Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Plea To The Middle-Aged Athlete

I have a forty-something year old
friend in Park City named Harold.
He is a great ski racer, and a total
maniac when it comes to training
and staying active. A couple years
ago, I saw him at a party. He couldn't
stop bouncing his leg around, so
I asked what was up. He said he
had developed tendonitis around
one knee, and that it bugged him
all the time.

My biological father was a track-star,
a champion, a phenom. In his 20s and
30s, he kept running: 10k races and
everyday training. At age 42, he had
surgery on both knees, and never ran
again. I was a 22-year old athlete at
the time, and this scared the hell out
of me.

You know what I'm getting at.
If you're over age 40, but still train
like you're 20, you've got mounting
physical issues that you believe will
get better if you just stay active. You
might see a sports medicine doctor,
or you might just pop your Motrin
from a Pez dispenser & ignore the issues.
But deep down, you know you're doing
the wrong thing because you've watched
your older friends dropping out, one by
one, for years and years.

(The United Health Care commercial
where the lady reluctantly admits she's
"a runner," and continues to run despite
her failing knees DRIVES ME CRAZY!)

The Chinese say that if you practice
the proper methods, you will be healthy
and live a long life; but if you practice
improper methods, sickness will enter.

Why is it that no one sees Lance Armstrong's
testicular cancer as a result of improper
training ? Why don't people equate the
thousands of hours he spent with his nuts
squished between his legs, and the tiny
bike seat up his DMZ as the CAUSE ?
Bicycling is fun in small doses, but it's
absolutely devastating to a man's health
if he does it too much.

Salt Lake Magazine recently ran a story
about a local runner who ran and ran and
ran; opened a running store; then found
out he had cancer ! The article put him
on a pedestal with Lance Armstrong,
instead of saying the truth--
"He ran so much he got cancer."

Why do people worship the physicality
of Bruce Lee ? THE GUY IS DEAD !
Do you have any clue that Bruce Lee's
insane training regimen gave him the brain
aneurysm ? Look at his posture in the
photo above. Does that look healthy
to you ? Dead, dead, DEAD !

Wake up ! Stop beating on yourself !
Start taking care of yourself !
I beg you !
If you train hard, you know lots of
people who used to train hard but
simply can't any more. Do you really
believe it won't happen to you ?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Talk Radio w/ Glenda the Good Nurse

On November 10th, I went on air
with Glenda the Good Nurse on
K-Star Radio 1400 AM. We had
a great conversation about Healing
Exercise, and I believe I introduced
a number of concepts that seem
like common sense all twisted up
in fitness buzzwords.

Please click the links to listen:

How To Pick A Tai Chi Teacher

What Is Tai Chi ?

Tommy's Bio and About His Famous Dog

What Is Healing Exercise ?

What Is QiGong (chee-gong) ?

What Are The Benefits of Tai Chi ?

Fitness Is A Dirty Word...

On Preventive Care

On Breathing

On Sitting Exercise

Closing Segment

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Funny Bone of Health Care

You don't want to pay your taxes.
But you do anyway, because the
penalties for not are pretty stiff.
Begrudgingly, you "allow" the
I.R.S. to take a sizable chunk of
every dollar you earn.

Your government collects your
tax money, and divides it up for
expenditure, based on priority.
Safety comes first.

Yup, a whole bunch of the $$ goes to
the military. Think about it. Without
the impenetrable bubble the military
creates over our country, you would
be focused on your family's survival
every day of the week. You wouldn't
be whining about many of the things
that bug you right now.

So after your government pays for your
safety, it spends a big chunk of dough
on health care. $2.2 trillion dollars a year,
or $8000 per person so says the Whitehouse.

Now, the government's job is to use its
best efforts and brightest people to keep
the country in good health.  But U.S.
citizens don't take good care of themselves.
This raises the price of health care, which
comes from your taxes, which you didn't
want to pay in the first place.

So, every citizen's healthcare costs the
government a certain amount of money.
And the longer we live, the more we
cost. So with better health care, we will
live longer, and cost the country more
money, which comes out of the taxes
that we don't want to pay.
You follow me ?

At some point, your government has to
make tough decisions on how to pay for
everyone's health, even though folks won't
take care of themselves and they're living
longer and longer. Believe it or not,
the government does a better job taking
care of people's health than most people
do for themselves.

So what do U.S. citizens expect ? Evidently,
they expect to sit on the couch and watch
TV in a completely safe country where they
shouldn't have to vote or pay taxes. They expect
to live a long time-- despising the thought
of exercise-- but when their bodies do
break down and get sick, the good citizens
of the United States expect the government to
assure their health by paying the medical costs,
even though they poison themselves with sodas
and alcohol and foods full of MSG. They expect
the U.S. of A to try and wipe their asses while
they picket and chant and point their fingers at
the U.S. of A for doing a terrible job.

So what do I need to do ?
I feel like I should be banging pots and pans
in the street to get people to wake up ! We
are living in a fantasyland, where most will not
take any responsibility for their own health.
Worse yet, everyone wants the U.S. government
to simply handle it. But they don't want to vote,
pay for it, or do anything to help.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

HealthCare in Austria, China & The U.S.

My wife sent me this article about
a high school football team bowing out
of a game because of the risks:

I have thought for a while that
football contributes in part to the
health problems in the U.S. Think
about how many boys play football
through the high school level, and
how many males get injured in their
football "career." It's a lot. Also consider
that our national sport of football has
very few people "doing" it; generally,
we sit on the couch and "watch it."

This got me thinking about the national
sports of Austria and China. In Austria,
skiing is the national sport; just about
everyone skis. In China, it's martial arts;
most people practice them, but especially
Tai Chi.

There are lots of factors to a nation's health
care profile: wealth of the nation, number
of doctors, lifestyle, sanitation, etc. But when
you look at some statistics, you might be surprised
about the place you live in.

According to NationMaster.com, reviewing
the top obesity countries, you might not be
surprised that the U.S. is number one in the world.
Austria is #24 and China's not on the list.

But you might be surprised that in the category
of "probability of not reaching age 60," you have
lots of the Kyrgyzstans, Uzbekistans; Georgia,
Bulgaria, Latvia, Russia--
and then at #24 is the United States !
Austria is #31; China's not on the list !

In the category of "per capita government
expenditure on health," the U.S. was number
five with $2,368 spent per person per year.
Austria was number 20 at $1,551 p.p.p.y.
And China was #121, at a whopping $88.00

Conversely, in the "private expenditure on health
as a percentage of total expenditure on health,"
(meaning percent you pay for your own healthcare...),
China ranked #26 at 66.3% (meaning they pay
this percentage of their own costs). The U.S.
ranks 51st with 55% out-of-pocket. And Austria
ranks #116 at 30.1%.

In the category of "total population life expectancy,"
Austria is #15 with 79 years. The U.S. is #28
with 77 years. And China ties (for an adjusted spot)
with 71 years.

