Tai Chi Therapy

OVERVIEW

The brain and spinal cord together make up the central nervous system. A misaligned or crooked spine affects the spinal cord and can subsequently lead to many health problems. Back pain is a problem in Australia. “Walker, Muller and Grant 2003” states that lower back pain is a burden to the Australian economy (total impact is $9.2 Billion p.a.)[1]. The Chiropactors’ Association of Australia promotes massage as a safer and more effective way to treat back/neck pain than taking medicine[2].

However, the success rate of surgery, medicine and traditional massage therapy in treating spinal injury is low. To address this issue, the author developed a special massage therapy, called Dragon Motion Therapy, to treat spinal injuries and to help patients achieve a better quality of life. The main therapeutic benefits associated with this holistic approach are listed below:

• readjust the spine close to its optimal alignment

• improve blood circulation and strengthen the immune system

• increase internal energy level and reduce chronic fatigue

• relieve muscle tension and back pain

• reduce excessive body fats and waist line

• remove toxins and wastes accumulated in the body


[1] Walker BF, Muller R, Grant WD, 2003, p79-89,  “Low back pain in Australian adults: the economic burden”.

[2] http://chiropractors.asn.au/AM/Template.cfm?Section=FAQ

The structure of this paper is as follows:

  1. Taoism and its historical backround
  2. Importance of the spine
  3. What is Dragon Motion Therapy?
  4. How Dragon Motion Therapy works
  5. Examples of successful treatment of patients
  6. Qigong
  7. Information about the author (Master William Ho)
  8. Conclusion

A .Taoism and its historical backround

Taoism is one of the main religions in China and it originated around 4000BC. The question of Taoism is the “Yin Yang”, comprising of a circle with an S-shaped line dividing the white (yang) and black (yin) halves.

The core of Taoism is “Dao” (the way). It is said that Dao is the origin of the universe. Another pillar of Taoism is “De” (the concept of virtue). The holy book of Taoism is the “Dao De Jing”, which preaches the principles of non-action, non-passion and non-desire, non-struggle, and the pursuit of simplicity and truth[1]. Taoists believe in the harmonious coexistence between humans and nature, keeping fit and healthy.

The Taoist ideologies have guidances on everything. There have been many Taoist practitioners who eventually became well known servicement at all social levels, from civilians to the big figures such as state, political and economical domains. For instance, the origination and the development of traditional Chinese medicine, military art of war, cosmetic science, education, publicity culture, domestic ethics and moral behaviours for existence in society are all permeated with Taoist theories.

Taoism has long influenced China’s philosophy, literature, arts, medicine and science. E.g. Tai chi and Ba gua has its origins in Taoism. The Wudang Mountains in central China are the most sacred mountains of Taoism and it was here that Tai chi was invented. Also, there is a folk saying which says: “nine out of ten Taoists are doctors”.

B. Importance of the spine

All of our limbs, torso and organs are controlled by the nervous system, which is an extension of our spine. If the transmission of our nervous signals is interrupted, the functions of our organs and body mechanics would be affected. This could also cause pain and numbness in the body. Our overall health would also be affected in the long term, causing a compromise in our immune system and hence affecting our natural healing abilities. These negative effects may not seem noticeable at a young age, but at ages 50 and above, various types of illnesses will occur because of the damage done to the spine.

Sporting injuries, driving accidents, or improper postures in working environments can result in pressuring our vertebra. When the spine is under tension, the nerves along the spine are also pressured, causing pain. Subsequently, our body shape could also be distorted, resulting in bad posture. This then leads to both long term physical pain and mental distress.

Furthermore, certain type of acute injuries and chronic fatigue damages to the body is unavoidable in a person’s lifetime. The results would be structural shifting at spinal joints and vertebrates, the consequence is that the nerves which support internal organs come under simulative pressure, this situation can be one cause to solicit heart diseases, diabetes and a variety of illnesses associated with the inner body such as digestive system disorder etc. internal diseases. The shifting on the spine or other joints basically produces abnormal pressure and tension etc symptoms that are harmful stimulus acted on the bottom of the nerves, then the nerve signals would be transferred layer by layer to the internal organs, “Disorder Command” could cause a variety of illnesses with all internal organs.

