The Experiences of Members

How I Dealt with Rheumatism by Kazuko Kuboyama (Headquarters)

In about 1992, I fell down and was bedridden, which caused my rheumatism to suddenly become worse.
I went from one hospital to another, but I continued to get worse. It got so bad that it was painful just to breathe. It seemed as though I would be bedridden for life. Rheumatism is said to be due to a disorder of the immune system, and neither the mechanism of the disease nor the best treatment are completely understood. Steroids and tranquilizers give relief for a few hours, but they have terrible side effects affecting the stomach and other organs. I felt as though the medicine it_self was killing me.

At that point, in order to receive the best and most up-to-date treatment, I went to the U.S. But even there I got nothing but symptomatic therapy. But rehabilitation programs there are much better than those in Japan, and I started to be able to exercise and gradually got stronger, but I still couldn't walk more than 100 yards unaided, even with leg supports. I couldn't dress my_self, and couldn't even squeeze the toothpaste out of the tube. I realized that it would be difficult to return to an "ordinary" life. Depressed, I asked my American doctor what I could do, and he recommended that I begin practicing T'ai-chi, whereupon I returned to Japan and started taking lessons at AJSSMAF. At first, I just couldn't practice for a full 90 minutes, so I had to keep taking breaks during class. I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to continue. But I kept coming to practice, mostly because I felt I should. After practicing T'ai-chi for 3 years, I became very healthy. My fingers and joints have straightened out, and I seem even better than before I suffered from severe rheumatism! (Laughter.) And I don't even get colds any more. My doctor says it's very rare for rheumatism to be cured completely, but he also says that I appear to be better. T'ai-chi seems to have strengthened my immune system and helped suppress the disease. So I can heartily recommend T'ai-chi to anyone suffering from the torture of rheumatism and to anyone else who wants to enjoy a better, healthier life.

Long Illness Cured in One Year by Naoyuki Somiya (Headquarters)

In about 1985, my whole body started to fall apart! For no apparent reason, I suddenly developed a disease that causes calcification of the joints. I couldn't bend many of my joints and it seemed to be progressing.
In my school days, I had practiced Judo, and had been so flexible that I could touch my knees with my forehead-yet now I could hardly move. And Western medicine couldn't seem to help me get better, although doctors tried everything they could think of. Then one of my colleagues at work, Mr. Motoyoshi (who is an instructor at AJSSMAF), recommended that I try to practice Tai Chi. At first, I couldn't do it at all-I couldn't stand on one foot at all, and my overall balance was terrible. But one year later, I could easily stand on one foot and lift my legs up high. This was proof to me that my whole body was getting better.
I had gone from pain to ease of movement with no pain! Every day, I seemed to get a little bit better, and people started to say, "You're looking great" and "You seem to be full of pep! "(Laughter.) Recently, people tell me that I look younger than I really am, which makes me regret that I didn't start practicing T'ai-chi even earlier!

T'ai-chi Is the Ultimate 'Energizer' by T.S. (Government official; Headquarters)

As I have always loved sports, I had tried almost every kind of sports but when I came home after practicing, I was always exhausted and had lost all energy and all desire to study or catch up on my work. But T'ai-chi is different. Even on days when I find my_self saying, "I'm a little tired today," if I practice T'ai-chi, I start to feel refreshed. It's as though energy is created that flows throughout my body, filling me with an invigorating, new feeling. And even better, after practice, my head is clear and alert, so after I get home, I dove right into my work and study cheerfully, as I can concentrate better then than at other times.

I Lost Over 35 Pounds in 9 Months by Masako Ishii (Headquarters)

Since the third grade, I have suffered from migraines; at 22 and 23 I was plagued with lumbago, and had lots of colds and bronchitis; and, despite my youth, I was always tired-I was literally falling to pieces! So, in order to try to help overcome these problems, I began to practice T'ai-chi. About 2 months after starting, I noticed that I felt wonderful after practice. And when I happened to get on the scale, I noticed that I had lost almost 9 pounds, even though I had not been consciously dieting. As I started watching my weight carefully, I noticed that I was losing almost 4.5 pounds a month. It turned out that after 9 months, I had lost over 35 pounds! In addition, although I had suffered terribly from the migraines and lower-back pain, those symptoms disappeared amazingly. I gradually became stronger and developed more stamina, and now it seems I never get tired at all! I never thought, not even in my dreams, that T'ai-chi would help me lose weight, or help alleviate my illnesses. Things had been so bad that I had once even thought of quitting my job. But T'ai-chi changed everything, for which I will always be grateful.