In the category of
"percentage of life lived in ill-health: female,"
The U.S. is #6.
Austria is #27.
And China is not on the list !

It can be said that the U.S. is the wealthiest
of the three, but the most sedentary. Overall,
we can live a long time, but not in the best
of health. Likely, it can be said that we are
at least as unhealthy as China, even though
we're richer and have better healthcare.

It can be said that Austria is a fairly wealthy
country, and that it's citizens, though they
eat plenty of pastries and cheese, stay pretty
active, live healthy lives, and live a long time.
And Austria picks up most of the bill.

China may have wealth, but its money doesn't
make it into the healthcare system. People
have to take care of themselves. Adjusted to
the fact that they have such a huge population,
and fairly poor sanitation, it can be said that
the Chinese do a much better job taking care
of themselves than most countries. They have
a much higher probability of reaching age 60
than we do; have far fewer females with ill health--
and that's on $88 government dollars per year !

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Get Young, Stay Young

Western health science is based
on matter, its makeup, and
its functions-- and watching
the body run until it breaks.
Then it tries to fix it.

Eastern health science is based
on energy, and how to use it for
longevity, vitality, (power,) and
for healing. It empowers the body,
therefore warding-off sickness,
disease and injury--
all preemptive efforts to keep the
body from breaking.

If you're reading this, chances
are you understand only the
former, and very little of Eastern
health science. So I'll illustrate
for you.

Westerners don't think about
things in terms of energy; although
you know right away when you've
run out of it. Right ?

Consider the energy of conception.
Westerners don't think about sperm
and an ovum as having much energy.
But in fact, the energy of a single sperm
and a single ovum is so great and
powerful that it can CREATE a new
life, a new being. Where else can
you find that kind of energy ?

While you ponder the theory, I'll
let you in on a little secret. You still
have that kind of energy in your body.
The Taoists call it "pre-natal energy"
or "original energy." This is the same
energy that made you and keeps you

But year after year, you have less of it.
You probably sit too much. You're diet
might not be the greatest. You don't
exercise properly. So your hips are
getting stiffer, your breaths are getting
shorter, and your skin is wrinkling.
These are indicators that your original
energy is slipping away from you.

There is good news ! The Taoists have
developed ways to stop the clock, and
actually turn the hands backward. You
can rebuild your pre-natal energy with
special breathing, relaxation, posture
and movement.

Not only can you get it back, but you
can cultivate it to very high levels.
The best tool I know of is the internal
martial arts: Tai Chi, BaGua and
Xing-Yi Boxing. Collectively, these
are called "Wudang." (the rap band
Wu-Tang Clan named themselves
after these most-powerful of martial

What I like to say is this: the proof
is in the pudding. Check out this
video. First, guess how old this
guy is. Then guess again. He's no
spring chicken, probably about 70.
But watch how he moves. Watch
how flexible he is. See how powerful
he is. This is proof that Wudang is
the fountain of youth !


Monday, September 13, 2010

Defining "Spirituality"

World Religions Ranked By Adherents:
Christianity: 2.1 Billion
Islam: 1.5 Billion
Hinduism: 900 Million
Buddhism: 400 M to 1.5 Billion
Chinese Folk: ~400 Million
Sikhism: 23 Million
Judaism: 14 Million

When a baby becomes baptized
under a single faith, the baby's
spirit is no more developed than
it was before the baptism. However,
that baby was born with an innate
responsibility for and to its parents, and
likely, it's family. The manifestation
of that responsibility is an indicator
of spirit.

When a child attends church, week
after week, the teachings are a system
to cultivate the child's spirituality.
Along with family prayer and
ceremonial rites, the child strengthens
the bond with his family, develops
personal values, and cultivates his or her
spirit on these levels. Thus, religion
is a set of tools to develop the spirit.

The spirit is far more important than
the religion. But what is the spirit ?
Many believe it is different than the soul
or the psyche, and should not be used
interchangeably with either. Interestingly,
the word spirit comes from the Latin,
spiritus, which means "breath."

According to Dr. Steven T. Chang, M.D.,
(who is also a Chinese doctor, holds two
law degrees and a doctorate in both
theology and philosophy):

Where there is spirit, there is hope and
creativity. Because the spirit is not limited
by space or time and the body IS, a sense
of incompleteness arises, as well as a desire
to excel beyond the present physical
condition. Hopes that are beyond space
and time imbue man with the urge and
ability to create. Hoping his creations will
somehow make his physical presence last
as long as his spiritual presence, man creates
religion, science, music and art, erects
monuments of many materials and even
builds empires. But his accomplishments
never give him enough satisfaction: at the
root of all his travails,
man desires to be immortal.
(religions partially satisfy the need for
immortality, but they focus on life after death)
There are lots of ways to develop the
spirit complimentary to religion, and without
it altogether. Many people have felt
spiritually uplifted by books such as
The Celestine Prophecy, The Secret,
and Eat, Pray, Love. Taoists develop
the spirit through movement, breathing,
diet and healthy living.

What's the point of spirituality ?
Consider the difference between
"The Standard of Life"
"The Quality of Life."
Spirituality raises the index of both.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Touch Yourself

Whether or not you believe in "chi,"
your body generates and circulates
measurable electromagnetic energy.

Some of the hottest "emerging"
technology is based on touch to
focus that energy on points or areas
of the body for health and healing.

Master Fu once told me,
"Don't ever do massage with clothes
on. The hands must touch skin--
then your power goes into the patient.
Strong Chinese doctors send their
power down through the needle when
they do acupuncture."

Entire systems of healing are based
on touch, like Reiki, Quantum Touch,
Touch for Health and Healing Touch.
New chiropractic methods involve
direct touch. I even had a treatment
one time called Bio Energetic
Synchronization Technique (B.E.S.T.),
where a lady found a painful point
on one part of my body, and then
on another point of my body; pushed
a finger into each point; had me
breath in and out; and both pain
points vanished. It was pretty cool.

I recommend touching yourself.
Find the places that hurt and work
your fingers into them for at least
20 minutes. Or, if you have problems
with no pain-- such as cysts, tumors,
internal problems, etc-- place your
palms on the skin over those areas
and concentrate on relieving the issue.
This is one form of meditation.

If you are trying to lose weight,
touch could be one of the best
methods you try. Grab your belly
fat and work it. Knead it with your
fingers, roll it around aggressively,
and own that shit ! Work all the
places where you're not happy with
the fat, and you might just surprise
yourself at how it melts away.

Last, did you ever stop to think about
why it feels so good to take your
shoes off and stand barefoot on the
ground, or in the grass, or in the sand ?
Probably not, but it feels great. In fact,
when we build a house, we have to
"ground" the electrical system by
planting a metal rod deep in the earth
and linking it to the house. When
you stand barefoot on the ground,
you are also grounding your body,
stabilizing your internal energy and
re-supplying it with all the electrons
it needs.