For example, a shift at the joint of cervical spine and upper thoracic vertebrate may stimulates sympathetic nerve, which tends to break up the balance between sympathetic nerve and parasympathetic nerve, possibly making heart pulse being out of order, or even a worse situation for angina spasm of coronary heart disease, however there have been no effective methods at the moment to cure up frequent outbreaks of this type of heart disease through normal meditation process. In addition, shift occurring at different interval of a spine would stimulate different nerve, possibly leading to the results as cervicogenic migraine headache, blur vision, cancer of the alimentary canal, diabetes and even a state of sterility for women etc.

In the 1920s, Dr Henry Winsor carried out autopsies to determine whether there was any connection between distortions of the vertebra and diseased organs. Winsor examined diseased organs, the nerves that supplied them and the vertebra that protected the nerve. His conclusion was that spinal distortions will cause functional changes to the respective organs linked to a particular nerve and nearly 100% of organ disease may result from an irritation or interference to the nerve that supplies it. This irritation or interference is located where the nerve exits the vertebra[1].


[1] http://www.thechiropractor.com.au/latest-news-articles/the-windsor-autopsies/

C. What is Dragon Motion Therapy ?

The physiotherapy massage of traditional Chinese medicine, passed down over several thousand years, is a complete system and been well regarded around the world from ancient times to the present. Chinese remedial massage, also known as tui na, has been practiced extensively in China for over 2000 years. As an integral part of traditional Chinese medicine, tui an follows the Chinese medical theory of “qi” (energy) and Taoist principles to assist in the treatment of a wide range of health related conditions. Through the application of special massage techniques, tui na seeks to establish a more harmonious flow of qi though the meridian system, facilitating the body to restore balance and heal itself.

There is always a set of physiotherapy massage techniques for traumatic treatment among the major kung fu schools of Chinese traditional martial arts professionals, they have been used as instant medical treatment for occasions when disciples are injured in their exercises or wounded in combat practices with other fellows. The creation of a methodology (including herb medication) for medical treatment is a traumatic-orthopedic treatment system which must be possessed by every high standard school. Unexpected injury to the body can occur often when practicing martial arts. A kung fu master would not be able to maintain his or her career teaching kung fu if the injured students are always sent to the doctor.

Taoist Wudang kung fu owns a set of unique techniques for physiotherapy treatment of traumatic-orthopedic injuries different from standard methods. This is because Taoist Wudang kung fu physiotherapy treatment uses one’s real experiences gained from the practice of Tai chi and Ba gua kung fu. The practice of Tai chi and Ba gua kung fu creates a body condition of softness and elasticity. The continuous practice of Tai Chi Push Hands, combat practices and experiences in handling combat injuries all help in developing the unique techniques in treating injuries. In addition, all knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine in traumatology and orthopaedics encompassing pathology, pharmacy, physiology, somatology, anatomy, and clinical experience of medical treatment, as well as the above combat experiences provide one with the qualities of a Taoist tui na expert.

The practice of Tai chi & Ba gua kung fu creates a soft and elastic force which can only be attained through long periods of training. Also, it will develop the hand techniques of round path tui na massage which is effective in relieving pains of an injured person. On the other hand, if harsh force is used, it will not be effective in treating the injury. For injuries which have been left untreated for a long time such as arthroses at the bone joints and veins in the muscles, could harden and block the circulation of blood and energy. This would cause numbness or pain. These old injuries are difficult to treat.

Tui na is a powerful extension to western medical practice for treating specific musculoskeletal disorders (e.g. joint injuries and back pain) and chronic stress-related disorders of the digestive, respiratory and reproductive systems. Regular tui na sessions not only improve patient’s blood circulation and energy level, but also help to alleviate unnecessary tension in the body through realigning their musculoskeletal and ligmentous relationships.

Tui na can effectively realign the body structure. It is more effective than chiropractic treatment. It can recover damages to the spine that has been sustained for long periods of time. The massage firstly realigns the spine to its proper position, to improve body posture. It can also reduce excess body weight and maintain a healthy weight. Besides, it can increase internal energy and strengthen the body.

The Taoist vertebra healing practice is based on the essence of traditional Chinese medicine theories. The Taoist tui na massage is based on gentleness and naturalness. The tui na massage techniques come from the long term practice of Tai Chi Push Hands. Tai Chi Push Hands involves “listening” and “sensitivity”. Practicing tai chi continuously will develop gentle yet elastic power. It will also develop lightness and flexibility of the body. During tui na massage, it is important to ensure that the patient is relaxed psychologically and calmed. Also, the muscles and joints have to be relaxed.

