it all about?
From Jane Fonda
to Paula Abdul, women of the entertainment industry love to spread the
word when they find a terrific workout. After many years working as
a swordmaster and fight choreographer in film and television, keeping
fit in all sorts of fun and different ways that involved swords, whips,
horses and chariots, I experienced the great womanly equalizers: pregnancy,
childbirth, and motherhood.
Motherhood squeezed most of the ways that
I was used to keeping fit off the regimen, but one obscure martial
art in my bag of tricks turned out to be the ideal pre-natal workout!
Later, I discovered that it was also an ideal post-natal workout. And
finally, I discovered that it’s a
great workout to do with a toddler. It’s a tai chi form called
Tai Chi Flying Rainbow Fan.
Behind that flowery name is a self defense form that uses
a simple fan as a weapon. I first was drawn to it years ago for its cinematic
and creative possibilities, but fighting fan is also a viable form of self defense,
used historically by ordinary
women and by warriors
I'm now sharing this wonderful art form as a workout
for mothers and mothers-to-be. I know from my own experience that the movements
remain viable throughout a healthy pregnancy, and
tai chi is often recommended to pregnant
women for its many
| (who often
carried ceremonial fans). And although it’s a style of combat,
it's practiced alone as a kata – a solo form, almost like a dance.
Developed by Professor Ju-Rong Wang (the first
woman professor of Chinese martial arts in China) in 1960, this particular
fighting fan form was brought to North America by her daughter, Master
Helen Wu, less than 10 years ago, when Master Wu began teaching it in
Canada. One of her earliest students introduced me to Flying Rainbow
Fan, and the two of us, with Master Wu’s consent, began teaching the
first U.S. classes in Tai Chi Flying Rainbow Fan, though only in the context
of the entertainment industry.
benefits – boosting
the immune system, relieving back and neck pain, lowering blood pressure
and relieving stress. In the early stages of pregnancy, I found that it
helps with nausea and fatigue; in the later months it offers the gratification
of a fun, demanding workout that's not inhibited by a growing belly.
Tai Chi Fan is gentle enough to be resumed after giving birth as soon as
normal activity is approved by a doctor. And babies and toddlers love to
watch, and even participate in, this workout. There are times when my son
hands me the fan and demands it for his own entertainment!
And, of course, all that’s required is a simple fan – no mats,
no weights, no gyms. Keep a fan in the car, and you can stop at any park at
any time for a quick 10-minute workout.