I recommend simultaneously pulling
down your pants, spreading your butt
cheeks with your hands, and getting direct
sunlight on your anus--
but this is a more advanced technique...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Longevity and Immortality

It surprises me that most everyone wants
to live forever-- or at least until they're 100--
and yet almost no one does what it takes to
live that long. Most folks eat too much, drink
too much, neglect their bodies, and continue
stupid habits like smoking, watching too
much TV, and improper sexual practices.

When it comes to longevity, Okinawans
wear the crown. You can go out and read
a bunch stuff on the internet as to why.
You'll find snippets like the fact that they
only eat until they're 80 percent full; and
they eat a wide variety of vegetables and
soy products.

I went to Okinawa in 1999. When I was
there, I was a little obsessed with why they
live so long. I had a number of translators,
so I could ask lots of them why. Most of
them told me it was dietary. They all said
that seaweed is a big reason, and that it's
imperative to eat small amounts of pork.

What may be imperceptible to them is the
fact that their lifestyle is so relaxed. Okinawa
is like a Japanese version of Hawaii, so you
can imagine it's very beautiful and cushy.
The Okinawans don't have words for lying,
cheating, stealing and rape; and they certainly
do not do those things. By the time I left
and landed in Taiwan, white people freaked
me out.

The longevity reign of Okinawans is only
questionable in my mind because we can't
research the Chinese in the same way.
China is closed-off, enormous, and lots of
its people live high in the mountains or way
out in BFE.

The Chinese use the word "immortality"
to mean "live longer than yer sposta, and
live well in your old age."

Behold, Li Ching-Yuen !
He is known as "the 250-year old man."
Li was an herbalist and a martial artist.
There are records in China from 1827
congratulating Li on his 150th birthday.
In 1927, General Yang Sen was said to be
impressed with Li's youthfulness, strength
and prowess. Li died May 6, 1933--

In my experience, I've learned there are
three real keys to longevity:

1. Diet
Don't eat too much. Live with hunger,
it's good for you. Be sure to eat
Onion, Garlic, Ginger, & Cilantro
as often as you can. These things are
very good for your health. Also, eat
Greens, Small Amounts of Pork,
Fish Oil and Green Tea. I highly
recommend you take vitamins; and
when you feel your energy running
low, read up on the different kinds
of Ginseng.

2. Healing Exercise
Li Ching-Yuen was a Chinese martial
artist. If you don't believe me, believe
him-- practice of proper martial arts
will extend the usable life of your
body well into your golden years.
Fu Tai Chi is the best exercise there is.

3. Relaxation
Li's secret of long life was:
  • Tranquil mind
  • Sit like a tortoise
  • Walk sprightly like a pigeon
  • Sleep like a dog
All four of these points mean to say,
"relax, loose the tension." This echoes
what I know of Okinawans, and also
exemplifies an important principle of
Fu Tai Chi.

Live long and prosper.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Why We Love Dogs

Dogs are lovable and playful.
And they way they express their love to us
is through their play.

In their youth, dogs are super-flexible. We love
to watch them stretch when they wake up, and
fold their bodies in half when they lick their own
butts. A dog can scratch his ear with his hind
leg with no trouble at all.

Dogs are super-powerful. Although they lack
the ball-like rotations of our shoulders and hips,
dogs have amazing range of motion, superb
tendons, and muscles that explode like dynamite.
This allows them to do things like jump fences,
run 40 mph, grab frisbees out of the air, and
fight with other dogs.

The physicality of a dog is no more and no less
than the rest of the animal kingdom. The difference
is that we get to house, keep and interact with
these awesome creatures. Until they grow old,
dogs are a personal circus right in your living
room or your backyard. We live vicariously
through them, wishing we could move, stretch,
jump and run they way they can.

If we learn the magic practice of Fu Tai Chi,
we can be much more like them: moving
effortlessly and freely. If we practice weight
lifting and jogging, and the other forms of
hard exercise-- or if we do nothing at all--
we will get old and stiff, and break down
just the way a dog does.

In Chinese martial arts, we say,
"Like dogs, karate masters get old."
But if you practice Fu Tai Chi, you
will remain vibrant and youthful,
like a dog jumping a high fence.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My New Big Toe

In ninth grade, I took typing class.
with Mrs. Corp. On the first day,
she taught us to keep our wrists up
so that our fingers hung down onto
the keys. When we got lazy and let
our wrists drop, she would remind us.

In college, I enrolled in the first
volleyball class and learned the
proper way to pass the ball, set
and spike. I also took swimming
and learned the proper form for
all the major strokes. Then I took
kinesiology and learned the
mechanics of the human body.

All developed forms of physical
activity have proper form. Running
form; climbing form; swimming form--
even throwing a frisbee has form.

But what do they all have in common ?
Breathing is an obvious answer; and
using the bones and joints for leverage.
And how about the fact that skill comes
from practicing proper form and developing
good habits ?

There are also many commonalities between
sport-specific forms, like the way running
and boxing both keep the chin down; and
the way skiing and swimming both elongate
the arms; the way a baseball pitch and
a golf swing both create rotational speed
from the trunk; and the way bowling and
surfing require whole-body coordination.
And almost every high-level athlete uses
relaxation and skeletal stacking for balance,
speed, stability and power issuance.

But little is it known which form supersedes
all individual athletic forms. You might be
surprised to learn how all of the form
commonalities I just mentioned are proper
to Fu Tai Chi practice. However, Fu Tai Chi is
far more developed than any of those forms.

Check out this photo:

This is what a chiropractor will tell you is "normal,
healthy posture."

But when I practice my Fu Tai Chi posture, my back
looks like this:
See how straight and flat it is ?

After seven years of practicing Fu Tai Chi posture,
and Tai Chi principles, my whole body has

The most surprising and recent change is that
of my big toe on my right foot. As of April 2010,
my right big toe had gotten so much stronger
that it started developing new calluses. By
May, it started wearing holes through socks and
slippers. By June, I had to start taping it with
athletic tape because it was wearing the skin
off itself. This toe has literally reorganized itself
to be reborn as a much, much stronger asset to
my balance, speed and coordination.

Since I began Fu Tai Chi, I have found it to boost
and accelerate all of my other athletics. I have
better balance, more efficiency, I can run faster--
I'm even better at putting the dishes away.

I challenge you to practice Fu Tai Chi for six
weeks and see how you feel. I bet you'll
feel the changes too.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Brush your teeth; practice your energy

I bet you brush your teeth.
But why ?

Is it to make them look good ?
Or is it to avoid having them
rot away ?

People brush their teeth to prevent
problems in the future. It takes years to
get a child to understand that if he or she
doesn't take care of his teeth, they're
going to rot and fall out.

So why don't you have the same relationship
with your body ? People exercise to look good,
not for future health. You can look around
and know that as you age, your body
will begin to break down. First you lose
the ability to jump and run. Then your
balance gets weaker. Then you become
prone to injuries.

