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Thread: Teaching Tai Chi/Chi Kung to the Elderly

  1. #46
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
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    Houston, Tx. USA
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    First off, with an older crowd, even 24 posture may be a stretch. I have had a number of students ages from 14 to 80. It seems that after about 65 or so, unless they are really mentally active, you have to be sure NOT to overload them.

    You have it easier if the class is ALL seniors. (Mine is a mix and many times the older ones take a lot of encouragement so they don't quit).

    Also, you absolutely MUST know of their physical limitations on a person by person basis. Some modifications are for everyone, some only for one or two people.

    Then, I personally never cared much for the new 8 posture and 16 posture forms. They were created for the duan system to build beginner levels. they are precursors to 24. For me, they always seemed too easy. But, for an older crowd, they would be a good tool. They are much less intimidating.

    You can get materials on both. If you already know 24, all you really have to learn is the sequence since they are both built from simplifying and shortening 24.

    As for Qi Gong...while it is easy to teach a still Qi Gong method...non-moing meditation type or thing or even Post....I would not do that.

    Older people tend to have vertigo problems. Standing post can be bad for them with balance. It can also lead to them stiffening up due to arthritis.

    I would suggest something like 18 Liangong or 20 Posture Qi Gong. They are moving methods, they work the body a bit, and they can be modified to some extent for people sitting (as in the wheelchair and walker crowd).

    Another altrnative is to take 24, remove some of the repetitions, take out the lower snake body, simplify or remove the kicks, and voila! you have your own simplified simplified routine...you can then make sure that everything is done equally on both sides as well.

  2. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by GeneChing
    OMG. Better not grow old then. Actually, you're little spoof of the square dance tai chi three posts up ain't far off the mark. Only instead of 'hey ho' it was 'dosey do'. OK, seriously now, that guy's class was a heck of a lot better than group musical internal forms competition...
    the more i think about it, the more i think it's a great idea.

    you know, like lyrics to a kungfu set.

    set it to the right rythym you could actually get people doing taichi better!

    only problem being, it would be a very very slow shuffle kind of thing, almost dirge like in quality...hmmm
    Kung Fu is good for you.

  3. #48
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    When I taught Taiji to seniors, I started with the 8 postures. It was a shrt form as follows: Ward off, Roll Back, Press, Push, Pull Down, Split, Elbow, hipps.

    In a 12 week course, I taught it first on one side, then on the other side, pluss we did warmups and some basic simple drills.

    Generally by week 7 or so we began to just warm up, and drill both sides of the 8 posture set. They followed along behind me, and I only did corrections after I got 20 minutes of doing the set myself.

    THEN, at the last class I demoed the 37 move form, and started teaching them so they would see they have just scratched the surface, and would come back next session. It usually toook 2 sessions to teach them the full 37 move form. Once they got it, and cold smoothy perform the set, they usually quit. I have a 108 move Taiji form from the Chao style. I think next time I start teaching, I'm going to teach that set too, just to keep them around a few sessions longer.
    Those that are the most sucessful are also the biggest failures. The difference between them and the rest of the failures is they keep getting up over and over again, until they finally succeed.


    For the Women:

    + = & a

  4. #49
    Hard to get a straight answer to your question huh? Using the elderly as a source of joking? Someone does not visit their grandmother or grandfather very much.

    If I was you, I would not worry about making sure they get it right. Just get them to do the movements at all, or so it looks OK. You will save your own sanity. What is most important in my opinion is that they are all working together in the class doing the movements together. It is the syncing up and the rythym you want them to get more than correct movements.

    I agree with the guy who said "that is a poor health group of elderly".

    I attended a Tai Chi class for elderly people once. It was taught as a community thing by a guy who had pay classes. I could attend the elderly Tai Chi class for free because the city paid for it. It was very educational.

    There were people up to 70 or 75 in the class that walked around and talked to people and did all the forms. They did the full Tai Chi form. We also did the butterfly sword routine I think it is called. The wooden sword routine? These elderly people were something else.

