Testimonials

From people who know the power of Golden Breath American Tai Chi

aram Mounzer, M.D. Medical Director of Philadelphia FIGHT Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine University of Pennsylvania

Karam Mounzer, M.D.
Medical Director of Philadelphia FIGHT
Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine
University of Pennsylvania

Having spent 15 years in practice caring for HIV infected patients, it has been my pleasure to have worked with a variety of superb and dedicated people who possessed exceptional skills, compassion and commitment to the field. I must say that I have rarely worked with anyone as exceptional as SiBok Robert Kassof.

Robert made an incredible impact on our patient’s lives using his extraordinary Tai Chi skills, and infused into them hope, a sense of well-being and most importantly helped them transcend their disease and other handicaps and set their lives on the track towards recovery. Robert is unfailingly upbeat, and has wonderful energy that he seems to apply to all areas of his life. He is a real “people person” and has touched too many human lives as a mentor, a counselor, a healer, a hero, irrespective of their age, sex, background and skin color. When he left Philadelphia, his legacy remained among his students who continue to teach Tai Chi in many sites of the city.

On a personal level Robert has been a shining example of dedication, commitment and kindness and a standard that many of us aspire for.

Cheers,
Karam Mounzer


Bernadette Kinniry, RSM, Tai Chi at Siloam
For the past four years, Golden Breath Tai Chi™ has been offered at SILOAM on Wednesdays, from 1:00 to 2:15PM. This provides those infected/affected by HIV/AIDS safe space for wholesome body/mind/spirit exercise on behalf of wellness. I have witnessed obvious improvement inphysical health, attitudes of self-worth and care, and a deepening sense of belonging in those who attend. Honoring the time to continue to learn this method of being, and applying it daily in one’s flow of the day, makes a marked difference in the all-around wellness of the participant. Becoming aware of the sacredness of one’s own breath, of the vibrant dance of that breathing as we choose to slow down and be, is priceless learning. I am so grateful for the generosity, skill, care and wisdom of Sibok and all our teachers. They are offering a significant gift to our world, and each who participates is a unique flow of that gift.


Barry Williams, Operations Manager,Village Prep. Family Service of Philadelphia
For the past three years that you have volunteered your time for teaching Tai Chi, staff and students at Village Prep have benefited from your teaching. Students have learned the importance of discipline and self-control as well as various relaxation techniques.

During your time with our program, we have seen a decrease in aggressive incidents and assaults. Because of your presence you have opened various therapeutic doors for our staff to build ongoing positive relationships with the students. Staff have also expressed their appreciation in teaching them relaxation techniques and self defense.

Your time was invaluable and your presesence will be missed. Good luck in your future endeavors in your continued journey in healing our communities


Valerie Sowell, Project TEACH Program Assistant
Project TEACH stands for Treatment Education Activists Combating HIV. It is a community health education, advocacy, and activism program designed for and by adult men and women who are living with HIV and AIDS. In addition to offering nine intensive training courses per year, TEACH sponsors ongoing events and groups whose aim is to enrich the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS.

One of the groups that we host is Golden Breath Tai Chi™. SiBok Robert Kassof volunteers his time to provide training for this well-established program. It is open to all people who are living with or in some way deeply affected by HIV. The class started in July 1999 as an experimental three-month program with an option to renew. Because of the high demand for the class, this program has been extended for a year and a half, and the group of students is larger than ever. Dozens of Project TEACH graduates and peer educators have found the benefits of participating in the group instruction as well as the individual practice of Golden Breath Tai Chi™.

The students can testify to the benefits of Golden Breath Tai Chi. Ann says, “Golden Breath Tai Chi™ takes the aches and pains out of my body, and it helps me with my breathing.” Stephen added, “Overall, it helped my whole mental attitude. I look forward to getting up in the morning and doing it.” He also added that he sleeps better when he does tai chi three times a day. Michael says, “I started to have wasting, and my total muscle mass was below the normal range. The doctor wanted me to do all this resistance exercise and start a high protein diet. I started Golden breath Tai Chi instead. Now, I’ve had the same muscle tests twice, and both times, I was at the high end of the normal range. So, the tai chi stopped my wasting and gave me high energy – so much energy that I’m able to work part time, which I wasn’t able to do before. Also, I had problems with depression and bad self-image that have really lifted since I’ve been doing tai chi. These beautiful movements – that’s doing it for me.”

