedative drugs, which can have dangerous side effects.

“It’s not uncommon for older adults to experience daytime confusion, drowsiness, falls and fractures, and adverse interactions with other medications they may be taking,” Irwin said.

Tai chi, in contrast, improves health in general. And unlike other forms of exercise with similar health benefits, tai chi is composed of gentle, flowing movements that are not difficult or dangerous for the elderly.

“It’s a form of exercise virtually every elderly person can do, and this study provides more across-the-board evidence of its health benefits,” Irwin said.

Sources for this story include:; Original article:

If you’re having knee arthritis, then tai chi is for you.  If you are in the Sacramento area, don’t forget to look at the seniors-only classes as well! (click here for more info)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The traditional Chinese form of exercise known as tai chi can help reduce pain and physical impairment in people who have knee arthritis, researchers said on Saturday.

In their study, one group of people in their 60s with severe knee osteoarthritis performed tai chi for an hour twice a week for 12 weeks while a similar group did the same amount of conventional stretching exercises over the same period.

Those who did tai chi experienced greater pain reduction, less depression and improvements in physical function and overall health, researchers led by Dr. Chenchen Wang of Tufts Medical Center in Boston reported at a meeting of the American College of Rheumatology in San Francisco.

“Tai chi mind-body exercise appears to provide an important approach for self-care and self-management for knee (osteoarthritis),” Wang said in a statement.

The study provided the latest evidence that tai chi may offer benefits for people with arthritis. The Arthritis Foundation advocacy group recommends it for improving the quality of life of people with arthritis.

Tai chi is a form of exercise developed in China centuries ago. With tai chi, a person slowly performs a series of postures or movements that are low impact and put little stress on the muscles and joints. It can improve muscle function, balance and flexibility.

Osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis, develops when cartilage in the joints of the body wears down over time. It is incurable and worsens over time. Osteoarthritis in the knee can cause chronic pain when a person stands or walks.

Forty people took part in the study, and Wang said the findings should be confirmed in a larger study. Those who took part in the study had knee osteoarthritis for about a decade.

From this link here.  (Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Julie Steenhuysen and Peter Cooney)

Even if it’s not anywhere remotely near Sacramento, it’s good to see that more and more articles are popping up promoting the health benefits of Tai Chi and Qi Gong.  Usually it’s just Tai Chi that gets talked about, but you can read the article here:

“Qigong and tai chi have been recognized in China as low cost and effective wellness activities, which is one reason they are so popular and have been promoted as healthful since the ’30s,” said Charles Pearce, a long-time instructor in HPER’s martial arts program, which is in the Department of Kinesiology.


In China, qigong is well-known as a traditional Chinese exercise and is practiced regularly by an estimated 350,000 people, according to the Chinese Health Qigong Association, which also says the exercise can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and improve glucose metabolism. The association says the exercise also can be used to treat headaches, insomnia, pain, cardiovascular disorders and even cancer.

In the U.S., interest has grown in qigong and tai chi, which offers many of the same benefits, since the 1960s. Chinese researchers have conducted a considerable amount of research on the health benefits of the exercises. In the U.S., federal agencies have recently begun funding research into the use of qigong to prevent chronic diseases such as arthritis and cardiovascular disease, said April Wang, a doctoral student in the School of HPER’s Department of Applied Health Science. Scientific articles, abstracts and reviews about the health effects of qigong can be found at

“Some companies are already incorporating it into their wellness programs,” said Wang, who worked for the Chinese Health Qigong Association for several years before coming to IU. Recently, she began working with an aerospace company in Martinsville that has begun offering qigong classes during the workday to its employees.

This isn’t like the normal Sacramento Tai Chi type of article on health benefits for seniors, but something more in the vein of the martial arts aspect of it.  Enjoy:

Increasing Leverage by Revolving

In T’ai Chi Boxing Chronicle, Kuo Kien Ying who was taught Yang Ban Hao’s Yang style tai chi by Wang Chiao Yu, said that the movement of the body in tai chi is like that of a horizontal wheel. He said that when we receive pressure from another we should revolve like a wheel. He said the spiraling motion has the function of a lever. I was unable to picture in my mind how the lever worked until I read some of Chen Pan-ling’s Original Tai Chi Chuan Textbook.

Tai chi practitioners have often heard that the power starts in the feet, travels through the waist and is manifested through the fingers. However, this does not provide much detail about how the event actually occurs.

Chen Pan-ling describes the release of force by saying “energy originates at the heels, then flows through the waist, and reaches the fingers. Accordingly, the waist is the point of force, the fingers are the point of application of force, and the heels are the fulcrum.”

Chen’s use of the word “fulcrum” coincides with Kuo’s use of the word lever because a lever can not function without a fulcrum, and visa versa. In considering how to practice what masters Chen and Kuo are describing it is necessary to identify the action that causes the lever to utilize the fulcrum for the creation of leverage.

