The Amazing Health Benefits of Turmeric Tea

I’m a victim of the ‘Coffee Culture”. Back in college, my hang-out was the local coffee shop and coffee kept me going for many late night study sessions. After graduation, I worked a night shift for a stretch and coffee was a constant companion.

My coffee consumption had highs and lows, but at its worst I’d drink 7 to 8 cups a day. I’d developed a sort of addiction to caffeine.

A couple of years ago, I got tired of the energy highs and lows that caffeine brought and quit drinking coffee and caffeinated drinks for good. Once past the ‘hangover’ phase, I noticed that my energy levels stayed stable throughout the day and I didn’t need a shot to wake me up in the morning.

Still, there were times that I wanted a mug of something warm and soothing to drink in the morning. I didn’t want the jitters to plague me all day; just a relaxing beverage that I could sip while reading the morning newspaper. That’s when I discovered Turmeric tea.

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Exploring the Myth of T’ai Chi: T’ai Chi isn’t Useful for Self Defense

Karate, Kung Fu, Ju Jitsu, Krav Maga, Boxing, MMA… all of these arts are known for their excellent self defense techniques. T’ai Chi, on the other hand, just doesn’t have the same reputation. To the average observer, it’s just too slow, too gentle, and not nearly aggressive enough to be a viable method of combat.

On top of that, many modern instructors only teach T’ai Chi for health benefits, leaving very few examples of combat applications available to the public. It’s no wonder that among non-practicioners, there’s a sense that T’ai Chi isn’t very good for self defense.

To many out there, T’ai Chi combat might look something like this…

So, how can we begin to dispel this myth? What practical application can T’ai Chi bring to martial training?

In order to explore this myth, we have to consider the ways T’ai Chi takes a unique view on self defense training.

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Exploring the Myth of T’ai Chi: T’ai Chi People are Like Zen Masters or Something

One piece of folklore that most T’ai Chi practitioners relish is the notion of the wise, zen-like Master, who is always in command of his or her emotions. A Master who always lives in the present and has deep philosophical insight into the problems that afflict everyday people. This Master wanders through life like the fictional monk, Kwai Chang Caine, played by David Carradine in the 70’s  TV show, Kung Fu.

Caine is the mythical ‘Zen-Master’ uses martial arts skills to fight off the  bad guys and help others, while maintaining a calm, serene presence at all times.

If you practice T’ai Chi long enough, the myth goes, You too will achieve this kind of enlightened temperament. T’ai Chi practice will make you calm in the most stressful situations. You’ll be able to serenely defeat the bad guys without ever losing your cool or letting your emotions get the best of you.

As much as we all wish this myth was true, unfortunately, it’s not. T’ai Chi people also get upset about silly things, we have arguments, and we feel stress just like everyone else. T’ai Chi practice doesn’t give us any super powers and it doesn’t make us immune to emotional problems or frustrations.

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Exploring the Myth of T’ai Chi: T’ai Chi is Just Like Yoga

We’ve been looking at some of the myths and realities behind the practice of Tai Chi. These aren’t myths about fantastic abilities or feats of power that you sometimes read about in old legends. Instead, we’re exploring the everyday myths that are generally accepted without much thought.

It’s easy to dismiss wild claims of a T’ai Chi masters who seems to have psychic abilities or can use their Chi-Power to perform outrageous stunts. What’s difficult to confront is the common beliefs that are brought about from books, movies, magazines, and the everyday media. These are the notions that need to be challenged in order to gain greater understanding and appreciation of our art.

One myth that can be really amusing to any serious practitioner is the belief that ‘T’ai Chi is just like Yoga.’ While it’s painfully obvious to anyone who trains in either art, that these two practices are uniquely different, it’s worth exploring this myth in order to understand why outsiders might be confused and to gain some insight into our own practice.

When I tell most people that I practice T’ai Chi, I usually just get a blank stare. But, sometimes they’ll say, “T’ai Chi? Isn’t that just like Yoga?”

In popular culture, these two arts are often confused, mostly because they both practice mindfulness. Although their approach to meditation can be quite different, they share some similarities that causes them to be lumped together by those who don’t understand the difference.