    If the people didn't get the form, the teacher didn't care. It didn't matter. The old people were all together, all doing the form, all talking and enjoying themselves. The people that wanted to do good did good. The ones that wanted socializing got to socialize.

    I finally left the class after one of the old people talked to me. She was giving me some pointers on what I should be doing right. She was like 65 or something. She showed me what Tai Chi is supposed to be like and I got so scared I practically ran away. I felt kind of bad because they lady was trying to be polite and helpful. I can right this minute remember the situation. She says to me "watch this", and as she demonstrated I thought "OH MY GOD!!!!!!!! WTF!!!!!!!!!!! AAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! !

    Still makes my insides twist with discomfort.

  5. #50
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
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    So she slipped the tongue in eh?
    cxxx[]:::::::::::>
    Behold, I see my father and mother.
    I see all my dead relatives seated.
    I see my master seated in Paradise and Paradise is beautiful and green; with him are men and boy servants.
    He calls me. Take me to him.

  6. #51

    Thumbs up

    In response to the first post.

    Good work.

    To teach senior citizens to do Tai Chi ercise and breathing exercise.

    In the April 2005 issue of IKF page 48, and May 2005 page 52, there is an article on Yang Tai Ji in 8 postures. They are good for beginners. One may start one posture at time. Eventually 8 postures strung together in any order of sequence.

    1. start or commencing form.
    2. Repulse the monkey.
    3. Brush knee and twist step.
    4. Part wild horse's mane.
    5. Cloud hands. 2 X left and right.
    6. Golden rooster stands on one leg.
    7. Heel kick.
    8. Grasp the bird's tail.

    6 and 7 posture are optional depends on their physical ability.

    Alternatively, in 6, just move one foot up a bit. Not reaching the other knee high.

    In 7, you may rotate around your hip and do a low swing kick outward and not reaching the waist high.

    Both to the left and to the right may be practiced.

    This composite 8 was rolled out by China Wushu Institute. It is shorter than 24 forms. It is the most popular or 'hot" Tai Chi forms in China at the present time. They call it 8 steps or Ba Bu Yang Tai Ji.


    Last edited by SPJ; 04-29-2005 at 09:13 PM.

  7. #52
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
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    Knoxville Tennessee
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    My class is all seniors. Late 50s to late 80s. Some just sit and move their hands. Others may be able to do the form with some sembelence of tai chi. I don't know 8 or 16 step, but I might look into that. Right now they are "parting horses mane." I do the opening posture and make them repreat the "part the mane" over and over with the emphasis on the slow and controled transition of weight in the step. If I even get to the kicks and snake postures I'll modify them (likeSPJ mentioned.). (Heck, my knee is still that I can't go all the way down on one of the snake postures myself).

    As for the Qi gong, It's really basic "breath of the day you were born" breathing. Focusing on filling the lower lung first etc. Breath in, hold, breath out etc. They can stand or sit. Nothing too taxing. Just stretch and expand the lungs and ribs ets with good controlled breathing. It's not like I'm taking them through 5 animal frolic or anything.

    As for training both sides, the postures of the form do that on it's own (with the excption of "single whip" which is only done with the left hand in 24 posture.

    YKW: I finally see where are miscommunication is. To be clear: MY GROUP IS NOT IN GOOD SHAPE. THEY CAN'T RUN. I KNOW ELDERLY PEOPLE THAT ARE IN GOOD SHAPE AND CAN RUN (LIKE YOU KNOW TOO) BUT THESE PEOPLE AREN'T IN THAT PHYSICAL CONDITION AND PROBABLY WON'T BE.

    Now that we've gotten that out of the way, I appreciate all of the contructive comments on how to approach the class. I've only taught two so far, so the calss can go in a zillion different directions and I've gotten some great ideas and suggestions.
    Last edited by Judge Pen; 04-29-2005 at 06:40 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Oso View Post
    AND, yea, a good bit of it is about whether you can fight with what you know...kinda all of it is about that.

