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Canadian Tai Chi Academy
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    Lok Hup Workshop - Duncan BC, April 20-21, 2024
    Posted May 1, 2024
The Duncan/Chemainus Branch was delighted to host a Western Regional Workshop in Duncan. Senior instructors David Carson, Doug Overholt, and Susan Carson, guided over seventy participants (from Vancouver Island, the mainland, the Sunshine Coast, BC's interior and the UK) through a practical analysis of key principles that apply to every move in the set:
  • standing
  • sitting
  • turning
  • stretching
"If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime."

After each principle was presented, all three instructors circulated the room so the teaching unfolded attentively, ensuring that individual questions were answered. Following the principles enables practitioners to self-correct, analyze a move, figure out why it doesn't feel right, and then make the move feel great!!

The team emphasized that if the form starts to break down - for example, leaning over in a donyu or losing balance in a Brush Knee - take a break, adjust, and try again. Five good donyus are better than fifteen bad ones.

Knowing what questions to ask means quicker corrections. And applying the principles means less frustration and faster progress. Where are my feet? Where am I looking? Where is my weight? Am I turning the body and arms together so that everything finishes at the same time? Am I standing all the way up? Am I sitting down and then stepping?

Applying the principles means less frustration and faster progress as their use helps you to understand how to make adjustments to suit your body.

For example, using a balance step to facilitate the sit is good practice because skipping any part of the move means less benefit. A subtle adjustment in attention is often all that is needed. The Brush Knees, Doug mentioned, is one of the most difficult in the set, yet this move provides the most health benefits. Adjust, question, try again, then add a dollop of the best Tai Chi ingredient: patience.

Meet on the trail for some Brush Knee practice, anyone? Mr. Moy once said that he would practice Brush Knees outdoors for miles.

Another great way to practice these principles is the push hands or sticky hands exercise with a partner. You can help your partner to sit and turn and stand and stretch while staying connected. We turned the room into two giant circles and were able to practice the move with a variety of partners. David, Doug and Susan left the enthusiastic group wanting more. Participants are already asking about plans for a future workshop.

Three Treasures:
David, Susan and Doug!!!

The Duncan/Chemainus Branch thanks everyone for their incredible commitment to making the weekend such a success.

     Cindy Scott

    Tai Chi Workshop - Arnprior ON, April 20, 2024
    Posted May 1, 2024
On Saturday April 20, Arnprior hosted a general CTCA tai chi workshop. Tom Daly and Valerie Way-Nee from Peterborough led the event which began at 1pm and ended at 5pm. We were expecting around 35 participants and so were very happy that 58 enthusiastic tai chi-ers arrived to help make this day a success.

A breakdown of the number of participants by location shows: Arnprior 21 (including 6 beginners 2-3 months practice), Perth 10, Carleton Place 6, Orleans 6, Ottawa (non-members) 6, Sharbot Lake 2, St. Catherine QC 2, Peterborough 2, St. Jean Sur Richelieu QC 1, Smiths Falls 1, Kingston 1, Cobourg 1.

If there was one theme to the workshop, how to change our tai chi from an external form to a more beneficial, connected and internal form seemed to be it. We looked closely at the toryu, with the leaders demonstrating what an external form looked like compared to a more internal form, and then showing us what we should look for and 'feel' for, to improve. We practiced standing up and lengthening the spine, and finding balance and stillness before the set even begins. We looked at the spiral down into the back 'sit' on Single Whip and Brush Knee. We practiced improving the circulation and connectedness in the first standing jong (turn forearms and hands) and we practiced the standing jong stillness postures. Tom shared stories of his time as a student of Mr. Moy, giving us a sense of what it was like to learn from someone so dedicated to preserving and improving the art.

After the workshop sixteen of us went out for a wonderful meal, where the energy, the stories and the fun continued.

Our thanks to the CTCA and to Tom and Valerie for their generosity in answering our many questions and their ongoing encouragement to us all. We are really hoping you will send this dynamic duo back here soon!

     Bill Ogilvie

    Lok Hup Workshop - Gibsons BC, April 20-21, 2024
    Posted May 1, 2024
On April 16 we completed our second Lok Hup workshop led by Doug Overholt and Susan Carson at the Gibsons Legion in Gibsons BC. This was the second part of our Lok Hup offering, the first being held on January 20, and it was a little smoother operation than the first. When we arrived early for the first workshop the hall hadn't been cleaned up after a 50th birthday celebration the night before. It must have had a cowboy theme, because there was straw everywhere that had to be cleaned up before we could start...we even almost started on time.

At our first workshop we divided folks into two groups, those with no Lok Hup experience and those with some experience and both groups dove in from the beginning of the set. The second workshop followed the same format and we made it to the end of the first half. Doug's focus on the deeper principles behind the moves with the more advanced group helped develop their understanding not just of Lok Hup but of their overall Tai Chi as well. Susan worked the beginner Lok Hup group who were extremely keen on repeating moves many times before moving on. There is much to be said for working a few moves deeply rather than skimming on to supposedly cover more ground.

