Blog: Sifu Stephen Britt

In a nutshell, Tai Chi Chuan is the centuries-old art of breaking force with softness. Sifu Stephen Britt is technical director of the Michigan Wu Style Tai Chi Chuan and Chi Kung Institute. He calls for Michigan to be a national leader in research into the efficacy of employing this art form into alternative medicinal therapies.

Post 2: Tai Chi Chuan: A Cure?

The Western medical practitioners in Michigan have been remarkably receptive to adding elements of the Tai Chi Chuan curriculum to their rehabilitative care modalities.  Alternative medicine has become an important part of what Western medical professionals offer to their patients.  While medical care can assist those facing challenges, preventative care is essential and somewhat lacking in the consciousness of the population.  Good dietary and exercise practices go a tremendous distance in eliminating the need for medical care down the road.  Unfortunately, it takes discipline and effort to take proper care of oneself.  Doctors do not have the time to teach people how to exercise.  

As a result, local area hospitals set up various classes in different forms of exercise for the general public to help the public in two different ways.  Firstly, where a person's personal physician may suggest exercise, the hospitals can have a direct hand in making such programs available to their population.  Secondly, by bringing people to participate in such exercise programs, the door is kept open for the population to build a better relationship with medical professionals, and in this ongoing relationship, to establish better lifestyle activities, leading to better preventative care.

What attracts medical practitioners to Tai Chi Chuan is the ability to adjust the workload involved in the training to suit any person's level of physical conditioning.  The training can be adapted to suit any age group or any level of physical limitation.

I am very impressed with how the Western medical professionals we deal with assess new alternative medicine programs prior to implementation.  In many cases, we teach the doctors and nurses first, so they can see for themselves what the art does for the student and how it does it.  In this way, they can develop the confidence to recommend the program to their patients.

We have developed programs in the areas of oncology, cardiology, pulmonary care, and occupational therapy.  Each patient population has a different set of needs and separate curriculums have had to be developed to suit those needs.  This has been a fascinating challenge, as any work with Western medicine and Tai Chi Chuan is in effect groundbreaking as it has never been done before.  

It is my hope that before long, formal research will be established in Michigan to properly assess the form's efficacy. We have also developed programs for people with specific health challenges working with support groups in areas such as diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and autism. With the receptivity of the Western medical professionals in Michigan, research into Tai Chi Chuan could easily lead to the development of programs that could be implemented on a national basis.  I see no reason why Michigan should not be the place to spearhead these types of programs.