San Francisco 
 Hunyuan Taiji Academy 

Leaving Back Pain Behind

by Kevin D. 

Kevin's story

Kevin D. 
Semi-retired consultant to biotech industry
Regain health and vitality, including reduction of severe chronic lower back pain; weight loss; regain core body strength and balance; learn Hunyuan Tai Chi at a deep level and develop a second career teaching 
Leaving Back Pain Behind

My story to date: I turn 57 next week, and for once in at least the past 20 years I am looking forward to getting older. After two major and approxi-mately 10 minor surgeries/invasive procedures on my lower back combined with many years of daily morphine use for chronic pain, I am now off all narcotics, am relatively pain free, and COMPLETING each 90 minute Hunyuan class (I'm taking Qigong, Dynamic Qigong, and Beginning Tai Chi). That's 9 hrs/week. Sweet.


Last year I made up my mind that my priorities needed to change; my rapidly deteriorating health, severe back pain leading to inactivity and weight gain etc., finally pushed me over the edge. I had to do something but was extremely limited in my ability to move, as well as having no endurance. I knew taiji would help me, and I began my search which led to Malcolm. I have had a long interest in taiji, and some prior martial arts experience many years ago, so I knew what I was looking for and Malcolm kindly consented to private lessons beginning last October. Let's just say my lessons consisted of me bombarding Malcolm with questions as it was apparent that I was not able to physically perform the moves of the form, until one day, when discussing the importance of integrating meditation into your practice, Malcolm was aligning me into the 'standing post' meditation posture and the nerve that was pinched in post-surgery in my lower back all those years ago seemingly popped free and almost all of my pain went away. I almost cried.


Anyway, except for a few tweaks here and there, the pain did not come back and I began reducing the narcotics and was finished with them completely by the end of February. As the Hunyuan Taiji Academy was set to open the first of February, I retired from my business, and today am more or less devoting myself to learning Hunyuan Taiji. By the end of February I did not have to rest or lie down during the class like earlier in the month. Now nearing the end of March, not only am I completing the scheduled classes (not counting coming early), but practice at least another hour or more on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on my own. I'm now able to do household chores, run errands, go for walks with my ever-loving wife -- things I have not been able to do without paying for it in massive pain for years! 


Yes, I have been busting my butt, but I most definitely give all the credit to Malcolm Dean and his teachings at the SF Hunyuan Taiji Academy for my feeling better, and looking at least 20 years younger. Sorta. And I'm not even finished.

-- Kevin


I have already demonstrated to myself that the myriad claimed health benefits of Hunyuan Tai Chi are true (see previous post) and now wish to discuss other aspects arising from what I consider an extremely brief period of training. Many moons ago, I studied various Chinese martial arts, including another style of Tai Chi. I continued as I was able with the Tai Chi through my illness and while it kept me moving, that was about it. I had received no training in the other aspects of the art, such as qigong and meditation, and no push hands or martial applications, which I enjoy. 

Under Malcolm, I am now not only getting this integration, but also the benefit of his years of experience in push hands which in my mind insures that I will be able to get all the training in Hunyuan that I need, explained in a way that I can understand, and more importantly, use. I now know what my dantian should feel like, but have a long way to go to control it. I think I can sense qi, and am "listening" to this as I go, playing with these new feelings. I now can root myself when standing or in the form, again with a long way to go. 

I try to meditate every day, and honestly am about 75% successful, though I still get distracted. This means many attempts per week, as I still am in the "monkey mind" stage and have quite a long row to hoe. I do find that when I do meditate, even as short as 15 minutes, I am able to perform the movements when practicing form in a more relaxed and present mindspace and with less effort. 

Given my background in western sciences and my being somewhat over-analytical, I am delighted to just let go and feel the changes. Doesn't reduce the number of questions to Malcolm though. 

I do know that provided I don't do anything stupid and re-injure myself, I will be able to get the first form learned this year. Then I hope to have a firm basis for proceeding further with my studies (weapons, more forms, push hands- yippee!).

I will update all with my progress.


-- K. D.