In principle, when practicing the Soft Dragon Qigong and Tai chi and Ba gua kung fu, an even balancing of all revolving limbs of the body is achieved. While all twisted and deflexed ligaments on muscles and joints of backbones can return to their original positions. Likewise, the suppressed nerves will be relieved and illnesses caused by suppressed nerves can be cured.

For more than 10 years in Sydney, the author has been practicing traditional Chinese Tui na massage based on the theories of traditional Chinese medicine. Based on my many years of experience and results of my patients, I found using the traditional Taoist method of tui na more effective than chiropractic treatment in realigning the spine. I had many young patients who have tried western methods before trying traditional Chinese methods. Many of them had been told that their condition is permanent and not advised to work in jobs with high physical labour. However, the misalignment in the spine still caused pain and was affecting their daily lives. After traditional tui na treatment and the practice of Soft Dragon Qigong as well as Tai chi and Ba gua martial art, their conditions started to improve. First of all, the pain gradually disappeared, the vertebra slowly realigned to its proper position and their postures improved.

By combining traditional Chinese medicine with his Taoist kung fu, the author developed an advanced massage therapy. It is called Dragon Motion Therapy. Using this unique massage therapy, his patients have a higher success rate in recovering from spinal injury and/or back pain. A good tui na practitioner would:

• have at least 10 years’ experience

• have Traditional Chinese Medicine knowledge

• have human biology knowledge (position of muscles, joints and the meridians)

• know Taoist kung fu (advanced level tui na)

• have Personal experience in treating personal injuries (ideal)

• teach their patients qigong

D. How Dragon Motion Therapy works

A typical therapy session with the author would involve firstly applying Chinese medicine wine to the affected area and then a massage to slowly re-align the spine. The patient would also be taught Tai chi, so that he/she can practice in his/her spare time. Through the combination of internal and external treatment, old injuries would heal.

The author has a few cases of medical treatment which indicates it may take only about ten minutes to bring diaphysis into effect for normal arthrosis shift and muscle wrick. The accessory physiotherapy were used to cure the wounded area by special medicated preserved wine with herbs and natural nutritional ingredients, resulting in recovery to normal functioning in only a few days (after 1-2 massage sessions).

The application of this special revolving technique in tui na massage would produce a unique effect. As to the parts of limbs such as a joint where there are sore muscles and veins that are out of position due to injury, applying this type of special revolving technique can revert them to their original positions. There have been a few cases where I have treated dislocated and twisted joint by using this technique, the recovery effect is 50% faster than under normal medical treatment. The reason is simple, firstly the wounded area is applied a special medicinal wine to enhance the circulation of blood and vital energy. This is to reduce swelling and pain. Then, the wounded area is treated with a special tui na technique to revert any dislocations. The patient can then recover quickly.

The next section gives examples where the author coached various patients back to full health, by using the combination of external and external methods (tui na and practise of Tai chi & Ba gua kung fu). Not only do they master Tai chi & Ba gua kung fu, but their lasting injuries are also cured after a few years.

E. Examples of successful treatment of patients

It can be said that Chinese remedial massage is more effective than chiropractic treatment, especially for the treatment of long term sustained damages on the vertebrate spine or spinal column. Master Ho’s Dragon Motion Therapy basically combines the techniques of Chinese remedial massage and qigong (Soft Dragon Qigong and practicing of Tai chi and Ba gua kung fu). Pain can be relieved to a state of no pain, and the deflected acantha could gradually be adjusted to a normal vertical position, and even an imbalance body posture could be corrected.

Ken

20 years ago, Ken came to Australia for studied at university and worked as part-time job. After a few years, he had a shoulder injury and regularly suffered back pain. A doctor’s assessment determined that the pain was due to a misaligned spine, which applied undue pressure to his spinal cord. After graduating from university, he worked in the IT industry and his back pain transformed into headaches.

10 years ago, he joined Master Ho’s Tai chi classes and practise Ba gua. A few years later, the pain lessened and eventually has gone.

Now, he is happily married and had two sons (aged seven and six). Both of them are also Master Ho’s students. Even though two boys are skinny than their classmates, they are able to look after themselves and do not get bullied at school.

Cieran and Caren

15 years ago, a young couple joined my Tai chi class. They both looked healthy. However, the male suffered from diabetes, gout and dietary at seafood, beans/legumes and many other types of food, including tea. His wife had previously miscarried twice. In the first year of met them, his wife had another miscarriage. In the second year, they gave birth of a boy – sadly, the baby passed away within a month.

The couple had consulted many different doctors on their condition, with no success. They decided to try Chinese medicine and Chinese massage, which can cleanse unhealthy genes from the body. After a few years, they successfully gave birth to a baby boy. He is a healthy boy age of 7.

Mr Tran

In May 2011, a male patient came to see me. He complained that his spinal displacement had caused pain in his back and legs for 10 years. He had neck/hip surgery to treat his spine twice. However, it didn’t help his condition. In recent years, his condition worsened and his body became visibly crooked. Even though he was 59, he looked much older than he was.

At the end of 2010, his doctor recommended that he undergo a third operation, but the chance of success was hard to confirm. As a patient he had had bad experiences from his previous two operations, and one week before his third operation, he decided to cancel it.

At the same time he came to see the author to try Chinese Remedial Massage. Within one week his pain had lessened. Within a month he was able to walk properly, he told the author that, “if the doctor gets me to do the operation, I will tell the doctor I don’t need to do” He was on a waiting list. Later on he no longer suffered depression and his body was less crooked. Hi pain improved due to treatment. Now the patient is able to travel for holidays by air and sea.

Jane

In a car accident 30 years ago, Jane injured her neck and hips. After more than 10 years of trying different treatments, she had not fully recovered. She regularly suffered headaches, back pain and numbness in her legs and could not sleep at night. As a result, she was unable go to work.

15 years ago, Jane met Master Ho and underwent Dragon Motion Therapy. She also learnt Tai chi and Ba gua from Master Ho.

Now, the pain in her body has recover and her health is getting better than before, it was 20 years ago. These days, Jane promotes Tai chi as a “must do” exercise to her family and friends. She also regularly teaches Tai chi in nursing homes.

Kenny

In his teenage years, Kenny was a ballet dancer. One day during rehersal, as he was lifting up his dance partner, he accidently twisted his back. After more than 10 years passed, his back still did not fully heal. In his 20s, his doctor concluded that he should not do any strenuous work ever. At that time, Kenny’s health was bad and he was depressed.

14 years ago, Kenny met Master Ho and became his student.

Kenny’s health has greatly improved and he is now a part-time Tai chi teacher.

Carmel

Carmel has an unfortunate childhood. From a young age, her spine was a bit different compared to other girls. In his teenage years, she underwent a few major surgeries in an attempt to fix her entire spine. It was not successful and in her 20s, she still had not completed the normal puberty process. She had a crooked back and suffered from regular back pain.

About 10 years ago, Carmel joined Master Ho’s Tai chi classes. Master Ho treated her like a daughter and under his care, her health slowly improved. After a few years, she was like any other normal woman and decided to marry her boyfriend. One year later, she gave birth to a health and beautiful baby girl.

She is now a happy and healthy mother and when her daughter grows up, she intends to send her to study under Master Ho. In 2012, she gave birth to her second child (a boy).

Sean

Sean is a martial artist. Starting from a young age, he learnt many styles of martial art, especially “hard/external” styles. One of his leg training drills involves tying heavy weights to his feet and jumping as high as he can. In his 20s, he suffered serious joint problems in both knees. The pain was so intense that he could no longer train in his beloved martial arts.

Five years ago, he joined Master Ho’s Tai chi classes and studied Taoism and Tai chi. After two years, a miracle happened and both his knees healed and the pain greatly reduced.

Now, Sean has resumed his martial arts training, but only in Taoist kung fu (Tai chi and Ba gua). He made a promise to never train in “hard/external” style martial arts ever again.

F. Qigong

Wikipedia defines qigong as “the Chinese philosophy and practice of aligning breath, physical activity and awareness for mental, spiritual and corporeal health, as well as the development of human potential”.

“Ming Men Qigong” is a special type of tai chi developed by grandmaster William Ho. It follows the ancient Taoist principle of focusing the mind at the “Ming Men”. The Ming Men is located between the second and third lumbar vertebrae, just beneath the two kidneys and opposite the navel. Long term practitioners will enjoy the benefits of healthy weight, slower aging process and a stronger internal body.

Preparation for starting Ming Men Qigong

If standing, put your body weight on the “Yong Quan” acupoints on the soles of the feet. Become aware of the Ming Men and keep the spine straight and relaxed. If sitting, sit at the edge of the chair, so that you have space behind your back (20 cm) and be aware of the “Yong Quan” acupoints on both feet. Relax the skin on your entire body by focusing your awareness on your skin.

The practice begins at the nostrils. Use your awareness to listen to your breath as you breathe in through your nose. Do not burden your mind with having to get it right or perfect or by concentrating too hard – this burdens the mind and tightens the breathing. Once again, RELAX.

1. Rest the tongue on the soft pallet behind the upper teeth while focusing your attention on the nose. Breathe in slowly, still listening, whilst moving your attention from the nose down over the tongue in the centre of the throat. Listening is a technique to increase the awareness wherever you focus your attention. Imagine your skin absorbing air (qi) in conjunction with the in breath, which also gets drawn down to the Ming Men.

2. Think of swallowing water at this point and shift your attention downwards. Gently lower your head a couple of centimetres as if you are helping the breath on its way down and also moving the qi, absorbed through the skin, down as well.

3. As the breath continues down, just above the solar plexus and 5cm in, begin tucking your tail bone under. This will cause the lower back to curve outwards. Your body weight will now begin to move back more onto your heels, as the skin breathing continues.

4. Think of the Ming Men as a vacuum pump. When your mind is behind the solar plexus area, the qi gets drawn down towards the Ming Men and on the way, it divides, flowing through both kidneys and arriving at the Ming Men. Approximately 80% of the body’s weight will now be on both heels, with the knees slightly bent.

5. Here the tail bone tucks under further and if standing, your body sinks down. Now, the weight is fully on the heels and you should still be breathing in and listening. If you are sitting, tuck the tail bone under and lean back 15-20 centimetres, but do not let the upper back collapse. Imagine the head as a balloon, light as a feather, with a desire to float upwards.

6. After the tail bone, move the qi to the perineum.

7. A. for females, to move the qi to the womb, by slightly contracting the perineum and imagining the Ming Men as a vacuum pump, drawing energy back to itself. Here, the in breath and skin inhalation finishes and the body weight would be centred on the Yong Quan acupoints and the body is rising.

7. B for males, to move the qi from the perineum into the testes. Here, the in breath and skin inhalation finishes and the body weight would be centred on the Yong Quan acupoints and the body is rising.

8. Relax your concentration and your tongue. Slightly open the mouth and breathe out. As your body continues to rise, visualize the energy leaving the Ming Men and travelling down your back down and down the back of your legs. With relaxation, the qi now also exits through the skin.

9. as you continue to breathe out, focus the mind up the spine, up the back of the head to the crown of the head and release the qi out of the crown. As you do this, keep your mind relaxed within yourself. At this point, the body is erect, with the knees slightly bent.

The diagram below illustrates the 9 steps in one cycle of Ming Men Qigong.

Things to note:

* A breath takes about 6-10 seconds.

* All the imagery will be felt physically once the qi builds.

* Slight discomfort may be felt at first. With practice, the body loosens up and attains comfort. It is a type of internal self-massage.

* If old memories, feelings, discomfort resurface, relax and let them go.

* think of your whole body moving like a jellyfish, especially the spine, which should be flexible and moving like the mythical dragon’s spine.

* “Yin” (in)

* “Yang” (out)

In essence, qigong is basically natural deep breathing to supply oxygen to the body. It should not be seen as a mysterious art. The equivalent of qigong in western medicine is oxygen therapy. But, oxygen therapy is expensive and unnatural.

G. About the author

Master Ho is a Taoist and a 3rd generation Chinese kung fu master, with over 50 years’ experience in teaching martial arts. He specializes in Tai chi, Ba Gua and qigong.

Master Ho is also certified Chinese Remedial Massage Therapist and his massage sessions are covered by private health insurance:

* Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture Society of Australia (member number # 0704)

* Association of Massage Therapists (member number # 1-5069)

Contact details are:

Ph: +61 02 9638 4559

Mob: 0417 275 325

Email: taoistkungfu@yahoo.com.au or ho.william.h@gmail.com

Website: www.taoistkungfu.org

Address: 2/558 Victoria road, Ermington NSW 2115 Australia

H. Conclusion

A healthy spine, regular exercise and a good diet are the keys to a healthy body.

Source

  1. Walker BF, Muller R, Grant WD.

“Low back pain in Australian adults: the economic burden”.

Asia Pac J Public Health. 2003;15(2):79-87.

SourceSchool of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia. spine@optusnet.com.au)

  1. The Chiropactors’ Association of Australia website http://chiropractors.asn.au/AM/Template.cfm?Section=FAQ
  1. A General Introduction to Taoism in China tcmdiscovery.com/culture/soft/UploadFile/…8/200982222263489737.pdf
  1. http://www.thechiropractor.com.au/latest-news-articles/the-windsor-autopsies/
  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qigong