Tai Chi teacher in China

I came to China in 2008 to study Kung Fu. I was practicing Kung Fu in Belgium and came to China for the first time in 2007 to travel through the country of this beautiful martial art! I visited tourist places, like Yangshuo, Xi’an and Beijing and also went to Shaolin to see some real Shaolin Kung Fu. When I was in Yangshuo, I met a Kung Fu teacher who had a beautiful family style, BuDiZhen, a mix of Shaolin and Wudang Kung Fu.

 

I decided to live in Yangshuo for 1 year, study Kung Fu and then I thought of moving back to Belgium. Little did I know back then that my life would never be the same again…
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I stayed in Yangshuo and learned from my Kung Fu teacher for 2 years. I had some money saved, so I was an English teacher just part-time and I focused on learning a lot of Kung Fu.

But, after 2 years, I started to hear more about Tai Chi and how it helps you to cultivate your internal energy. I was intrigued by it and finally found a good teacher to teach me Chen Tai Chi.

From 2010, I started to practice Tai Chi. I loved the slow graceful movements, but also the martial aspect of it. Every movement represents a self-defense technique and it is actually hard work. I practiced really hard and went to a couple of competitions: in 2013, I went to Henan, Jiaozuo, the birthplace of Tai Chi to participate in an International competition and I got a gold medal and silver medal. The year after, I went to the World Championship, but didn’t get a medal there.

 

In 2015, I moved to Shenzhen and I started to teach Tai Chi to expats that I met here. I never thought I could be a Tai Chi teacher in China and I didn’t profile myself like that at first. Some people wanted to know a bit more about Tai Chi and because I could speak English, they asked me to teach them. Little by little, I started to be known as the ‘Tai Chi master’ and more people were texting me to know my teaching schedule.

 

I am teaching almost every month now and am having more and more students. I am thinking of a whole project to teach Tai Chi as a whole lifestyle: the movements, the history and the philosophy.

 

When I tell Chinese people that I teach Tai Chi, the first reaction is almost always: but you are not old! Apparently, for Chinese people you have to be old to practice Tai Chi. I always answer: “it’s because I don’t want to become old that I practice.” Because Tai Chi helps to balance your body and mind, makes your body stronger, you will not become old that fast.

 

I find it a shame that Chinese people don’t want to practice Tai Chi anymore. The new generation is not putting much value on it. I heard that in my country it is becoming very popular. The West is discovering ancient Chinese philosophy: Chinese medicine, Chinese arts and Chinese martial arts are all becoming very popular. But, in China they are becoming less and less popular. Do we, Westerners, in the future will have to teach the Chinese about their traditional culture?

 

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Tai Chi for everyone

I came to China to practice Kung Fu and Tai Chi. I still practice Tai Chi. It’s such a big part of my life, so I want to share some of my personal experience about it.

More and more research is showing how Tai Chi can help you to stay healthy or to help older people to maintain balance, a normal blood pressure, a healthy heart and much more.

In fact, most people still see Tai Chi as something for old people. Even in China, most people forgot about the benefits and the ancient art of Tai Chi and see it just as exercise for the old to keep fit, a bit like aerobics for the elderly.

Nothing can be more from the truth. Tai Chi is more than that, as I will tell you from my personal experience.

When I was younger, I was already interested in martial arts, so I practiced judo and karate, but just as a recreational sports, not for competitions. So, I only practiced twice a week. I was sometimes into running, but was never good at it (2 or 3 km, at most 5km, and I was as red as a tomato and was panting for the next hour).

I loved exercise and I went to the gym frequently, but now I realize that I was never pushing myself. I was never trying to improve much. I just went along with the coach, e.g. during a spinning class, or was just trying to lift heavier weights, but never enough to improve my fitness level.

Until now, I didn’t realize what I was doing. I thought I worked on my health and that I was fit enough. Little did I know.

I hang out with people now who are into mountaineering, marathons and ultraruns. Compared to them, I am in really bad shape. But, I am also amazed at my current fitness level. I can’t run a marathon, but the girl who could only run 2 or 3 km, can all of a sudden run 16km without much preparation. Rock climbing? Ok, I’ll try and to my surprise I can finish routes that are a bit above IMG_20150531_063721beginner level (with pushing myself hard and people shouting encouragement from 20m down, yes, it’s also about overcoming a fear of heights).

How come that I can run 16km in 33 degrees celsius, while my more than 10 years younger self was panting at 3km in a colder climate?

The answer I got after reading some books and after some self-evaluation, is because of my Tai Chi.

Tai Chi gives you good balance, so I will put my feet and my body in a good way, which will make me less prone to injuries. The most important change is my breath. Tai Chi teaches you to breathe deeply and properly, the abdominal breathing. This way of breathing gives me more oxygen, which gives me more endurance. Tai Chi is a fully integrated system: the different movements let all your muscles work and because you practice them in a soft flowing way, you are more aware of what is going on in your body. If you put a foot or other body part in a different position, you will be more aware of it and you will adjust it faster. Another important feature is that it gives you a better posture, so my back is straight all the time. Every time when I curve my back or I slouch a bit, my body will correct itself immediately. This is important for running, but also in our every day life. As we are spending more time behind the computer or on the couch, a good posture is inevitable to stay healthy and fit into old age.

So, Tai Chi gives you a lot of advantages and not only when you are old, you can benefit from it at any age. That said, Tai Chi is no miracle cure too. You should always listen to your body and give your body enough rest after you do strenuous exercise like running. But, as Tai Chi will teach you, be aware of what is going on in your body and you will know when to stop or when to take a rest for some days.

I invite everyone to try some Tai Chi classes and feel the difference yourself.

Exclusive Tai Ji retreat in Bali!!!

I will organize a Chen Tai Ji retreat in Bali from 18 May 2015 till 25 May 2015. This is mainly for beginners to give them some immersion in the world of Tai Ji and Qi Gong in a beautiful setting. So, they will be able to concentrate on Tai Ji during these 7 days, ask questions and practice by themselves. Places are limited! Please help me spread the word. If it’s popular, I will do this more often and invite more teachers – guest speakers to contribute.

This is the program:
18 May: welcome dinner

19 May: morning: 1 hour Qi Gong; breakfast; 2 hours Tai Ji – lunch
afternoon: 2 hours Tai Ji
evening: 15 minutes meditation + question round and share experiences

20 May: morning: 1 hour Qi Gong; breakfast; 2 hours Tai Ji – lunch
afternoon: 2 hours Tai Ji
evening: 15 minutes meditation + question round and share experiences

21 May: morning: 1 hour Qi Gong; breakfast; 2 hours Tai Ji – lunch
afternoon: guest speaker (someone who has been living many years in China, learned
Tai Ji, Qi Gong, acupuncture, Chinese medicine will give a lecture
evening: Balinese evening with dance and buffet

22 May: morning: 1 hour Qi Gong; breakfast; 2 hours Tai Ji – lunch
afternoon: 2 hours Tai Ji
evening: 15 minutes meditation + question round and share experiences

23 May: morning: 1 hour Qi Gong; breakfast; 2 hours Tai Ji – lunch
afternoon: free afternoon to do your own training or go into town and explore Ubud
evening: 15 minutes meditation + question round and share experiences

24 May: morning: 1 hour Qi Gong; breakfast; 2 hours Tai Ji – lunch
afternoon: 2 hours Tai Ji
evening: 15 minutes meditation + question round and share experiences

25 May: morning: 1 hour Qi Gong; breakfast; 2 hours Tai Ji – lunch
afternoon: last 2 hours of training
evening: free

The total cost is 1000 EUR, included a room in a very nice resort in Ubud, Bali, breakfast and lunch included, 1 welcome dinner, 1 Balinese evening, 1 spa treatment, guest speaker and all lessons + video of the form you learned.

If you or any people you know are interested, send me an email at: healthy-body-mind@outlook.com

Getting ready for the competition

24 October is the World Championship Competition of Tai Chi here in China. And, I am selected in the Belgian team to compete with the Chen Tai Chi form. I am very happy and feel privileged to be able to join such a big competition!!

But, with it comes hard training… I am in Huizhou now, to learn from a different Tai Chi master. I am here 1 week now and have progressed a lot. My first training, she told me that I can’t possibly join the competition, that my Tai Chi is really bad (thanks for the heads up :P). Anyway, that didn’t put me down, because she really has a high level in Tai Chi and I already consider myself a winner just by being able to learn from her and this all in the Chinese language (which sometimes gives a lot of miscommunication as well).

1 week with practicing for more than 4 hours every day and she has given me a lot of exercises to work on, my body is getting stronger, but I am also getting tired, all my joints hurt like hell and I think I pulled a tendon in my hip. But, I am not giving up. I am counting on Chinese medicine to do a little bit of magic. Only 1 more week to get ready and my master is happy about my progress. She told me that I learn fast, which makes me want to try my best more and not to let her down.

I now have decided to look for a job here next year and learn more from her. She is amazing! And I am glad I found a Tai Chi master who wants to teach me thoroughly (for foreigners it’s difficult to find someone like that, because they don’t put a lot of effort in teaching foreigners properly. Most Tai Chi schools have become very commercialized, unfortunately).

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The square where I practice Tai Chi every morning and evening.