  8. #53
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    barren desert
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    ba bu yang taiji

    as folks stated, a shorter form is probably called for in this situation. once u know a given form, it's easy to just curtail it by cutting out certain movements as well as repetitions. haven't you ever just felt like doing 'freestyle' taiji and just do a number of movements spontaneously?
    anyway, here's the video for the taiji 8 spj mentioned. here it's listed at 10 movements though. i guess they're counting 'closing form' and something else.

    another option is to do what my teacher has us do when working on basics. in conjunction with teaching them a basic form to get them practicing a coordinated sequence, take certain movements and have them drill through them a few times. for example, part the wild horse's main 3x, then repulse monkey 3x,the heel kicks several times, then perhaps clouding hands several times. lol, i'm realizing the 8 movement form is essentially a brief version of that...

    good job making the effort to help people with their health

  9. #54
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
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    Houston, Tx. USA
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    While Qi Gong of any form is going to be good, in the population you are hittig, you have already said that some can't do a lot due to physical problems...as in they are sitting and such.

    So, it would be a good transition to use the still Qi Gong breathing methods as a startup and then add moving Qi Gong to it.

    For example, Dr. Wu Chengde formulated a 13 posture Taiji Qi Gong set. It takes postures from several styles of Taijiquan and uses them in a repetitive Qi Gong method that can be easily adjusted to fit time and ability - he actually created it to fit in qith his medical students at the Shanghai College of TCM and Longhua hospital as well as for the med students to use with rehabilitating patients.

    So, one posture can be the Step back and Whirl arms (more or les from Yang style and 24 Posture). If the student can move in balance, they do Step back and raise arms (Some might call it Repulse Monkey as well) and do right and left sides in place. For those that can't, they stay seated and do the arm movements - either way, it is combined with proper breathing.

    The hard parts of teaching seniors :

    You have to deal with a wide variety of health - from really bad to good - in one class

    You have to deal with a wide range of mental ability (some can remember and some suffer from CRS (Can't remember S***) So patience is a must)

    Encouragement and discouragement is a major issue. You have to provide encouragement and dela with their often unrealistic expectations and the discouragement that results from same.

    The quick ones can fit into any Taijiquan class. The slow ones will try your patience - and end up annoying the quick ones...but BOTH have a right to be in class and get benefits.

    I would also recommend a team teaching approach. if you have a teaching partner, you can have one person lead the main class and the other deal with individuals. If it turns out that most of the class is slow, then the main part of class is at that pace and the person dealing with individuals is dealing with the quicker ones..or vice versa.

    The main things to keep in mind - At 70, Taijiquan as a martial art...get real - ain't gonna happen. ALL people can benefit from Taijiquan as a healthy form of exercise...and WATCH OUT FOR BAD KNEES.

  10. #55
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    Maryanne Thomas

    A 93-year old Vernon woman taught her final Tai Chi class before retiring
    Teaching Tai Chi at 93
    Victoria Femia - Oct 4, 2021 / 4:00 am

    Photo: Doug Geiger
    Maryanne Thomas
    At 93-years old Maryanne Thomas led her final Tai Chi class and officially retired.

    The Vernon resident has been teaching Tai Chi for 32 years and has been an instructor in a rented space at Knox Presbyterian church for the last 18 years.

    “The final class (Sept. 28) included 10 students who have been steadfast with Maryanne for the last 18 years through life’s ups, downs and challenges,” said Thomas’ son-in-law, Doug Geiger.

    “Adding to the celebration were many who arrived at the end of class to give thanks and show their appreciation because this dynamic group of now seniors are more than a class.”

    Thomas said teaching her final class was an emotional one.

    “I’ve been at this for so long, with the same people that were in my class, we’ve known each other for a long time,” said Thomas.

    “They’re my family.”

    At 93-years old, Thomas credits Tai Chi for keeping her active and motivated.

    “It’s very helpful as far as your balance, you improve with each move,” said Thomas.

    “I really enjoyed it, it makes me feel good to see people improve too.”
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