Young adults have a "normal" posture,
and "normal" walking gait. But middle-aged
people begin to show a "side to side,"
penguin waddle. Seniors are more bent
over, and take smaller steps.
Like oral hygiene, the body can be cared-for
in a way that makes it useful for a lifetime.

Back to TommyTheory:
"You can only exercise to the level you
So for many, jogging and weight-lifting are
what they understand. This kind of exercise
is beneficial when you're 25, not when
you're 45.
Others find out for themselves that
energy practice is a boon to the body,
and for sooth--
The Fountain of Youth.
Fu Tai Chi and QiGong are special exercise
that will keep you healthy and mobile
your whole life.

Brushing your teeth is like a health bank;
every day you contribute a few minutes
of time so that when you're old, you still
have your natural teeth.
Fu Tai Chi is exactly the same; 20 minutes
each day will extend your mobility much
longer than if you don't exercise or if you
jog, lift weights, or do most other forms
of exercise.

The next time you brush you teeth, take
a good look at your body and ask yourself,
"Why don't I take better care of my body ?"

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Mysteries of Kung Fu

There is an old Shaolin story that goes
like this:
A young man was accepted into the
Shaolin school. He showed up to his
first lesson excited to learn.

The old monk led the young man to
a raised pool and told him to slap the

When the young man came back to
class the next day, the monk told him
to go to the pool and slap the water.
Day after day, this was the only task
he was given.

After 12 months, the young man became
so frustrated that he broke his instruction
and went to the monk who was eating
breakfast. The young man demanded
a lesson, slamming his hand down on the
heavy wooden breakfast table, which
immediately broke in half.

The monk looked up at the young man
and said, "you're ready for your next lesson."


Sun Lu Tang is perhaps the most famous
XingYi Boxer in history. It is said that his
first teacher taught him how to stand for
his first lesson, and did not check on him
for one year. When he returned, he struck
Sun in the back and was surprised that
Sun did not lose his balance.

It is said that Sun's best student practiced
the stance for three years before he learned
anything else.


In the beginning of June, a young man came
to me asking for private lessons. In the very
first lesson, I saw just how clumsy and stiff
he was. But he practiced hard, and made
amazing progress. Two days ago, he came
for a lesson. I asked him how much he was
practicing. He said, "two hours a day, but
I would practice more if I was learning anything."
He had not noticed how his clumsiness had
waned, and how much stronger his stance
and balance had gotten.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Gentle Exercise

My father was a track star in high
school, and continued jogging
almost every day. In his 30's, he
was still a fantastic distance runner,
placing well in running competitions.
By age 42, his knees were done
and he had to stop running completely.

A female friend from high school
was also a track star. She, too, kept
running afterward, staying very "fit"
in her 30's, but suffering multiple
health problems she considered
"unrelated." To this day, she denies
she has any health problems, but
continues going to the doctor for
all sorts of issues.

At age 38, I can tell story after story
about "fitness" fanatics who felt they
needed their hard exercise-- running,
biking, weight-lifting, etc-- in order
to stay healthy and look good. But
the reality is hard exercise isn't that
good for you after age 30. Sure, you
can still do it in your 30's, but you're
causing yourself problems. And in
your 40's, the pain you feel from
hard exercise is your body telling
you "hard exercise is wrong for you."

Most generally, people exercise to
look good. But if you've read my blog
or listened to other health professionals,
trimming body fat is a dietary function.

So if you want to be healthy, and exercise
in a suitable, sustainable manner, you need
to exercise gently. Chinese calisthenics like
tai chi and QiGong gently work the entire
body, including the cardiovascular system
because they include super-special breathing
practices. They also strengthen the trunk
(build so-called "core strength") because
they include postural practice. Your hard
exercise has neither postural training or
breathing training.

If you're over age 35, you need to take a
good look around and see who USED TO
exercise hard, but can't anymore. You need
to look into the crystal ball and understand
in earnest that hard exercise is not sustainable.
In fact, it's not even what's keeping you looking

Keep exercising hard, and you will plague
yourself with pain, health problems and
deteriorating joints.

If you don't exercise at all, you need to start.

Exercise gently, and you will live longer
and healthier. I beg you to listen to me,
and act now.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Your Feet Are Weak

When I graduated from high school,
I began pushing the limits of my
physical stamina. I jogged almost
every day, gradually increasing the
distance until I hit the six mile mark.

Then after my freshman year of college,
I started triathlon training. After one
month, my typical workout was a fast
20-mile bike followed by a perpetually
faster 10-mile run. This typically lasted
around three hours, which left me pretty
useless to do much else. When I rode or
ran with anyone else, I would leave them
in the dust. The catabolism ate down my
body weight to a mere 163 pounds.

In my sophomore year, I started lifting
weights and put on more than 30 pounds
of muscle. By the end of college, I had
gotten pretty big, but so was my appetite.
I continued lifting for 10 years, and did
some cross-training as well. In general,
my body was been equal to many world-
class athletes.

Then at age 31, I started Fu Tai Chi with
Grandmaster Victor ShengLong Fu.
I had to let go of most of my experience,
and my education, such as the university-
level kinesiology and the weight-training
techniques I learned from the early-ninety's
Mr. Michigan. Everything was just so

Now I've been studying and practicing hard
with Fu for seven straight years. My balance
has increased so much that I can't even explain
it, other than to say my feet have reorganized

My right foot, which has always been a little
weaker than the left, has gotten bigger, stronger,
and now the ball and big toe hurt all the time.
They have new calluses and ache from the new
way I walk, stand and move. This is not the
kind of ache you get from wearing fancy shoes
with heels; this kind of ache tells me that the
way I used to walk was babying my feet,
instead of strengthening them.

The age-old tenets of tai chi say,
"the root is in the feet." When you begin to
practice the slow twisting movements of
tai chi, your ankles will twist and your feet
will begin to clutch the earth in the same
way a tree does, or the way an eagle grasps
a tree branch. Your feet will get amazingly

Monday, June 21, 2010

Shut Down and Shut Up

By the end of the 2007 summer, I had
gotten a little pudgy. My restaurant
had a beer license, and I loved to drink
MY beer when I was there. I practiced
my tai chi every day, so even though
I looked soft, I was still pretty capable.

Dustin came into town and demanded
that I go on a whitewater river trip with
him the next day. I said I had too much
to manage with the restaurant, and that
it was out of the question. He convinced
me with a check for $15,000; so I packed
for a week off the grid, and left with him for
Cataract Canyon.

The subject of volleyball had come up, so
Dusty brought his net and I brought my ball.
All the way to Moab, Dustin and Scotty
mouthed-off about how they would beat
everyone and anyone in a game. I have
always thought trash-talking was really low
brow, and unsportsmanlike, so I said nothing.

But the bullshit didn't stop. Two days on the
river, and you would think these guys would
have something else to talk about-- but no.
These guys would not shut up !

I asked this tall young guy, Brandon, if he
could play, and this only seemed to fuel the
trash talk.

