Tai chi and Qi gong are centuries-old mind and body health practices. They involve certain postures and gentle movements with mental focus, breathing, and relaxation. These movements which emphasize on pressure point alignment and stretching are great for body tuning and can be adapted or practiced while walking, standing, or sitting. Tai chi if executed promptly, can be a form of combat or self-defense.
I have been following Sifu Wong learning Tai chi and Qi gong for almost ten years. I have a doctoral degree in biochemistry and work as a virologist in a training university studying infectious eye diseases. As a research scientist, I am always interested in looking for peer-reviewed research evidence and support for Tai chi and Qi gong. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH; https://nccih.nih.gov/health/taichi), a National Institute of Health (NIH) government agency, Tai chi may improve balance and stability in older people and those with Parkinson’s, reduce pain from knee osteoarthritis, help people cope with fibromyalgia and back pain, and promote quality of life and mood in people with heart failure and cancer. Qi gong is less well studied but it is generally agreed that it also increases the quality of life. Both practices are safe and unlikely to result in serious injury, but NCCIH points out squarely that learning Tai chi or Qi gong from a video or book does not ensure that you’re doing the movements correctly or safely. Since the practices are not regulated by law, finding a right Sifu that suits you from a trusted source is very important.
I have been very lucky to find Sifu Wong as my Sifu. He is very approachable and knowledgeable in Tai chi, Qi gong and martial arts. He teaches by attending to the skill level and body types of students and he is very generous about sharing his insights. One public misconception about Tai chi and Qi gong is that they are separate health systems with Tai chi emphasizing more on external fluidic movements while Qi gong is more about training one’s internal energy. Sifu Wong’s teaching stresses on one of the most important and core principles of Tai chi that its power is actually derived from one’s Qi gong energy. Because the two are interconnected, practicing both mindfully and persistently is the key for skill improvement and to maximize the health benefits they provide. This “real deal” is something that not many schools teach. Our school has a long history of presence in Walnut Creek. It is always a welcoming place for people from all ages and skill levels. Many of the brothers and sisters have been here for years, who also bring along their children and their grandchildren. It is a friendly and collegial atmosphere that helps us all grow and improve.
As a research scientist, making scientific discovery can be exciting and rewarding, but it is often very demanding both physically and mentally. It includes long hours of work. Progress is always just incremental and often interrupted by unexpected setbacks. Competition for funding is fierce and the peer-reviewed process is cut-throat. I am also a father of a kid with special needs. Practicing Tai chi and Qi gong helps maintaining my Zen and focus. It strengthens my physique, empowers me to fight adversity and guides me through self-discipline to be a better teacher and father. It is a life-long journey of self-discovery and improvement that I highly recommend anybody who is interest to pursue.