Painless, Trauma-free Post-Surgery Recovery by Seiko Kikuno (Chiba branch)

I joined the Chiba branch in order to escape from the pain of sciatica and lumbago, but Tai Chi helped me escape from another problem which can only be termed as "strange experience." In 1994, I was diagnosed as having cancer, and had to have a major operation to remove the tumor. Before surgery, I was able to face the reality of my situation thanks to the stability and peace of mind I had gained through my daily practice of Tai Chi. Even on the day I was scheduled for surgery, I got up early and practiced the 99-pose long form, and I entered the OR with a feeling of great acceptance. The strangest thing occurred later: I never felt any pain! Upon awakening from the anesthetic, there was no sense of pain at all, although there was, of course, a strange sensation of dullness and lethargy. But even while bedridden, I continued to practice ch'i-kung, and that dull, lethargic feeling gradually faded away. At the same time, the healing of the surgical incision-indeed, the healing of the whole body-was extraordinarily quick. As soon as the stitches were removed, I was up on the rooftop practicing Tai Chi. I could feel as powerful as ch'i-kung might be, Tai Chi was even stronger, and am thankful for how it helped me recover. I am for the rest of my life grateful to Master Jibiki and all the instructors at the AJSSMAF for their kindness and patience in teaching me the techniques of Orthodox Tai Chi Chuan(T'ai-Chi Ch'uan). It not only helped me to pass through a difficult experience unscathed, but also changed and improved my life and let me filled with gratitude and great joy.

Nervous Gastritis Healed by Dat Khieu Khong (Headquarters; Miami branch)

In 1986, my family left Viet Nam in search of a better life and came to Japan. Life in a foreign country was not easy, and my encounter with internal martial arts marked a very important turning point in my life. In about 1991, I saw a poster in a train advertising AJSSMAF and came to observe classes, upon which I began to train in T'ai-chi. Until that time, I worked in the daytime and went to school at night. In addition, after coming home, I practiced judo. After a while, I had started to become weak and developed nervous gastritis. Stress caused dysfunction of the stomach and even led to small perforations in the stomach wall. The doctor gave me bags full of medicine, and I became quite depressed. But about 6 months after starting T'ai-chi, I started to feel so good that I noticed I was forgetting to take my medicine. So I purposely went for a while without taking it at all-and, to my surprise, my stomach got better. When I mentioned it to Master Jibiki, he told me that T'ai-chi helps restore balance to the autonomic nervous system, and I believe that the return to balance gained through practicing T'ai-chi healed my stomach. While it is a superlative martial art that can be used most effectively in self-DEFENSE, it is also marvelously effective in helping heal disease. Now that I am better, I have moved with my family to the United States, where I live in Florida and teach this great art to others.

Harald Polster (Headquarters)

Harald Polster came to Japan in 1993 as a visiting professor in sports education at Hitotsubashi University.
At present, he is acting as coach for the Japanese luge team to compete in the Nagano Olympics. In the midst of his busy schedule, the only time he gets to relax is when he practices T’ai-chi.
I had long been interested in Japan’s traditional culture and Oriental ways of movement. When I first saw T’ai-chi, I said to myself, “This is what I’ve been looking for!” Before coming to Japan, I had studied in east Germany how to produce world champions, and one of my students earned a gold medal at Lillehammer. As I was once an athlete myself, and was interested in both the physical and mental aspects of sports, I was looking for something that would let me improve both body and mind. Even though T’ai-chi involves very slow movements, I felt that it could help me on both levels.
Shortly after I first began to study T’ai-chi, I noticed that my ability was both physically and mentally improved, and that I was better able to control my actions than before. In addition, the lumbago that I had been bothered with for many years was getting better.
I also noticed that when I was warming up with Ta-cheng Chikung (Taisei kiko), my hands would get warm, and, when I held them close to each other, it felt as though something was flowing between my hands. Then there were lots of interesting changes that took place in my body. Every time I practiced, I experience something different. When I was so busy that I didn’t have time to practice, I felt as though I were letting some very important opportunity slip by. ( Laughter.)
At present, I both coach and write article for sports magazines and books. As busy as I am, I travel twice a week from Nagano to the main dojo in Shibuya by car that takes 4 hours each way. And my training helps me immensely. I am in charge of the mental training of athletes who will participate in the Nagano Olympics, and it seems to me that coaches in Japan are not as aware of how important the mental aspect of training is as coaches abroad. Indeed, Oriental culture has developed wonderful techniques such as yoga or T’ai-chi that allow practitioners to control their bodies with their minds. That is what I find so fascinating about T’ai-chi.
In former east Germany, the relationship between a coach and athletes was very strong and grown out of trust. I would like to build such as relationship with my athletes in Nagano. Finally, after returning home to Germany, I would like to open up a branch of this dojo and teach this wonderful art to the people in my homeland.