"Remember that last trip ? We beat everybody !
And then, just the two of us beat everybody
at the same time ! Muah ha ha ha ha ! We're
gonna kick yer ass !"

We landed at the beach at Brown Betty rapids
in the afternoon on the third day. We guy-wired
the net for tension and got some air into the ball
with the clever use of a ballpoint pen.

Dustin and Scotty are both short, but superbly
athletic. When they take off their shirts, the
muscles just ripple under offensively-tanned skin.
When I took my shirt off, a pony keg of beer
sloshed beneath a blinding moon-tan. I believe
this was a big part of their confidence, not to
mention that these two had played a lot together.

Brandon didn't have a lot of volleyball experience,
but he could really move. When it was my shot,
I placed the ball all over the court, and ran them
into oxygen debt. At one point in the second game,
they were both bent over, sweating and breathing hard.
I told Brandon loud enough for them to hear,
"Look at 'em, they're exhausted."

Rare was a set from Brandon that was good enough
to spike, but I did punch a few right down their throats
for good measure. Mostly, I fed them pain with my
serves. I heard Dustin whine, "Man, that stings."

We beat them three straight games. These two rock-hard,
deep-tan maniacs stood there with the most bewildered,
disbelieving looks on their faces. I stuck out my belly as
far as it would go and laughed punishingly as I grabbed
two fistfuls of fat and did a little dance.

Dustin never talks about that day.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Meat & Vegetables

Lots of kids don't want to eat their
vegetables. With taste buds all over
their little mouths, vegetables can
seem bitter, or spicey or just gross.
I for one could not stomach raw
tomatoes because they reminded
me of garbage. Mushrooms tasted
like dirt, and olives were just
crazy gross.

But when you get to be an adult,
veggies start tasting better and better.
Onions become a staple of flavor.
Artichokes seem delicious. And
things like sliced cucumbers and
avocado are a delicacy.

So many men are really into their
meat. My brother in law won't eat
vegetables, only meat. And he likes
it spicey... which comes from hot

Think of it this way. When you go
to Subway, the breads are good,
and you order your favorite meat.
But what really excites you is having
the plastic-gloved clerk load up
your sandwich with fresh veggies.
You know exactly what you want
when you walk through the door.
And it's the veggies that give your
sandwich the awesome flavors.

"Lettuce, tomato, green peppers,
yellow peppers, jalepenos, cucumbers."

Raw vegetables are alive. When you
chew a piece of red bell pepper, or
onion on a burger, you're eating a
living organism. This does a number
of good things for you.

The people of Okinawa live longer
than anyone on the planet. When I was
there, I asked a bunch of them why.
Almost every time, the answer was
that they eat a lot of seaweed, and
small amounts of pork. Each of them
seemed to think the small amounts of
pork is very important.

I don't recommend vegetarian or vegan
diet. The reason human brains have
so developed is because of eating meat.
2 million years of protein has turbo-charged
our cerebrums. Conversely, our early
ancestor Australopithecus was vegetarian,
and became extinct about 2 million years

The point of this blog is merely to suggest
a ratio of meat to vegetables.

Try to eat mostly vegetables and small
amounts of meat. In fact, you can probably
eat all the vegetables you want (although
corn is pretty high on the glycemic index).
Eat fruit, but remember that fruit is generally
more sugary than veggies. And eat some
meat. Okinawans recommend pork. Sometimes,
my body craves beef; so I'll eat lean beef,
but not too much of it. Eating fish seems
to help me lose body fat. I eat poultry, but
try to keep that in check also.

Go buy a nice red or orange bell pepper
and eat it like an apple.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Down 14-Pounds In 3-Weeks

I'll tell you how, but first I want
to tell you:
A. I am the master of losing weight
B. I'm not done yet
C. (this is important) I am in no
better "shape" now than I was
three weeks ago.

So, how do I lose body fat ?
It's 95 percent diet. Yes, you
do need to exercise if you want
to lose body fat; however, your
unyielding willpower must be
absolutely focused on what you
put in your mouth.

First (and this is not an advertisement),
when I want to lose body fat, I buy
three bottles of caffeine-free HydroxyCut.
The name sounds terrible, seemingly
implying that this product is comprised
of harsh chemicals and such, but
it's not. It's mostly green tea extracts.
I take two pills when I get out of bed,
wait an hour, then make an omelette
with two eggs, green onions and maybe
some mushrooms or red peppers. I take
my GNC vitamin pack with about
three ounces of juice.

I have weened myself off lunch. You
can do it too; you just need to eat dinner
a little earlier. Drinking water all day
helps a lot. In fact, other than juice with
breakfast, I don't drink anything else.

Some time around 3:00, I take two more
pills. The around 4:00, I make a great
salad. First iceberg, then spinach, then
either broccoli slaw or cabbage slaw,
then cucumbers, red peppers, fresh
cilantro, (sometimes Roma tomatoes)
two tablespoons of light dressing,
plenty of gorgonzola, several shakes
of real bacon bits, some dried berries,
dried coconut, sun-dried tomatoes,
several dashes of green Tobasco,
and lots of black pepper. I like to
give myself four or five Whoppers
for desert.

If I get hungry later, I eat a can of
white tuna, or sardines in hot sauce.
Protein in small quantities is the
name of the game.

Some nights, around 9:30, I will eat
a small bowl of Raisin Bran with
1% milk. This is a sugary snack, but
seems to help keep my bowels moving.
I don't eat very much of it either.

As far as exercise, I do follow a
regimen of approximately 60-minutes
each day--
but I'm doing Tai Chi and calisthenics,
not lifting weights or beating my brains
out somehow.

This is why I say I am in no better shape
than before. I have lost body fat, but
I am negligibly more capable than I was
three weeks ago. In fact, I took a "before"
photo with my belly hanging over my
pants, and it doesn't mean a damn thing.
Three weeks ago, I was in the best shape
of my life, and I still am.

Friday, May 14, 2010

You Are Born Of Energy

When you're green, you're growing.
When you're ripe, you rot.
So what is the difference between
growing and rotting ?
Growing is cultivating energy.
Rotting is the loss of energy.

Pinch yourself.
Go ahead and do it.

At the molecular level, your
skin looks like this:
What you see is matter.

But at the atomic level, matter
is comprised of atoms which are
mostly energy, and very little "stuff."

When you are dead, your body
lies motionless-- a lump of decomposing
matter. When you are alive, you
have energy; you move and breathe
and make decisions. In fact, the
human brain is so vast and complex,
it is rarely denoted or connoted as
simply a mass of "grey matter." It
is the movement of electro-magnetic
energy that makes it "a mind."
The body is exactly the same.

So why do you think about your body
as a mass of carbon-based matter ?
This is simply what you've been taught.
Most movement and exercises are practices
based on the concept of matter.