We had a very positive and enthusiastic response from the groups from both workshops and we look forward to welcoming Doug and Susan back to learn the second half of the Lok Hup set.

     David Carson

    Atlantic Road Trip, February 27 - March 2, 2024
    Posted May 1, 2024
Monday - Sherri Nettleton and I (Doug Nettleton) met with the instructors in Berwick NS. It was a great opportunity for me to meet some of the members who have been attending my various Zoom meetings since the start of Covid. Sheila and Gary hosted a small get together after the practice. I had some interesting discussions with Steve and Andrew, two of the movers and shakers in the group. Everyone was very enthusiastic and we had a great practice.

Tuesday - We attended an extended regular class in Kentville NS, followed by a couple of hours in a local pub. This group was mainly composed of the students and instructors from the Monday session. I was happy to see "normal" tai chi and attributed it to the quality and enthusiasm of the very cohesive instructor group. There were between 35 and 42 participants.

Wednesday - In Bridgewater NS, we attended a general South Nova class. As we drove there, I asked Sherri if she knew how many we were expecting. She didn't know but guessed about 20. We were pleasantly surprised to find 31 when we got there. The time just flew by. They all seemed to enjoy the practice.

The planned activity for Thursday was cancelled due to weather. Apparently, if the region closes the schools, the tai chi class is cancelled.

Saturday - In Amherst NS we had an all day workshop. 9:00 - 2:00 was a general workshop with a catered lunch of soup, sandwiches and cake. This gave us a chance to socialize and get to know some of the group. After a short break at 2:00 there was an instructor focused session until 4:00. In this segment we spent time working with partners to experience more of how the moves "work". There were 38 participants. This group was the most geographically diverse.

Across the various activity sessions, Sherri and I probably interacted with a little over 100 members. I'm not sure how many will attend the May workshop in Kentville NS, but it seems a lot of them are looking forward to it. There were three particularly keen participants who attended the Monday, Tuesday and Saturday events.

     Doug Nettleton

    Lok Hup Workshop - Richmond Hill ON, February 19-21, 2024
    Posted May 1, 2024
I would like to thank Mehrab Khan, Doug Nettleton and My Huynh for facilitating the Lok Hup Workshop. The workshop, timing/pacing was appropriate for new students as well as those who have been practicing Lok Hup for some time. Instructors provided detailed explanations and related the stories behind the moves.

Mehrab and Doug's work with My and Anne Marie Estrada on sequences of moves provided students with the ability to understand how to transition through each move. In addition, it was good to see the facilitators working through different versions of a move, without ego, willing to try, and see how it feels. It reinforced that we need to be open to other versions. I also appreciated the discussion relating the Lok Hup moves to the tai chi, sword and sabre sets.

Specifically for myself, Mehrab worked with me on the first 17 moves of the Tai Chi Set. Mehrab placed his fingers on each side of my clavicle while I was demonstrating the moves; he also asked me to relax my sternum. What I experienced from this correction was that the upper vertebrae in the back of my neck expanded, and I felt taller. My posture immediately improved and my lower back relaxed significantly; I felt more solid in my feet. At the same time when relaxing the sternum, I felt a dropping down to my belly - an internal relaxation.

I was instructed to find that feeling in all the moves. It was quite profound...I am still working on it. He also held my wrists up during Appear to Close Entrance; as my hands stayed raised, I dropped away from my hands significantly lower that I previously did. I could feel my belly dropping and my waist expanding at the back; but what was more significant was the internal "falling through" inside. I felt very 'centered' and connected...hands, feet, spine...it is difficult to verbalize. I was instructed to find this feeling in all of the Tai Chi moves as well as in Lok Hup.

I came away from the workshop with the above corrections and a few others. I also was sitting more, was turning from the spine, had more roundedness, and was more connected to the flow of each move while practicing Lok Hup.

I look forward to hopefully be able to attend future Lok Hup workshops and continue to receive corrections.

     Laurie Zaleschuk

The Richmond Hill organizing committee outdid themselves orchestrating the Lok Hup workshop led by Mehrab Khan. Students came from across the Canadian Tai Chi Academy.

Mehrab has a unique ability to communicate his understanding of how we can relax, stretch and turn to explore our end ranges. Under his guidance, we explored the art of easing the heart and allowing the hands to direct the spine's motion. This balance between relaxing and stretching when applied to Lok Hup elevated our practice to unprecedented heights.

A pivotal moment for many was the integration of Lok Hup principles into our Tai Chi set. We were able to feel a practice not forced but fluid, granting us the space to alleviate tension and rigidity.

Beyond the formal training, the workshop offered an opportunity play sword, sabre, and push hands. These sessions, held before classes and during lunch breaks, were a welcome contrast to our usual remote learning experiences.

The camaraderie of our Tai Chi community shone brightly throughout the event. The efforts of My Huynh, Mehrab's family and the Richmond Hill organizing committee ensured that these moments were well-catered, with a spread of delectable snacks and lunches prepared behind the scenes. The social highlight was undoubtedly the optional dinners, culminating in a festive New Year's banquet at My Wonderful Kitchen.

     Leonard Adams