An example of the use of a lever is the placing of a long board under the edge of a large rock that we wish to displace. In order to gain the necessary leverage we must place another smaller rock under the board and as close as possible to the rock we wish to move. The smaller rock is the fulcrum. However, the fulcrum does not operate unless we press down on the other end of the board lifting the end of the board under the rock.

If Chen Pan-ling is saying the heel is the fulcrum, the triggering force to activate the lever is the release of the muscles around the hips which allows our body to sink, create a stretch-rebound in the muscles of the legs which travels back up through the legs, the waist and released through the fingers.

I am very grateful to masters Kuo Lien Ying and Chen Pan-ling for having the consideration and for taking the time to write down their thoughts on these principles to be practiced in our tai chi.

Posted by: hgardiner | August 12, 2008

Research shows how Tai Chi helps seniors prevent falls.

“Program participants showed significant improvements in health-related outcome measures such as balance, reduction in falls, and increased functional independence.”

Senior community centers in Lane County, Oregon successfully adopted an evidence-based Tai Chi program to prevent falls among older adults.  Not quite Sacramento, but more on the health benefits of Tai chi here:

Posted by: hgardiner | July 27, 2008

Senior health benefits from tai chi

From a recent article in the St. Louis Today (, one senior practitioner is seeing personally how tai chi improves her health.

To quote:  “Because tai chi can improve balance, flexibility and well-being, it’s a subject of interest to health professionals.”

Also:  “Other preliminary studies show tai chi exercises can improve insulin resistance, cholesterol levels and cardiovascular health in some patients.”

Read the full article by clicking here.

All the more reason to start thinking about Tai Chi here in Sacramento!  This is from the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

“Tai Chi, a martial art that uses slow movements, has been proven to reduce the risk of falling for many seniors. The movements and philosophy of Tai Chi teach people to relax, slow down, coordinate their mind and body, and improve posture. Studies published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation found that Tai Chi benefits cardiorespiratory function and that increased strength and balance can help prevent falls. The strength and balance that Tai Chi and other exercises build also boost self-confidence. All of these factors combine to make seniors feel stronger and more confident as they move.”

You can view the article in its entirety by clicking here.

Re: Sacramento Magazine,, Sifu Carlan, Tai Chi and its health benefits, and not just for seniors:

Tai Chi:

“Philosophically, in tai chi, all movement originates from a state of stillness,” explains Carlan Steward, 61, a sifu (teacher) who leads seniors-only tai chi classes in hs Carmichael studio. Tai chi comprises a series of movements developed in China, and is performed in the Wu Chi posture (feet shoulder width apart and side-by-side, knees and hips just slightly flexed).

Davis says, “Tai chi is clearly low impact. It’s a very good exercise program—probably one of the most gentle—and probably has the greatest longevity and the best track record of really connecting the mind and the body together, to help with relaxation, flexibility, strength, control and, depending upon the pace at which you do it, even some aerobic fitness.”

Like yoga, tai chi has three main components to help practitioners achieve longevity and better health: holding optimal posture, remaining energetically relaxed, and having a sense of harmony and tranquility. Dropping all tension and achieving suspended breathing, the practitioner moves from a state of relaxed stillness to relaxed movement. “Tai chi can be practiced at so many different levels of exertion and mobility that the person only needs the mental energy to get started and a teacher who can teach them within their limitations,” says Davis.

Steward credits tai chi with helping him recover after a full hip replacement two years ago. “I used tai chi as my method of rehab and a couple of years later have more relaxed coordination and much better balance than before my hip started giving me problems,” he says.

Henry Gardiner, 33, has taken Steward’s tai chi class for a year and a half. He practiced martial arts until he was was sidelined by a major back injury. “I was unable to continue in any martial arts class. I had a sciatic nerve issue (damage), where I couldn’t sit or even sleep comfortably for months, and resorted to Vicodin three times a day just to tolerate being awake.” Tai chi has been a lifesaver for Gardiner. “Without it, I’d be literally dead in the water,” he claims. “It has improved my back’s condition so much that I’ve even returned to the kung fu class.”

Jackie Miller, 63, an adult literacy coordinator for the Sacramento Public Library, has been attending Steward’s seniors-only tai chi class for close to a year. She says, “My balance is much improved, as well as my inner strength and confidence. Tai chi has given me a feeling that I can accomplish what I set out to do. You are as young as you feel, and I feel great.”

Link is here.

Posted by: hgardiner | December 4, 2007

Tai Chi for health and martial arts, here in Carmichael, CA.

American Family Martial Arts offers classes in Original Yang Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and Wing Chun kung-fu. Classes are taught by Carlan Steward, an instructor of martial arts for the last 35 years.

Instructor Steward offers an in-depth knowledge of Kung-fu, Tai Chi and Qi Gong, and continues advancing his knowledge in Tai Chi and Qi Gong under Sifu David Chin. To learn more about the Tai Chi classes, click here.

Push Hands

For students wishing to learn more about kung-fu classes, click here. Sifu Steward encourages martial arts practitioners to further develop their skills, speed and strength with Tai Chi and Qi Gong also.

For more information on Instructor Steward, click here. Feel free to contact him for more information on classes.

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