But when you practice Fu Tai Chi, you are
learning a completely different basis for
movement. Forget that you have bones.
Forget that you have muscles. Forget that
your earthly form is constructed of matter.
Instead, think of your body as a circuit of
energy with an awesome battery in the center.
Because it is.

The Chinese call life energy "chi." Practice
of Fu Tai Chi (and Chi Kung) cultivates energy.
Western doctors and trainers dispute the
existence of chi because they can't see it,
touch it or measure it. But they have the
same dilemma about death: what does
a living person have that a dead one
doesn't ? Energy. Chi.

When you're born, you breathe deeply.
As you get older, your breaths become
shorter and shorter. When you die,
you don't breath anymore.  Air is chi.
Wind is condensed chi. A tornado is
a powerful issuance of chi.

When you practice Fu Tai Chi, you learn
to breath in a sophisticated way that
cultivates and stores energy. When you
develop these skills, you eliminate
illness. You can do more in a day.
You will live longer and healthier.
And you can use the chi for many
different applications such as speed,
power, grace, accuracy and endurance.

Matter doesn't really matter.
Develop your energy.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Muscle is Temporary; Joints are Forever

Yesterday, I wrote a blog to say,
"Strength Ain't The Way."

Some heated debate arose on a
website that runs my blogs in
tandem. While I am trying to
start a revolution of better health,
and freely offer excellent advice,
some senior citizens argued with
me that lifting weights is
ALWAYS a good thing.

This morning I found a valuable
link on Oprah.com; multiple
"fitness" experts offer advice on
exercise in your 20's, 30's, 40's,
50's, 60's, period. If you briefly
peruse the article you will see
just "how important" weight lifting
is to LOSE WEIGHT when you're
young; then gradually, the experts
tell you to phase out of it in order
to maintain your mobility. There is
no mention of how to exercise after
the decade of your 60's:

My work coincides greatly with this
information, with the exception that
I'm not advising exercise for fat loss.
I'm trying to convey the message that

I want you to think of it this way:
imagine a 1-14 scale pH test for mobility.
Less than seven is incrementally decreasing
mobility, and 8-14 is increasing mobility.
When you're born, you're immobile:
you are a one (1) on this scale. Then
as you grow up, you get more mobile
until you reach a precipice; let's just
guess you reach pH 10 at age 15. Then
you start getting older, and gradually
stiffer. You reach pH 7 at age 30, and
lose a point every decade after that.
Most people finish life grossly immobile.

If you were to imagine a pH scale for
health, it would overlay the pH scale
for mobility almost identically. So again:

YOUR HEALTH. What I sincerely
want you to understand is that the more
mobile you are, the fewer health problems
you will have. This has everything to do
with stimulation of the internal organs &
the spinal column, and weight-bearing on
your bones (which is where white blood
cells are manufactured).

Every time you lift weights, you are reducing
your mobility. Your tendons are getting
shorter and shorter from all the excessive
pulling; this in turn reduces your range
of motion. Even if you stretch, it's not enough.
Your mobility pH is going down every day.
When you're older, you'll have twice as
far to go to regain mobility.

Conversely, if you practice Tai Chi, you will
let go of your strength. You will relax; stand
upright; allow your tendons to stretch in
natural, rotational patterns; and increase your
mobility. If you thought it was strange that
a 15-year old only achieves a mobility of 10,
it's because people like gymnasts, dancers
and Tai Chi masters are far more mobile
than even a highly flexible teenager.

Tai Chi is based on the philosophy of
the "Tao Te Ching." Chapter 76 reads:
Man when living is soft and tender;
When dead is hard and tough.
All animals and plants when living are tender and fragile
When dead they become withered and dry.
Therefore it is said:
The hard and tough are part of death;
The soft and tender are parts of life.

Weight lifting will speed you to your death.
Fu Tai Chi will make you tender and years younger.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Strength Ain't The Way

I once read a quote from Forbes that said
something like, "for each generation to
make progress, it must view the one before
it as barbaric."

These days, exercise is all about muscle
and strength. But in the future, we will
look back on these concepts as barbaric.
Why ? Well, for a lot of reasons.

We're starting to realize that building
muscle is not as valuable as enhancing
function, i.e. those with great coordination
and balance tend to be much more athletic
than those with great strength.

I thought yoga was fad. Back in the 90's,
all the ladies and metrosexual men were
dashing into yoga classes and workshops.
(I think Madonna had a lot to do with it)
I was sure that yoga would be dead in
ten years. I was wrong. But the way
I see it, many who practice yoga still
talk about how it builds strength.

The hottest emerging exercise is called
functional exercise or (gulp) "functional fitness."
The concept is that conventional weight
training isolates and builds muscles, but
it doesn't "teach" those muscle groups
to work with other muscles. So "functional"
movements focus less on raw strength and
more on integration and coordination. These
are more like whole-body exercises that will
help you lift a toddler out of a car seat or
carry a 60-pound suitcase down the stairs.

Doctors and trainers are closing in on the
exercise of the future. They know "functional"
is better than strong, and that stretching (yoga)
is really important. Tai Chi is all that and a
bag of chips.

Tai Chi is all about coordination. In fact, the
movements are slow so that you can fine tune
your coordination. When you move slowly,
you begin to feel which parts are not linked up.
In the west, we view "coordination" as aggregate.
But in Tai Chi, there are six coordinations:
three exterior (shoulders & hips; elbows &
knees; hands & legs) and three interior (heart
& intention; intention & chi; chi & strength).
At higher levels, all six must also coordinate.

Tai Chi is also a phenomenon of stretching.
Sure, yoga gets you stretched, but not like
Tai Chi. Tai Chi focuses on "functional"
stretching in the waist and hips so that you
can stand on your feet, balance very well,
and turn your body at will. Tai Chi masters
can move like the wind.

Tai Chi focuses on cultivation of "chi" or
life energy. The chi provides amazing
speed and power. While a western trainer
might believe this is just an alternative
method of strength training, the Tenets
of Tai Chi translate STRENGTH with the
word "Li." In Tai Chi, strength is forbidden
and "Li" is a dirty word.

My teacher's father once wrote, "when
you practice Tai Chi there should not
be a single iota of brute strength remaining
in your sinews."

The popularity of yoga has paved a perfect
path for Tai Chi. Time Magazine calls
Tai Chi "the perfect exercise," and it is.
In 20 years, we will look back and say,
"how silly that we used to focus on strength."

Friday, April 23, 2010

Think Fasting

This is not a subliminal message.
I write these words to plant the
seed inside your head.
Think fasting.

If you've never tried a fast, that
is, never intentionally denied
yourself food for 24 or 48 hours,
you should try it. If you've fasted
before, perhaps it's time again.

Fasting for a day is good for you.
The so-called "godfather of fitness,"
Jack Lalane, learned much of his juicing
and health techniques from a man named
Paul Bragg. Bragg loved to teach
people about the health benefits of
water fasting. It will clean your
system and help you start fresh.

