How the benefits of Tai Chi are perceived in an urban area- An anthropological study.

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Two months ago I received this message from Erika Persson, a student in Medical Anthropology at Amsterdam University College:

“Dear Monica, I am writing to you as you are listed as organizer in the Tai-Chi group here, and I have a question for you. Or rather a request. I am a student of Amsterdam University College who currently studies Medical Anthropology. As a part of the course we are conducting a visual anthropology project in which we are filming a chosen group/practice to answer a research question. Me and my research group are interested in knowing more about how the known health benefits of Tai-Chi are perceived in an urban areas, and to assess this we are looking for a practice that we could join for a meeting, and possible find people who would like to tell us about their experience regarding the activity. As it is a visual anthropology project, the aim is to film the meeting. However this will be done discretely, and not without consent will all practitioners! Please let me know what you think!”

I was very enthusiastic and so were my students. Erika came with two college mates and practiced with us. After the class there was an informal conversation about the benefits of Tai Chi in an urban area like Amsterdam.

Here you can enjoy the nicely edited video that Erika and her mates shot at “Space to be”, the place we meet at every week to practice Tai Chi.

 

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Feeling part of a group

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I  have recently met Giuseppe Paterniti, an Italian Tai Chi and Qi Gong master.
I came across one of his videos when I was surfing on internet, looking for Chen sword’s forms.
The thing that caught my attention the most was that he teaches in the County of Treviso (North Eastern Italy), the one I come from. Second, but not less important, was his mastery in Chen Style.
I could immediately understand that he learned directly from great Chinese teachers.
As soon as I saw his video I felt the urge to contact him and arrange a lesson, in order to resume the practice of a Chen sword form that I have been studying for almost two years with my Master Luo Liuqing, in Tokyo.
I got in touch with Giuseppe and went to Italy for a week during which I worked with him and achieved also a certification for teaching Tai Chi Chen and Qi Gong to kids (Chen Shin Kung Fu).

I found out that he stayed for long periods of time at the Chen Jiagou village in Henan province where Chen style is supposed to be born. Giuseppe taught me all the sets of exercises that kids, boys and girls learn when they first start practicing Kung Fu. He is a natural teacher, very generous and patient.
I am planning to teach this program at ISA (International School of Amsterdam), attended by my son Pietro.

Giuseppe invited me to join the alliance of TaiCh and Qi Gong schools he created, called AMHA ( Alliance for Martial and Healing Arts, http://www.amha.info).
I am currently curating the English version of the website.
The aims of the alliance sounded very inspiring to me and I can say that now I feel part of a group.

Please, enjoy the video of Master Giuseppe Paterniti.

Yang Style, 32 Sword Form

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I performed this form in Creta (Greece), last June.
I had some difficulties because of the uneven grass, some hesitations you can detect but I did my best. A good practice encompasses also “non-flat” ground and I had to take the risk!
I did not edit the video because I wanted it to be watched in its original version.
A natural soundtrack (cicadas) can be heard. It has also a natural “signature”: a white, cute butterfly that appears at the very end of the form.
I credit my daughter Virginia for shooting the video.

Xingi PaQua

I found this video on the web few years ago and I was stunned by the skills of this master.

I have been practicing Xingi PaQua since i moved to Amsterdam, with Master Tang Wei from Nanjin. He is over 80, but still very healthy and teaching with passion! Xingi , together with Tai Chi and PaQua, is a very ancient Chinese internal martial art.

Xingi PaQua is a very effective combination of the two above mentioned arts. It requires speed, coordination, balance, flexibility and strength. It is very effective on the brain as well.

Please, enjoy the video!

A new chapter begins

Dear friends,
my apologies for not writing for such a long time…
The cultural clash I have been facing since I moved to Amsterdam kept me from finding fresh, new energy for updating my blog.
I consider myself lucky: once again I met a valuable Master, Amien Ko ( in the photo below).
At the beginning changing to a new teacher can be frustrating but then, little by little, you get used to him/her and start appreciating the change.
Master Ko is very into classic Yang style, even though he is very knowledgeable about competition and standard Tai Chi.
I am currently refining with Master Amien my 32 Taiji Jian (straight sword), Yang style and learning 108 Classic Yang style and 56 Chen style.
I also started teaching to a nice group of Japanese and Indonesian/Chinese ladies: very motivating!
Master Amien Ko and I in Amstelveen (The Netherlands)

A day in Kanagawa Prefecture

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Today I attended a Tai chi competition in Todoroki Arena, Kawasaki, 32 Yang Style straight sword.
I was scheduled around 10:00 but I actually I performed around 12:00. Those two hours were very stressful, I kept warming up, sweating, cooling down and warming up again, repeating the cycle for several times, in order to be ready for the performance.
I got a very high score (8.67) with a penalty of 0.2, because my performance lasted few seconds beyond the regular time (time over!).
Something really strange occurred to me: I don’t recall the central third of my performance, as if I were somewhere else, in a different dimension. I flew away…
And when my consciousness came back into my body I was finishing the form and I had the awful feeling I forgot to do some parts of it. But then I saw my other two mates doing the same moves and I felt somehow relieved…

Today was the last time I performed as a member of Kanagawa Bujutsu Tai Kyo Kae because in few weeks I will leave for Amsterdam. It had been my “Sayonara” to Tai Chi and to Tai Chi mates in Japan.

I am still fascinated by the passion and dedication of all people I was with today, especially elder people.
This gives me plenty of hope about my future as a Tai Chi lover and student: you can practice until you are 80!

My teachers, Ra Kyo and Liu Sei sensei, closed the event performing Kung Fu and Chen style Tai Chi, respectively. Just amazing!

From left to right: Ra Kyo sensei, me and Liu Sei sensei at Todoroki Arena, Kawasaki, June the 7th, 2014

From left to right: Ra Kyo sensei, me and Liu Sei sensei at Todoroki Arena, Kawasaki, June the 7th, 2014