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Exploring the Myth of T’ai Chi: T’ai Chi is Only for the Elderly or those in Ill Health

There’s always a little bit of truth behind every myth, but you rarely get the full story. Sometimes the myth is born out of the exaggerated retelling of a story or a memory. Sometimes they come from misunderstood stereotypes, started by people who never really had a grasp of the subject in the first place.

The art of T’ai Chi is filthy with these kinds of myth. Some are the result of grandiose imaginations, others are worn out cliches spread through the media and pop culture. For those of us that really want to understand this art, we have to look past those legends in order to explore the truth of T’ai Chi.

A few of these myths have been passed around for so long and been so pervasive in our culture that even regular T’ai Chi practitioners might fail to question their authority. We owe it to ourselves to understand and challenge these myths, so that our own training isn’t tainted by the opinion of others, who might not really get what it means to do T’ai Chi.

We’re going to start a series of posts that uncover and explore these myths. To find out how they started and to challenge them in order to improve our own understanding of the art.

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Thich Nhat Hanh & T’ai Chi: The Mindful Dichotomy

Inspirational quotes are a great source to help us stay motivated to practice. The best quotes are the ones that act as gentle reminders for the principles of breathing, movement, and keeping a mindful attitude while training.

On the subject of T’ai Chi, one author who really seems to speak to me is Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk and Peace Activist who has written extensively about the philosophy, practice, and art of Mindful Meditation. It’s a bit odd that I choose Thich Nhat Hanh for T’ai Chi inspiration because his personal philosophy admonishes any kind of violence, either in thought or action. It’s doubtful that he would advocate the practice of a martial art in relation to any of his teachings.

Thich Nhat Hanh was born in Central Vietnam in 1926. As a young Buddhist Monk, he was confronted by the war that engulfed his country during the l960’s. He opposed the war and traveled the throughout the world, calling for peace and exchanging ideas with writers, scholars, and the activists of the time.

He met with the Civil Rights Leader, Dr. Martin Luther King and discussed the ways non-violent action could be used to change political thought and oppose injustice in the world.

He eventually led the Buddhist delegation at the Paris Peace talks in 1969 in the hopes of ending the hostilities in his Homeland.

After the war, Thich Nhat Hanh continued to travel and teach, opening monasteries and meditation communities so that he could spread his message of peace. He has written well over 100 books and articles on meditation, mindfulness, and Buddhist practices. He continues to be a voice for political and environmental injustice, as well as a Spiritual Leader in the Mindfulness Movement.

While age and an unfortunate stroke in 2014 prevent him from traveling and speaking, Thich Nhat Hanh continues to practice mindful meditation at his Plum Village communityy in France.

It’s difficult to reconcile the non-violence philosophy of Thich Nhat Hanh with the martial aspects of T’ai Chi; However, both adhere to a mindful approach and a reflective awareness that is difficult to ignore.

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T’ai Chi for Couch Potatos: Getting the T’ai Chi Experience in Front of a Television Screen

Ah, the perfect escape, when you feel relaxed and worry free. Everything is so soft and soothing as you gently forget your problems of the day and just settle into a carefree state of mind. You can simply accept everything that forms on the blank canvas before you and rest.

Another example of the T’ai Chi experience? Well, not really.

In this case, I’m describing what it feels like to watch Bob Ross painting his creations during his television shows The Joy of Painting and Beauty is Everywhere.

The long running Joy of Painting which was shown on PBS from 1983 to 1994 is now available on Youtube.com, while his second series, Beauty is Everywhere filmed in 1991 is now available at Netflix.com. (Bob Ross and Chill???)

 

Ross is a fantastic painter who demonstrated his art weekly for his loyal audience. He was known for his wildly permed hair and Bohemian fashions, but mostly for his upbeat, calm demeanor as he swiftly painted the beautiful landscapes featured on his show. He would shift colors around the canvas, mixing shapes and textures as he happily gave tips and hints to those interested in his craft.

Most people who watched him would never pick up a brush, but instead would watch all the same to experience the joy of this artist at work. He was also known for his light hearted and witty comments  that seemed to come almost from his stream of conscious as he worked.

We don’t make mistakes, we make happy accidents,” he’s known to explain. And another fun little quip while painting, “He’s a crooked little tree, we’ll send him to Washington!

Bob Ross’s approach to painting could have easily come from a talented T’ai Chi instructor. He brought his impressions through the TV screen and into our homes, even into our hearts. Television, unfortunately, rarely has such a positive effect on our spirits, though we’re rarely aware of the influence it can have on us.