I recommend you try it this way:

Tell yourself you're not going to eat
for 24 hours. Convince yourself.
Eat a normal breakfast and a healthy
lunch; then eat a salad for dinner.
Drink water with the salad, and for
the rest of the evening. Go to bed.

When you wake up, drink water
(definitely not coffee). Keep a full
glass of water with you all day, and
keep sipping it. I recommend distilled
water first, and filtered water second.
(Paul Bragg also recommended distilled).

If you get hungry, change up the water
for tea or watered-down juice. Go for
tea first; try not to drink juice unless
you're really coming apart. Do not let
yourself eat anything until dinner time.
Then, eat another salad and drink more
water. Drink water through that evening,
and go to bed. Try to eat light and healthy
the next day: mostly veggies if you can.

The "tail end" of this exercise is to observe
and consider the rates, consistencies, colors
and general abnormality of your bowel
movements. A water fast with veggies
consumed before and after should scrape
and flush your gastrointestinal system.
You should see all kinds of "weird shit"
and you might feel like improving your
diet for the future. (imagine scraping a film
of Big Mac’s from your intestines, and you
probably won’t want to replace it…)

Repeat as often as once each week, but
definitely try to fast once every six to
twelve months.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Old People Should Not Lift Weights

Without medical doctors, we would sure
be lost. They know all kinds of stuff
about organs and bones and brains--
all kinds of stuff.

But when I read about some doctor
suggesting seniors should lift weights,
I throw up a little in my mouth. They
don't call 'em DUMBELLS for nuthin'.

As humans, we want to walk upright.
But as we age, the so-called "stabilizing
muscles" have tensed and flexed so
much that they begin to merely lock up.
I'm talking about your hips and waist.

As the hips begin to lock in the adducted,
inward-rotated and hip-flexed position
(bent over and knock-kneed), the upper
and lower body will follow. Knees, feet
and ankles get stiff. Shoulders, elbows,
wrists and fingers get stiff.
(This is starting before you even turn 30...)

Without stretching, the joints break down.
They progressively stiffen out of alignment
because some ligaments lengthen abnormally
while others shorten. This wears the cartilage,
causing arthritis, pain and reduced mobilization.

(contrary to this diagram, tendons CAN
be lengthened)

By the time your 55, your tendons are short
and brittle. Lifting weights exacerbates the
problem, and can cause the muscle fibers
to tear out of their boney origins or insertions.

Resistance training is just plain dumb for
old people. This is why Tai Chi has become
so popular at assisted living facilities. Tai Chi
assists the elderly to mobilize their joints
without the risk of injury. Duh.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Massage: Pleasure & Pain

I took a real interest in massage when
I was about 12. My mom and I would
trade massages every evening. It was
a good deal that continued through
high school. When I graduated, my
seven-year old sister gave me a gift
certificate drawn in crayon, good for
one head rub.

In college, a girl in the dorms showed
me how to massage a hand. She said,
"doesn't that feel good when I work
all your fingers ?" She was right. So
began my exploration. I learned about
craniosacral massage from the radio;
a DJ talked about how effective it
is to gently massage the head using
only the weight of a nickel. Of course,
like all the techniques I list here, it
takes real training and know-how.

A couple years after college, I received
my first professional massage. I shocked
my masseuse when she walked in and
found me laying face down, naked, but
not under the sheet. I thought that's what
she told me to do. Oops. She later told me,
"your globes were smiling at me."

I started getting massage on a regular
basis. I recall my first Russian trigger
point massage. It's effective but just too
painful for me. I go to relax.

In Kansas City, a Chinese woman gave
me shiatsu with a towel. I loved it,
except she worked vigorously on my
stomach, which made me sick. When she
later omitted the visceral work, it was one
of the best I've ever had.

Not long after that, I was in Vegas for
my sister's wedding. I played three dollars
in a slot machine and won three hundred.
At the mall, I paid for a "water massage."
I laid down in something that looked like
a tanning bed, and received high-pressure
streams of water behind a rubber sheet.
It was so good that when I go to indoor
pools, I like to lay under the kiddie water
fall and let it pound on my back.

In 2002, I went to Thailand for almost a
month. On the second day, I learned that
a two-hour massage was a mere seven
dollars. I decided that was something I would
do every day. On the third day, my masseuse
asked if I wanted Thai massage. I gave it
a try. Turns out, it's like chiropractic
"cracking" for your whole body. She even
cracked my knees ! Although it's kind of
scary the first time, it does make you feel
really good--
except the time a little Thai girl bruised
my sternum. Okay, that's my warning.

I learned about Rolfing, but could never
bring myself to get it. Rolfing utilizes
strong manipulation to re-structure joints
and "properly" align the skeleton for
more efficient movement. Everyone I've
talked to said it's awesome, but awesomely
painful. Hmm. Not for me.

My mom became a Reiki Master, and gave
me a treatment or two. It's amazing how
well it works, considering she didn't even
touch me.

My favorite masseuse is named Mary and
she lives in Utah. Mary not only reads me
to know that I'm relaxed (because if it
hurts, you're not relaxed... Harriet--); but
Mary does lymph drainage therapy. Man
that's cool stuff. Mary can drain the lymph
nodes around my ankle, which takes down
any swelling and makes if feel awesome.

I had another massage in Northern Michigan
where the masseuse asked me if I wanted
biofeedback. I said, "sure, I'll try it." She
moved one finger around until it hit a tender
spot, let's say on my shoulder blade; when
I alerted her to it, she'd hold that spot and
start moving another finger around, let's say
my hip. When she hit another tender spot, she
would hold both, have me breath in deeply
and breath out. When she removed both
fingers, neither spot was tender. I thought
that was pretty cool too.

Which brings me to Tui Na. Chinese
Tui Na massage involves a whole range
of techniques such as reflexology of the
ears, hands and feet; all the way to the
chiropractic-like manipulation of Thai
massage. This blog was supposed to be
about Tui Na as the fourth branch of
Traditional Chinese Medicine--
but I felt it would be better to share all
that I've learned about the amazing
massage arts.


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chinese Herbs: Nutrition From Outer Space

Back in the days when I was a body-
builder, I thought about nutrition as
if my body were a race car or something
like that. My muscles were like the engine,
and they needed high-quality fuel to
move me around. I needed protein and
vitamins to repair broken-down parts.
I stayed away from sugar because it
just made me too heavy. I thought I was
doing a pretty good job because
"I looked good."

Chinese nutrition is far more complex
than that. Every food my teacher puts
into his mouth has some medicinal
benefit. Green onion for this and ginger
for that and squash does this and broccoli
does that. Always onion "for your health."

Americans eat what tastes good.
Chinese eat for their health.

I see some pretty weird stuff when
I'm with him. "Chicken feet is good
for your skin; eat it." The last time
I saw him, sifu had boiled eggs in
a strange mixture of herbs and let them
sit for days, turning the eggshells
a strange green color. When I asked--
his girlfriend said they were "female
herbs eggs," meaning for menstruation.

