Tag Archives: Taijiquan

Interview with Bill Douglas: founder of World Tai Chi & Qi Gong Day

You might already know, that World Tai Chi & Qi Gong Day is every last Saturday in April. (if you don’t know, read this article about the World Tai Chi Day!). This year it will be celebrated on April 29th, 2017. And I just wanted to know more about that day, so I talked to the initiator: Bill Douglas.

Could you please tell us a bit more about yourself?

Bill Douglas - founder of World Tai Chi & Qi Gong Day

Bill Douglas

I live in Kansas City (USA), which is where the very first mass Tai Chi & Qigong event – that would spark World Tai Chi & Qigong Day – was held.

I began studying Tai Chi and Qigong 40 years ago when I lived in Southern California. Today I teach Tai Chi Meditation for major medical centers mostly, including the University of Kansas Hospital and Kansas University Medical Center, but also for major corporations etc.

I know some people learn Tai Chi and Qi Gong for the first time when they stumble across the World Tai Chi Day in a nearby park. How did you get into these Chinese arts?

Angela Wong Douglas practicing Tai Chi

Angela Wong Douglas

I grew up in a small German settlement in Western Kansas (USA) called Ellis, Kansas. Then after leaving college, where I married Angela Wong, she wanted to move to California “so she could eat real Chinese food again”. So we packed up and moved from my small town in Kansas to Los Angeles, California.

The stress of big city life drove me to find a Tai Chi class, because I was told Tai Chi was good for stress problems.

I never planned to teach Tai Chi. But years later my mother went in for heart surgery, and apparently had a premonition that she was not going to survive the procedure. Because she left me a note in a book (The Tao te Ching) I had left with her when I visited her the night before the procedure. The note read: “I wish I could go back a few years and learn the arts of relaxation Jr. had tried to teach me. I would have so loved to see my grandchildren grow up.”

I think this played a huge role in my eventually becoming a professional Tai Chi teacher. And in many ways in eventually founding World Tai Chi & Qigong Day.

The first World Tai Chi and Qi Gong Day took place in 1999. How did it all start?

Two answers to how it all started, one universal and ethereal, the other immediate and physical.

ON AN ETHEREAL LEVEL: I think, personally, although some might disagree, that the formation of World Tai Chi & Qigong Day began 36 years before 1999. When I was 6 years old, an angel came to me in the night.

The angel flew me across our town and sat me down in an alley between our Lutheran Church and my Sunday School … and it gave me “breathing lessons.” It taught me how to do Qigong breaths, not calling it Qigong but that’s what it was.

Each time I took a breath and let go, relaxing the breath out … I began to feel lighter, less burdened … and I began to lift up off the ground. By the end of the lesson, the angel had taught me how to fly in big looping circles up towards the moon and back down to the ground.

For 54 years now, I still remember that lesson like it happened last night. A lot was packed in that lesson, not just the Qigong breathing, but a bigger lesson that took me a lifetime to figure out. The flying lesson had been a metaphor for something greater and larger.

I realized over time that the Sunday School had represented our Physical, Yang, Linear, Left-Brain way of moving in the world … while the Church represented our Yin, our ethereal, what some might call our spiritual nature, the unseen.

The angel’s lesson was meant to show me that “the breath” is what can connect our “physical world” with our higher ethereal world.  This balance is sorely needed in the world.  This is not religious, it is spiritual, and scientific as well, as I’ll touch on below.

The word Nirvana, in Sanskrit, means “to exhale.”  When we exhale, we “let go.” When we let go, we open to larger realities. All humanity’s greatest minds practiced meditation, spiritual and scientific: Einstein, Steve Jobbs, Da Vinci, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Michael Angelo, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, etc.

Scientific research on how mind-body meditative practices affect the brain and how it functions, literally show physically transforming  it to be clearer, more efficient, more compassionate, less fearful. These are traits humanity needs now more than at any time in human history.

We as Tai Chi and Qigong Meditation enthusiasts are treasures to our world, here now for a reason.

ON AN IMMEDIATE LEVEL: In 1998 I became frustrated, because in my hospital classes I was seeing students, many of them health professionals, getting stunning health benefits from Tai Chi Meditation classes. The medical professionals were so stunned they began scanning the hospital database to find medical research on Tai Chi which was validating the benefits they were getting from my classes.

What frustrated me, was when I sent these studies to the media the media ignored them, even though millions of Americans suffered from health issues Tai Chi was proven to help with.

So, my wife and I decided to create a mass public spectacle that was so visually engaging the media could not resist covering it. And when we got the microphone we would use it to tell the public about medical research showing how Tai Chi could help them and their loved ones.

We worked for months to get as many Tai Chi enthusiasts as we could to show up at a huge art museum in Kansas City. And spent months alerting the media over and over again that this event would happen: a mass Tai Chi exhibition in a public square all could attend.

The day we arrived, there was no one there. My heart stopped. I remember hoping the media would not arrive and see this huge failure.

Then, people started walking in from all directions, and soon 200 people were there to do Tai Chi together. The media showed up, lots of them.

That afternoon one of my assistant teachers called me and said, “We were on CNN today!”  Apparently one of the local TV channels that covered the event got picked up by CNN News, and we began getting contacted by other Tai Chi and Qigong groups in other cities and countries.

So, we went online to see if “WorldTaiChiDay.org” was available, and it was.  And it spread rapidly from there, and my wife and I struggled for 17 years to keep up with the event as it got bigger and bigger, investing our life savings in creating this mass global event.

When was the first time that you thought: wow, this is a truly global event, an international Tai Chi day?

It happened very quickly.  See this South China Morning Post interview from the year 2000.

You live in the US, but celebrations are held now in over 80 countries.  Have you been to other countries to participate a local World Tai Chi Day?

Yes. We were the official guests of the Brazilian government in 2009 when they incorporated World Tai Chi Day into their nation’s capitol’s 40th Anniversary celebration. Master Woo and Professor Jose Milton Olivera made that happen.  They recently got a Brazilian government proceeding to open with a Qigong exercise (see this video). This has been our vision for 17 years, to eventually see every government meeting, every court proceeding, every United Nations meeting open with a mind and heart clarifying Qigong practice. It would change the world.

In 2011 we were the guests of an Australian Tai Chi organization headed by Bev Abela, as well as guests of the Perth, Australia Council.  The event was held on Aboriginal ground, and was opened by an Australian Aborigine man with a sacred Aboriginal dance.

In 2018 we hope to be the guests of either the Cameroon government or Egyptian government in Africa. And we have had interest by an Iranian group who hopes to get us flown to Iran for a future WTCQD event one day.

Many years ago we were also the guests of the group in Los Angeles, California for their World Tai Chi & Qigong Day event.

As far as I know, the World Tai Chi Day is not that popular in China yet. What do you think, when will the Chinese start celebrating it, too?

The first massive World Tai Chi Day event was held in Hong Kong, which is now China, and some small events have been held in various Chinese cities.

It may never be celebrated in China on a massive scale, because most of what is celebrated in China must originate in China. However, China has created an “International Tai Chi Day” held in April, not on World Tai Chi Day though. But, we think we may have inspired them to do this, and one day hope to get China to declare April “World Tai Chi Month”. And that could connect the global event we created with the day China has created.

It was interesting that the motto for the China Olympics was “One World … One Dream,” which made us really excited, because as you know, for 17 years World Tai Chi Day’s motto has been “One World … One Breath.”  Did we influence them? Who knows, but it’s a fun thing to ponder. We do know that our early use of the internet to create a mass global event has been followed by many other groups doing similar things over these nearly 2 decades.

I think when we expand our mind, it causes a rent in the fabric of reality that enables other things to follow in your wake.

The motto on the official T-Shirts is “One World … One Breath”. Why did you choose that?

My father, like many of our fathers, was damaged by war. In fact, one of the things that drove me to Tai Chi was not just the stress of big city life, but also when my children were born and the PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) of my father and my childhood came back to haunt me.

My father was a unique man. He never hated the soldiers he fought. He told me, “I always felt like they were caught up in the same machine I was caught up in.”

Over the years, as I began to see these photos and videos people sent us each year from all around the world. bI began to see “that look” – that same look we all get on our faces when we experience the Qi, the life force relaxing through us as we flow through our Tai Chi and Qigong.

When you see that same look on people’s faces, all colors, all races, all religions, you cannot help but be struck by the commonality of humanity. The fact that we are “One World … One Breath.”

Each year when I see people all over the planet coming together to breathe together, to play together, I wish that my father were here to see this, a world so different than his world. I would have loved to see his reaction.

Some people think we are here to replicate our parent’s lives. I think we are here to dream a “new” world.

Thank you, Bill Douglas, for the interview! And I totally agree: people practicing Taijiquan and Qi Gong do have the same look on their face!


 

Now please save the date: the next World Tai Chi & Qi Gong Day is on April 27th, 2017! To find events close to you, have a look at the official homepage: WorldTaiChiDay.org.

If you are a teacher, you could even plan your own event or come together with other teachers in your area! It is a good way to promote Tai Chi for beginners. And don’t forget to tell the local media about it. Let’s spread the news about Tai Chi and Qi Gong all over the world!

Happy Qi!

Angelika

 

P.S.: I haven’t read it yet, but Bill Douglas told me that you can read more about his Tai Chi World in his book The Tao of Tai Chi: The Making of a New Science: One Man’s amazing 55 year journey from an angel in Kansas to a Taoist Temple in Hong Kong, which inspired a quest involving the entire planet.

 

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The most interesting Cheng Manching videos

There are a lot of Cheng Manching videos on Youtube. However, I found that they often show the same video only with different music or voice in it.

(If you don’t know who Cheng Manching is: It is said that Cheng Manching (also Zheng Manqing, student of Yang Chengfu) is the one who brought Taijiquan to the West. He moved to New York in 1964 and taught intensely until his death in 1975. Some of his students are still alive and actively promoting his Tai Chi in the USA and all around the world.)

In the videos below you will not only find Cheng Manching showing the 37 form or his sword form, but there are also videos from his Tai Chi classes as well as interviews with some of his students.

Cheng Manching 37 form videos

This is Cheng Manching showing his 37 postures form.

In this video, the 37 form is shown mirrored:

Then there is one more interesting form video (which I cannot embed). It seems to be a video from 1955.

Cheng Manching classes

Luckily, some of the classes were filmed. So even after all the years we can get an impression of the studio in New York. These are three videos of beginner classes and a video about body position:

The next one is with form instructions. This video is from The Master Tapes, which is a Cheng Manching DVD set with more than four hours of Cheng Manching pushing hands, teaching, fencing, laughing, and telling stories – filmed in the early 1970s. If you are interested, it is currently not available at Amazon but I think you can order them still here.

Cheng Manching sword videos

Cheng Manching’s weapon of choice was the sword. Thus there are some really interesting Tai Chi sword videos. This one includes the Chinese names of the sword form!

And there are even sword videos including his students.

 

Cheng Manching Push Hands & Applications

What I find the most interesting are the push hands videos. I mean, I really wish I could have been there and do Tuishou with Cheng Manching!

 

Interviews with Cheng Manching students

Cheng Manching had many students in New York and Taiwan, some of them are very known for Taijiquan themselves. I’ve found these three videos with Robert Smith, William C.C. Chen and Ken VanSickle:

Other Cheng Manching videos

In this next video, Cheng Manching talks about Qi:

And now comes a really unusual thing: Katy Cheng (Cheng Manching’s daughter) sings a song about the Tai Chi principles (she starts talking at 1:19):

If you’re still hungry for Cheng Manching videos, I really recommend this documentary:

I enjoyed watching it, especially as it shows old footages and a lot of Cheng Manching students have been interviewed for this movie. Have a look at the trailer:

If you want to know more about the Cheng Manching movie, I actually had the chance to interview the director Barry Strugatz.

Happy Qi!

Angelika

 

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Big International Qi Gong & Taijiquan Events 2017

I just love to connect with Taijiquan & Qi Gong enthusiasts all around the world. That’s actually the reason why I write my blog in English even

Sommerakademie Altenrode 2015: Teilnehmer unter Bäumen

Sommerakademie 2015 (by Loni Liebermann)

though my mothertongue is German. And I have to admit that I have never been to a conference or big push hands meeting, but I would really like to go to such an event. And there are so many Qi Gong & Taijiquan Events 2017!

I am sure you can find many more events, meetings, workshops etc. But I wanted to concentrate on the BIG international meetings and conferences. So my criteria to choose the Qi Gong & Taijiquan events 2017 on my list are:

  • Minimum 3 days long
  • Minimum 3 different teachers
  • Possibility to participate in English or have translations to English (especially when the event is in a non-English-speaking country)

Just choose an event you would like to go to – there are so many possibilities and locations. I am sure you’ll find one of these big international Qi Gong & Taijiquan events 2017 right for you! You could even plan your vacation around such an event, they happen in really great places (France, anyone?).

And if you know about other events that match my criteria, feel free to write me an eMail!

Big International Qi Gong & Taijiquan Events 2017

 

International Push Hands Meeting HanoverInternational Push Hands Meeting Hannover: Logo
April 19-23, 2017
Hannover, Germany
For the 17th time, push hands beginners and enthusiasts meet in Hanover. Mornings are filled with workshops for all levels, afternoons are filled with free push hands opportunities.
Homepage

 

The Tai Chi Gala
June 2-4, 2017
Albany (NY), USA
The Tai Chi Gala initially started out as Master Jou Tsung Hwa’s “Zhang San Feng Festival”  in the mid 1980s. Later the event was renamed to Tai Chi Gala. They say that “at this convention there truly are treasures for EVERYONE to discover. From beginners to seasoned martial arts experts looking to finesse their skills with rare Chinese knowledge and techniques… to people searching for seminars  deep in the spiritual and meditative side of the ancient Chinese arts… to people looking for healing and energy development in workshops related to Qi Gong (energy work) and the secrets of Traditional Chinese Medicine.”
Homepage

 

5th International Taiji-Push Hands-Meeting Push Hands Haßfurt
June 15-18, 2017
Haßfurt a.M., Germany
The theme of this event is: Applying the classics of Taiji (Tai Chi) for a better understanding of the principles. You can actually watch a video from last year here!
Homepage

Drachen und Tiger – Open Air Pushing Hands Meeting
June 23-25, 2017
Wildeshausen, Germany
17th open air pushing hands meeting
Homepage

Tai Chi CaledoniaLogo of Tai Chi Caledonia Event
July 14-21, 2017
Stirling, Scotland
2017 is the 22nd time that this week of Tai Chi, Qi Gong & Chinese Internal Arts takes place in the heart of Scotland.
Homepage

SommerakademieLogo der Sommerakadmie Altenrode
July 17-30, 2017
Alterode, Germany
Enjoy one or even two weeks of Taijqiuan and Qi Gong for beginners, intermediates and advanced students!
Homepage

NQA Annual Qi Gong Conference
July 21-23, 2017
Newark (New Jersey), USA
Over the past 22 years, the National Qigong Assocation has hosted this confernence to share Qigong.
Homepage

Les Rencontres Jasnières
July 26-29, 2017
Marçon, France
This event will happen for the 30th time in 2017! It’s actually the oldest international Taijiquan meeting across different styles in Europe. It emphazises friendly and non-competitive exchange of experiences, skills, and push hands.(This meeting on a camping ground has no commercial organisator, thus openness and self organisation is expected!)
Homepage

North Sea Tai Chi Festival
August 18-20, 2017
Zeewolde, Netherlands
This is a 3-day outdoor Tai Chi festival, open to all styles, related disciplines and levels.
Homepage

Immortal Sisters ConferenceImmortal Sisters Conference 2017 - Logo
August 25-30, 2017
Phoenicia (NY), USA
The mission of the Immortal Sisters Conference is to gather together women practitioners and enthusiasts of Chi Kung and Taoist spirituality.  The intention is to inspire, learn, empower and share the ancient wisdom of “Returning to the Tao”.  The goal is to cultivate balance for women’s lives and for Mother Earth in an overly yang society. By the way: there is a discount for early registration until Dec 30th 2016!
Homepage

Universal Consciousness FestivalLogo of the Universal Consciousness Festival
September 7-11, 2017
Estes Park (Colorado), USA
The Universal Consciousness Festival brings together ancient forms of healing and techniques to achieve universal healing along with a diverse, exciting and unique array of performances.
Homepage

Taiji Forum 2017Taiji Forum: Logo
September 8-10, 2017
Hannover, Germany
Initiated by Nils Klug in 2016, this meeting is meant to create an international meeting for the celebration of the wealth of the Chinese internal arts with participants from different countries throughout Europe and Asia. It’s about showing and celebrating the different approaches and styles towards Taijiquan, Qigong, Wushu and other Chinese internal arts in all their rich varieties: from health to martial aspects, from traditional to „modern“ systems, from meditative to athletic performances.
Homepage

International Push Hands Meeting in Prague
September 15-17, 2017
Prague, Czech Republic
This meeting consists of workshop (experienced teachers will present their methods of work in Tai Chi Chuan and push hands), practice in pairs (participants will individually agree on how they want to practice in pairs in 10-minute rounds)and a Gala evening (space for presentations of styles, schools and forms as well as a friendly meeting)
Homepage

International Symposium on Qigong  in Italy
October 18-20, 2017
Rome, Italy
The “NeiDao – The Inner Way” Association is preparing and organizing the Symposium dedicated to Qigong. Renowned presenters from all over the world will be meet and share their experience at the Symposium, coming from China, Japan, USA, Canada, the Netherlands, England, Germany, Switzerland, as well as from all over Italy.
Homepage

World Congress on Qigong, Tai Chi & TCM
Date not set yet
San Francisco, USA
From spectacular feats & amazing demonstrations, powerful all-day workshops to innovative keynote speakers, everyone is invited to join in this global movement to further complementary alternative medicine!
Homepage

So those are a lot of big Qi Gong & Taijiquan events 2017!

Picture of Fan Workshop at Universal Consciousness Festival, taken by Ken McCray

Universal Consciousness Festival (by Ken McCray)

I am sure there are some more, so please contact me if you know of another meeting that meets my criteria (min. 3 days, min. 3 teachers, English).

And of course I want to wish all organizers and participants success and a good time:

Have fun! Learn a lot! Connect with each other!

Happy Qi!

Angelika

P.S.: I would like to add one more big event: the World Tai Chi & Qi Gong Day on April 29th, 2017 which is celebrated all over the world!

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