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Thirteen Reasons MMA Fighters Need to Crosstrain in T’ai Chi

Mixed Martial Artists are always looking for a competitive edge. They’re constantly checking out the latest in sport nutrition and the first to explore a new workout or training routine. They need to be on top of all the trends in order to stay competitive in their sport.

Like its name implies, Mixed Martial Arts was founded on the idea of taking skills and training methods from all the fighting sciences and then combining them to create the best sport-combat strategy possible. They carefully select the most proven methods and use them in order to prepare themselves for the ring.

However, there’s one training method that seems to have been overlooked. -Or at least no one’s been willing to talk about it… until now!

I discovered this ‘secret method’ years ago while I was preparing to enter the ring for a kickboxing match.

My previous fight hadn’t gone very well and I was really tight and nervous. Before the fight, one of my trainers, Jerry Cheng, took me to an open room and led me through some T’ai Chi exercises that his father had taught him. He had me start by slowly circling my neck and shoulders, then proceeded with a routine that worked its way down my body; gently moving my arms, torso, hips, knees, ankles and feet until every muscle was stretched and warmed up. Even better, my mind began to relax and I was able to focus on the fight ahead.

I fought very well that night, easily winning by TKO in the second round. I felt loose, aware, and relaxed the entire time. To this day, I still credit T’ai Chi with helping me win that fight.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “T’ai Chi? You mean that slow-motion thing that old people do in the park on Saturday afternoons? How could that possibly help me in the ring?”

Well, here’s the deal, I know MMA looks a lot different than T’ai Chi. You have to hit really hard and really fast, while T’ai Chi moves softly and slowly. I know you practice grappling skill on the ground (Sometimes for hours on end), while T’ai Chi is all about standing and rooting in place. (So, it’s not the actual techniques but the training methods that make T’ai Chi so valuable to fighters.)

I’m not going to tell you that T’ai Chi can replace any of the bagwork, focus pads, or sparring that you currently do, but I can tell you that T’ai Chi can bring incredible benefits to your training. It’s the perfect supplement workout for anyone who’s serious about MMA competition and it’s benefits are something you just can’t afford to ignore.

Here are my thirteen top reasons why you NEED to crosstrain in T’ai Chi if you’re a competitive fighter…

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Book Review: ChiRunning by Danny Dreyer… Why It’s One of My Favorite T’ai Chi Books

A while back, I was doing some pretty intense HIIT training and quite a bit of running during my morning routine. I was working on building my aerobic endurance for kickboxing.

After about 12 weeks of this type of training, I noticed that the heels of my feet would really hurt when I woke up, first thing in the morning. The pain continued as time went on and eventually it got to the point where it became hard to exercise or even walk.

I ended up seeing a podiatrist, who quickly diagnosed me with plantar fasciitis, a foot injury common among runners that happens when the tendon leading under the foot becomes inflamed and painful. The Doctor prescribed some pain meds, a pair of foot inserts, and a special brace for me to wear at night.

I was okay with his treatment until he told me that I wouldn’t be able to run anymore.

Now, I’ve never been a really competitive runner, but it’s always been a part of my exercise routine to run a few miles as a warm up and also to clear my mind for training. I’d been running since Middle School and it just didn’t feel right to give it up.

I started searching the internet for ways to deal with this injury and found a group of barefoot runners. These are people who run without shoes and rely on special running techniques to protect their feet from injury. Without shoes, they are compelled to run very deliberately, making sure that only the proper areas of their feet come in contact with the ground.

After giving my feet some time to heal, I began to try the barefoot running technique and quickly became hooked: I found that without shoes, I could learn to run more naturally and with greater awareness.

I started slowly, running first on grass before eventually building up to pavement. As I improved, I continued to search for and practice everything I could find on natural running techniques.  That’s when I discovered the book that changed everything for me; Danny Dreyer’s ChiRunning.

(Now, I need to mention that Chi Running IS NOT about running barefoot. Danny Dreyer recommends his techniques are practiced in  proper running shoes. –Now, I still like to run barefoot because it feels very natural and forces me to stay honest to the technique.)

Danny Dreyer’s insights into both running and T’ai Chi are actually quite amazing…

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