I was way over my head to write a blog
about Chinese herbs, so I called my
friend Holly Sparks in Tuscon to help me.
Holly says that what's first important is
that Chinese herbs are taken to correct
syndromes instead of symptoms. Women
in the west with hot flashes might take
black cohosh to help with that symptom.
But Holly says menopause is the syndrome
that requires a delicate balance of herbs,
carefully measured out for potency.

Typically, a Chinese doctor will assess a
patient by listening to three organs on each
wrist (sort of like taking a pulse); checking
the tongue, smelling the patient, and asking
questions about their temperature, cravings,
and lifestyle.

Cravings for salt have to do with the kidney.
Sour has to do with the liver; sweet has to
do with the spleen (or pancreas); bitter has
to do with the heart; and I've never heard of
a craving for metallic food, but those have to
do with the lungs.

Ginseng is one of the great power-herbs of the
earth. Westerners consider the carrot to be very
nutritious, and yet it only grows in temperate
climates with good soil and lots of water. On the
other hand, ginseng grows on the side of snowy
mountain and can take years to fully mature.
A comparative, randomized, double-blind study
at the National Autonomous University of Mexico
indicates it may be "a promising dietary supplement"
when assessed for an increase in quality of life.
But there are some different kinds of ginseng,
some of which can be dangerous. Holly says
the Red Panax ginseng is a "hot herb" specifically
for men, and probably to be taken in the winter.

Holly says JuHua (Yellow Chrysanthemum)
calms the liver, and helps sooth stress. HeShouWu
(Polygonum) works on the kidneys, and can
do things like prevent hair from turning gray.
Cordyceps is a fungus related to insect larvae that
offers great tonic for the lungs; it was virtually
unknown in the west until three Chinese athletes
broke five world track records in 1993 because
they were taking Cordyceps, not steroids.

You can consult your local Chinese doctor about
herbs and start learning about them online.
You can contact Holly in Tuscon at:

Monday, March 8, 2010

Acupuncture: Quit Crying and Try It...Twice

Around 1997, my mom came to visit me
in Denver. We both hated needles to
the Nth degree, but were curious about
acupuncture as "alternative medicine."
My first argument for both of us was that
it's incomparably older than any medicine
in the west. So we found an old Chinese
guy who said he was brought to the U.S
by Nixon himself and decided to give it a try.

I told him I was having neck and shoulder
pain; I think my mom was having headaches.
He took us into separate rooms, and asked
us to lay down. He was extremely gentle,
which I have found of all acupuncturists since
that time. I told him I hated needles so he
showed it to me. It was wrapped sterilely,
and thin-as-a-hair when he took it out.
He laid me on my side, and worked quickly,
plinking in seven needles from my neck
down to my forearm. When he put one close
to my elbow, I experienced something strange
in my next breath. He told me to hold still
and relax deeply. I giggled for the next 20-
minutes, laughing at the site of needles in
my skin (I really hated needles).

After he took them out, I felt better. So did
Mom. We went back for a second treatment
(understand that it takes at least two), and
my neck pain was gone for at least two months.
You can do it too. It's SO worth it. They
can even give you needles for weight loss.

While some western researchers acclaim its
effectiveness for some ailments, others claim
it's just the placebo effect. "Chi" energy has
not been reconciled with western medicine,
and there is no supporting evidence of the
"meridians" or channels in which the chi flows.

But if you skip a meal, you feel less energy.
If work hard all day, you know you have
expended energy because you have little left.
Conversely, if you feel excited about something,
you feel a high level of energy.

Also, everyone knows that brain waves are
pulses of electrical energy. Muscle motor
units fire when the brain sends electrical
impulses along sodium chains in the body.
Our blood contains iron, which is conductive.
We have a measurable electromagnetic

There are all kinds of evidence of "energy"
in our bodies; the problem is that acupuncture
is "based on a pre-scientific paradigm of medicine
that developed over several thousand years and
involves concepts that have no counterpart within
contemporary medicine."

But as we say in the States,
"The proof is in the puddin'."
Forget your fear of needles and go try it.
You will be shocked at how well it works.

A few suggestions:
1. I like Chinese doctors. Other ethnicities
can learn and administer needles, but the
Chinese invented it.
2. Acupuncture should not cost $100.
I think $25-45 is typical, with a slightly
higher initial consultation. Also, check
your insurance; it might be covered.
3. My Chinese doctor also employs the
use of an infrared lamp. It warms the
needles and feels really good.
4. If you're tough, and really need strong
medicine, they can hook the needles up
to electric charge, and/or use bigger needles.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Tai Chi: Panacea Means "Cure-All"

Of the four branches of Chinese medicine,
I begin with the Chi Kung (Qi Gong) branch
because it is my specialty. In 2003, I began
learning under Grandmaster Victor Sheng Long Fu.
In that time, I have spent well over $30,000,
read & studied texts voraciously, and
practiced, practiced, practiced my brains out.
At different periods, I practiced more than
six hours a day. I've made a lot of progress :)

Kung Fu simply means "extensive practice."
Chi Kung means "energy practice." There are
10,000 kinds of Qi Gong; but essentially,
Qi Gong is an inward focus on posture and
breathing. Mostly it requires movement, but
sometimes it's just "standing," or holding a
special position. The Shaolin monks even
practice "Iron Qi Gong," which hardens their
bodies almost unbelievably. I personally
invite you to check out Iron Qi Gong on
YouTube.com, but I beg you not to read about
Qi Gong on Wikipedia (it's a train wreck,
clustered with controversy and hyperbole).

The most important and developed forms of
Qi Gong are the internal martial arts such as
Tai Chi and BaGuaZhang. Do not shy away
from them because they're related to "fighting."
Energy practice of this kind is the most powerful
means to optimize your health. As my teacher's
father, Fu Wing Fay, once said,
"Tai Chi Chuan is a kind of profound art where
you use your intent (mind) and not your strength.
Therefore Tai Chi should not be looked upon as
any kind of martial art. To look at it as such
would deprive it of its art value and its
philosophical foundation."

The practice of Tai Chi fixes the entire body.
It mobilizes the joints and stretches them in all
three planes, enabling far greater balance and
mobility. The waist turning principle of Tai Chi
massages the internal organs, while the slow,
uber-relaxing movements ward-off stress and
soothe the mind. The postural practice 
emphasizes moving the body weight onto the
bones and connective tissue instead of the muscles.
This in turn stresses and twists the bones, which
stimulates the immune system (white blood cells
are produced in the bone marrow). The deep
breathing technique called "Taoist Breathing"
does such amazing and wonderful things for
the body that I still have yet to understand them.

All told, proper practice of Tai Chi will repair
damaged joints, boost all aspects of athleticism
and keep you from getting sick. If you go find
the list of ailments that people claim Tai Chi
can fix, you will start to believe it's the panacea
(cure-all) the world has been searching for.

To start practicing your chi-energy: