Pam Kircher About Me Contact Me
Tai Chi NDEs Integrative Medicine End of Life Issues Reflections
  Section Home
  Tai Chi for Arthritis
  Tai Chi for Diabetes
  Sun Style 73 form
  Selected Reading List
Tai Chi

The First International Conference Of Tai Chi For Health: A Glimpse Into The Experience

December 4-7, 2006 Textile Center, Seoul, Korea

Our Seoul hosts created the perfect environment for the first international conference, from the elegant brochures announcing the conference to the lovely setting at the Textile center complete with daily fresh flowers for keynote speakers and for Rhayun Song’s (the translator and organizer of the conference) table to the spacious practice rooms to the printed proceedings themselves. My hope is that this article will allow you to have a taste of the conference, the next best thing to being there in person.

Keynote presentations

The approximately 200 participants began each morning by hearing a keynote address. The first morning Dr. Lam spoke about the development of the tai chi for health programs and his hope for the future. He then introduced participants to the physical experience of tai chi for health. Some of our participants were researchers who had not actually experienced tai chi for themselves, so this was a wonderful introduction not only to the mental aspects of the program but also to how the program feels to participants.

The next morning Dr. Roy Geib from Indiana University School of Medicine in Terre Haute, Indiana USA spoke about examining ancient practices with modern science. He discussed the variety of CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) modalities and how tai chi fits into the spectrum of CAM therapies. He then discussed some of the research issues that need to be considered when studying the effects of tai chi. These include asking the right questions, using comparable populations in the study, and using consistent tai chi and teaching methods. We all left his talk being glad that we were part of a consistent tai chi for health program that uses the same teaching method throughout the world, but we also were aware that we need to be aware of the need for that consistency when participating in studies.

The third morning, I discussed the various practical ways that tai chi for health programs are being used throughout the world. Tai Chi for Diabetes throughout every aspect of a Native American pueblo community was one example in the U.S. In New Zealand, the TCA program has been used nationally through the government sponsored Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) in their injury prevention program. Some other places where the tai chi for health programs have been useful include prisons, mental health facilities, stress reduction courses, senior centers, Alzheimer’s units, hospice, and cancer support groups.

On the fourth morning, Dr. Eunok Lee from the College of Nursing, Seoul National University in Korea spoke on “Expanding Strategies of Tai Chi for Health.” She gave a clear and concise discussion about participating in research that included writing the research proposals, obtaining funding, selecting the program, advertising for the program, obtaining appropriate participants, ensuring participant retention during the course of the study, writing, publishing, and presenting the research outcomes. Her ideas for participant retention include a contract, daily at home practice with reports at the group sessions, and calling people midweek to see how their practice plan is proceeding. This is useful information for instructors whether we are currently participating in research or not.

Dr. Lee is retiring in February, 2007 and there was a heartfelt standing ovation from the audience for all of the work that she has done in developing the Korean Society of Muscle and Joint Health and in promoting not only this conference but the very robust research that is ongoing in Korea with regard to the tai chi for health programs.

Breakout Sessions

When the keynote presentations were complete, we had options for two breakout sessions before lunch. Participants could choose workshops, symposiums, or concurrent sessions.

Some examples of workshop opportunities included “Tai Chi for Arthritis: Understanding TCA as a Martial Art,” “Sun Style Tai Chi for Multiple Sclerosis and Other Autoimmune Disorders,” and “How to Improve the Rooting in the Practice of Tai Chi Form and Push-Hands.” The Symposiums each included three or four presenters discussing their programs and/or research. Examples included “Tai Chi for Physical and Mental Health of Patients with Parkinson’s Disease” and “The Impact of Tai Chi on Senior Chinese Citizen’s Mental Health.” The concurrent sessions included three presenters per session. Examples of presentations included “Development and Application of Early Rehabilitation Program Using Yang-Style Tai Chi Exercise for Breast Cancer Patients after Mastectomy” and “Literature Review: The Basis for Tai Chi Chuan as a Therapeutic Exercise Approach.” Overall, there were some 45-50 presentation opportunities in these breakout sessions.

Interest Groups

An optional opportunity was lunch at the textile center where we met for interest groups that included such topics as “Tai Chi and Complementary Therapies,” “Enhancing Research Outcomes,” “Tai Chi for Children,” and “Tai Chi for Chronic Conditions.” Participants in the group discussions could share ideas and concerns with fellow participants interested in the same topics in the realms of specific aspects of tai chi for health.

Poster Presentations

Throughout the course of the day poster presentations were displayed in the break area. Over the course of the four days, we had an opportunity to review some 50 poster presentations. Some topics included “A Review of Exercise Program for Community” and “The Effect of Tai Chi Exercise on Pain Relief of Arthritis Patients.”

Certificate Workshops

In the afternoon, we could enroll in a certificate workshop that included primarily four hour sessions per day. Offerings included Tai Chi for Arthritis 1, TCA 2, Exploring the Depth of TCA, and Tai Chi for Diabetes. These were the workshops that are usually presented in the weekend format throughout the world. It was an opportunity for researchers to experience in depth the workshops that instructors attend, a chance for people to become certified as instructors in new areas of Tai Chi for Health, or a chance for current instructors to enhance their skills and understanding of the depth of TCA.

Closing session

We closed the conference with a demonstration from our participants in the certificate workshops. We then had closing remarks from each of the conference organizers and keynote speakers. All agreed that it had been a remarkably successful first international conference for tai chi for health. The four days was a wonderful blending of practical information, awareness of the breadth and depth of research that is ongoing, opportunities to practice tai chi and to improve teaching and movement skills, and a way to meet new tai chi friends. Participants gave a rousing standing ovation to Dr. Rhayun Song, Dr. Eunok Lee, Dr. Hyun-Sook Kang and their very extensive group of colleagues who created this experience of a lifetime!

The Future

The next International Conference for Tai Chi for Health will be held in the U.S. the first week of December, 2008. Dr. Roy Geib is the chair of the organizing committee. Stay tuned for more details in the near future. Meanwhile, I hope this excursion into the Seoul conference has given you a glimpse into what it was like to be a participant. May you experience the next international conference in person!


back to list of articles