Huizhou is a beautiful city as well, very clean, not so polluted as other Chinese cities and I am staying with a lovely couchsurfer, who gives me more local information.
From here, I can work on my new business idea as well: teach Tai Chi and give workshops. Huizhou is near Shenzhen and Hong Kong, which gives me a chance to go to companies and give workshops as a form of team-building, and work together with travel agencies to teach Western tourists as well. I want Tai Chi to become more popular in the world and want more people to know what it’s all about. A girl may dream, no?

How about you? What dream do you want to fulfill? Did you put your heart and soul in something you are passionate about?

Who suffers from stress? This is the cure for it!

Do you have stress? Here is a way to get rid of it!

According to recent studies 77% of all people have stress and stress-related symptoms. Some of those more important symptoms are:

  • Fatigue (51%)
  • Irritability or anger (50%)
  • Headache (44%)
  • Feeling nervous (45%)
  • Lack of energy (45%)
  • Upset stomach (34%)
  • And the list goes on…
What if I could help you in an easy way to get rid of all these symptoms and give you a feeling of satisfaction and success?
You don’t need to do a lot of effort to achieve all you want in your life. With minor changes you can have:

  • Better balance
  • Reduction in blood pressure
  • Improved sleep
  • High level of health
  • High life satisfaction
  • Positive affect and well-being
  • And much more…
Check my indiegogo project: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/who-suffers-from-stress-this-is-the-cure-for-it/x/6746087
With a little funding, I help you to get rid of most symptoms through skype sessions. If you want more advanced help, I can come to you and give a workshop.
Go and do it now for a better, fulfilling life, because you are worth it!!

Starting as Health Coach

A healthy attitude is contagious but don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier.

I have decided to do my life’s work as a job. I have always been interested in health: did several health courses, am reading a lot of books about it, did a Teacher Training course of yoga in Rishikesh, India and studied kung fu and tai chi in China.

I think it’s time to reconsider my life and do something with the knowledge I gained. I want to teach people what is good for them and I love the ancient Eastern philosophies. We can learn so much from them and we learn to move and think about our body in a totally different way.

I am amazed by the benefits I had with eating and moving in a healthy way: I got rid of my allergies, I am almost never sick anymore (before I had a cold or the flu at least a couple of times every year) and I am more flexible and my body is more balanced (I feel I move in a different, more grounded way). It would be so nice to let people see the benefits it can have for them for themselves.

Later this year I will start with a website where people can book for online advice or for a private session. My lesson plans for yoga and tai chi will also be on it. People could book me for a workshop near their place if it’s doable for me.

I will keep this blog updated about all the changes…

Out of Nothingness came Everything – From Wu Ji to Tai Ji

“In the beginning was Nothingness, Out of Nothingness came a random thought. A thought caused a movement within the stillness that generated infinite ripples, Movement gave rise to Qi, vital breath. Breath congealed into the five elements – metal, water, wood, earth, fire – symbolic of matter. Then this chaos became organized by Yin and Yang. Breathing knew inhalation and exhalation, the universe was ordered according to duality; for only in the interaction and tension between polar opposites could movement and evolution arise.”

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This is the beginning of Tai Ji (or in Western spelling Tai Chi). With our Western mind it is hard to understand the concept of Nothingness, Everything, duality and Qi. Why should everything in the world be understood in terms of duality? What does Qi mean?
Tai Ji is more than just some health exercises or a martial art. It’s a whole philosophy, a totally different way of thinking. Once you start doing Tai Ji you start at the tip of the iceberg, but there is a huge mountain hidden underneath it. A mountain that is not easy to climb down. Most of it stays hidden, or is so difficult to understand with our Western mind.

The focus of Tai Ji is not on your hands or legs, it’s on your hips and Dantian. Dantian is your energy (Qi) centre, which lies more or less 2 thumbs under your navel. When you practice Tai Ji you have to focus your mind on your Dantian and send the energy (Qi) from there to other parts of your body and send it back to your Dantian. This simple concept (at least for the Chinese) is already so difficult to grasp for us. How can we feel that we are sending our Qi from our Dantian to the correct bodypart?? My teacher always told me that I am sending my Qi only to my knees and never the whole way down to my feet, so I put too much pressure on my knees and my feet are not grounded. For years, I had no idea what he was talking about. Now, I start to understand… I think (!?) Who can ever tell but a real Tai Ji master if you have enough Qi and if it is flowing through your body?

All this makes Tai Ji very interesting. You never stop learning. You can never say that you know 1 form really well. It takes years of practice to learn a form in detail and to connect all the details together: your hips have to be flexible, your whole body should be relaxed, but your legs should be firm, your breathing should connect your movements, your hands have to be open, but not too open, and so on, and so on,…
I would recommend everyone to start their own journey into Tai Ji and feel for yourself how you get to know your body all over again in a different way!