Maurine
As a new student and retired ordained minister, I have found Golden Breath Tai Chi™ to be thoroughly engaging. As a recently retired ordained minister, I decided to try Tai Chi as a form of exercise, meditation and learning. I found the classes welcoming and supportive, the teaching excellent, Tai Chi itself a fascinating kind of controlled, relaxed movement which invites the student to engage ever more deeply with it the more she/he learns. I enjoy the diversity of the students and I appreciate the non-profit status of Golden Breath American Tai Chi™ which allows it to offer this healing discipline/practice to those otherwise unable to participate. And I enjoy my own daily practice and the relaxation I find there.


 

Mike Maggiani
I was born with asthma and had been using an inhaler daily for most all of my life. I believed I was destined to have breathing problems and to be a slave to an inhaler for the rest of my life. But then I discovered Golden Breath™.  After four years of Golden Breath Tai Chi™, I no longer need the inhaler. I am now working with the students in class and helping teach new moves, which helps me in so many ways as well. Thank you Golden Breath™, for giving me my breath back!


Trish Carney
It would be giving too much away for me to list all of the physical problems I was experiencing at the start of my studies. It’s enough to say that, after many years of beating my body with sports, horses, childbirth, car accidents, etc., I was feeling older than my age – and not happy with the limits my old injuries were imposing on me.

Lacking the time and motivation to undertake a huge health make-over (you know the one, physical therapy or the gym, or, worse, a combination), I began to study Golden Breath™ as a stepping stone to get over a rough patch.This relaxed, inexpensive and deceivingly simple form of T’ai Chi has not only allowed me to regain flexibility and physical balance, but has given me invaluable tools for dealing with a life-long anxiety problem as well as teaching me enough basic self-defense to give me a self-confidence that I had possessed as a younger person.

Golden Breath™ is a secret, meant to be shared, that anyone can benefit from in a number of ways. I can’t recommend it highly enough!


Robert Effel
Tai-chi was recommended to me by a registered nurse who has been working with me on breathing techniques at the hospital I go to for medical treatment.  She told me that I could observe a class on a Saturday and decide if I was interested in joining a class.  I was only observing for a little while when an instructor had me up and learning the beginning positions.  I liked the class and started going on a regular basis thereafter.

The instructors at Golden Breath™ Tai-Chi have been extremely helpful and the best thing they do is constantly reminding youthat they were in the beginning stages, also.  The students take an interest in you right away, are very friendly and are willing to take the time to help you when you are learning a new movement.  I have been looking for this type of environment for a long time and I am trying to return the friendship that I have been given.

I have been opposed to working-out type exercises ever since I took a weightlifting course in college.  After class, I tried playing basketball and I couldn’t play because my muscles were tightened by the stress of heavy exercise.  I chose to be able to play sports like basketball, baseball and tennis.  In Tai-chi, there is no stress on the body at all.  As a matter of fact, you are taught not to exceed your space.  The movements are designed to help your body and not the opposite.

To sum up:  Tai-chi is a combination of breathing and movement.  By properly breathing while you move, you are able to make your body more efficient in using the oxygen we need.  One other benefit that I have found is that I always wanted to take dancing lessons and by doing Tai-chi, I can dance and not be self-conscious about it.  Learning American Golden Breath Tai Chi™ has been nothing but a positive experience for me.


Rev. Kenneth J. White, testimonial poem:

Golden Breath™

I listened to Wisdom and he sang me a dance
The movement was stillness and the stillness is vast

He spoke of the sky and showed me the sea
He talked of his children, the Yin and the Yang
He said they were ancient and yet he is young

He claims twenty-seven I added this up
The two and the seven come out to be nine
The number of completion that replenishes itself

Grandfather gave me a feather and blew it away
Meditation and motion were married that day
I cried at their wedding and started the dance
Their gifts were from God and He gave them to man

As profound as a sunset and all that’s beyond
As natural as leaves swaying from the breath of a breeze

Thank you, Grandfather, for the dance that you sang
Thank you for the wisdom of wind

The steps are healing of spirit from the rhythm within
So I bow to you, Sibok, for the Golden Breath™ way


Richard A. Wallace
I am 68 years old and have been a student of Tai Chi for about two and a half years. After a few months as a student I started to realize that I felt better both physically and mentally. This feeling made me want to improve even more, and this desire led me to a structured exercise program that for the first time in my life I wanted to do this for me.

While working myself up to the ranks from seaman recruit to a major, we always were forced to stay in fairly good physical fitness. While I was forced into this military fitness program I did it because I was ordered to do so, not because I wanted to. As I look back it was just something else we all had to do. I find that Tai Chi does more than any physical fitness program has ever done; it changed the way that I felt about myself. The change did not come all at once or in a few weeks. It was quite slow and subtle, but none the less profound.

I feel that for anyone who wants to improve their quality of life, Golden Breath™ should be considered — age and physical disability is not a factor in this equation. I want to thank Sibok and all the other students for helping me learn and enjoy this thing called Tai Chi, and I want to say in closing: Tai Chi can do no harm, only good things will happen to you.


Maggie Newman Basic T’ai Chi, Inc., New York, NY
April 1, 2001; RE: Letter of Support for Sibok and Golden Breath Tai Chi™ & Chi Gung
I teach T’ai Chi Ch’uan in Philadelphia and New York City on a weekly basis, as well as guest teaching in other states, and have been studying T’ai Chi since 1962. I was a senior student of Master Cheng Man-C’hing and teach the Yang style of T’ai Chi Ch’uan.

I have known Jeffrey Cohen over the past eighteen years. Jeffrey is a former student who studied with me for approximately four years. Jeffrey had been sent to study with me by his kung fu teacher at that time, and he is his teacher’s most senior student. Since that time I have enjoyed many conversations with him about the principles of our work. Jeffrey was so inspired by this T’ai Chi teacher, that I wanted to meet him.

I went to visit Sibok at his house and we immediately developed a rapport. Sibok is a teacher of the Golden Breath Tai Chi™ and Chi Gung system. After that, I was pleased to observe Sibok teaching Golden Breath Tai Chi™ to his students. The greatest testimony to his teaching is to see what his students are like. I observed the benefits of his teaching in his students. I observed qualities in his students which I admired: 1) they were open, loving, and accepting of newcomers in their group; 2) I observed Sibok’s healing of sick people; 3) I understand that some of the youngsters have recovered from drug addictions. Additionally, I traveled to several youth detention centers in Philadelphia where Sibok volunteered his time to work with many teenagers. Sibok demonstrated the perfect balance of disciplining them firmly and loving them fully.

The movements of the Golden Breath Tai Chi™ Ch’uan have the principles of all T’ai Chi – attempting to manifest a balanced and full life force which is a harmonious, flowing, round expression of yin and yang. Each T’ai Chi form is a microcosm, copying the principles of the universe. All the teachers have preferences as to what they hold high in their T’ai Chi form. Because of my lack of experience with the Golden Breath form, I cannot distinguish between Sibok’s emphasis and what is specific to the Golden Breath Tai Chi™ form. But what I see is a wonderful expression of the Chi coming out – the fullness of the movements, and the love with which Sibok works with his students to accomplish this. This makes everyone happy and of course is very beneficial for the health.

I whole-heartedly support Sibok and his students in their endeavors. I am grateful to have met Sibok and interacted with his group.


Eduardo Costa Meto
My name is Eduardo. I started practicing Golden Breath American Tai Chi™ several months ago and since then I have increased my pulmonary capacity. I had asthma from a young age and used to use my inhaler 2 – 3 times a day. Today I practice Tai Chi daily and I have not had to use the inhaler for the last two months.

Mike Maggiani
Before I started taking classes at Golden Breath™, I suffered two serious brain injuries. The first injury was the result of a motorcycle accident. The other was due to an assault by a man who clobbered me mercilessly with a bedpost. From these incidents, I suffered paralysis of the right side of my body and an injury to my foot, which required surgery among other physical problems.

I noticed after just a few weeks of tai-chi class that I stopped picking my fingernails. I have had this annoying habit for as long as I can remember. Most likely, the moves of tai-chi gave me discipline and focus that I no longer needed to continue this bad habit.

When I use to drive I would hold onto the steering wheel as tight as I could. Now I’m relaxed after doing tai-chi moves and I don’t have the need to grip the wheel like I once did. Before starting Golden Breath™, I used to frequently break out with rashes on my back. The exercises definitely healed my back and now I only get rashes about once a year. Tai Chi increases circulation in your body.

Golden Breath American Tai Chi™ has really been a blessing to me. I’m healthier and now my movements flow like water. I increasingly improve physically as I continue with the class and practice my moves at home. Besides my physical improvement I am more focused. I have also made many friends from the Golden Breath classes. I feel comfortable with a lot of them as I am always joking with them. I always enjoy going on trips with Sibok and the class.


Barry Williams, Operations Manager,Village Prep. Family Service of Philadelphia
For the past three years that you have volunteered your time for teaching Tai Chi, staff and students at Village Prep have benefited from your teaching. Students have learned the importance of discipline and self-control as well as various relaxation techniques.

During your time with our program, we have seen a decrease in aggressive incidents and assaults. Because of your presence you have opened various therapeutic doors for our staff to build ongoing positive relationships with the students. Staff have also expressed their appreciation in teaching them relaxation techniques and self defense.

Your time was invaluable and your presesence will be missed. Good luck in your future endeavors in your continued journey in healing our communities.

Jim Roach, Philadelphia, PA
Starting in 1997 I began noticing my writing was getting worse than usual and my walking was becoming unstable. I went to several doctors and chiropractors who told me the problem was with my spine/back. After repeated spinal manipulations and various medications I went to a neurologist in 1999 who informed me I had a form of Parkinson’s Disease called Parkinson’s Syndrome. By this time I was having difficulty with my motor skills and was stiff like a board in my movements. I tried various medications but they seemed to have little or no effect on my stiffness. My doctor thought maybe physical therapy would help and sent me to Pennsylvania Hospital to try physical therapy at the Parkinson’s Disease Center who specializes in this type therapy. At one of the sessions two instructors from Golden Breath American Tai Chi™ came to put on a demonstration of how Tai Chi works and helps with movement. I was very skeptical at first but when they observed how stiff I was they made it a point to pay special attention to me and try to get me to do some of the exercises. They then told me when and where classes were held and I should come and take the classes.

After several weeks of telling my wife I was not interested I finally gave in and we went to our first class and gave it a shot. Let me make this clear – this was the best investment I have ever made in my life. I love this program and the instructors and people attending are the greatest. The founder of the program, Sibok Robert Kassof, immediately noticed my problems and assured me that his system could help me gain back my mobility. I have been attending classes once or twice a week for the past three years and have attained the rank of High Junior. My motor skills are almost back to normal and the movements and breathing exercises have changed my life. I make sure that I am able to make class at least once a week and would highly recommend this class to anyone who has difficulty with motor skills or to anyone who wants to participate in a exercise program that will dramatically change their life for the better.

Although I know Tai Chi is not a cure for Parkinson’s Syndrome or any other disease it surely has given me the ability to live my life in a way that I never expected after my diagnosis and the future looks a whole lot brighter for my family and myself. No matter how hard I tried I could never thank all the instructors who took me under their wings and never let me give up and helped me reach the level I am enjoying today.

I can never say this enough times but anyone who wants to enjoy a fantastic program, whether or not you have a medical or physical problem, please give Golden Breath American Tai Chi™ a chance and you will never regret it for the rest of your life.


Scott Newman, Philadelphia, PA
It’s been nearly 20 years since I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. In the past five years, I have been studying Golden Breath Tai Chi™. I’ve always been a bit of a skeptic, but I have no doubt at all that this has been the major factor in the functionality I have been able to maintain. When I first started learning the system developed by Sibok Robert Kassof, I needed a cane to balance while walking. Now I’m able to walk unassisted, and recently was able to navigate the steps at the Spectrum Stadium even though there were no railings. Other than Golden Breath Tai Chi™, there have been no other changes in my treatments or therapies. My physician said he was surprised I wasn’t in a wheelchair! I cannot explain it, but I am now able to accomplish things that I never though I would be able to. I’ve been able to hold down a full-time job and while it may seem trivial, the ability to accomplish the everyday tasks that most people take for granted is a true miracle. Recently, I have made the rank of High Junior, and have also been sharing this miracle with an M.S. support group.

Imelda So, North Hollywood, CA
Over the past ten years I have been having severe pain all over my muscles & joints (including the jaw bone). I saw numerous doctors, specialists, & physical therapists but I didn’t experience any major improvement in my symptoms. I felt that my body was “falling apart” and that I was slowly wasting away. Also I noticed that as I grew older I tended to trip a lot over things.

In November, 2004 I was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which is an inflammation of the muscles & joints. Statistics indicate 30,000,001 Americans have it (I’m the “1” in the thirty million one figure!).

My knowledgable, caring, & highly-respected rheumatologist, Dr. Susan Buhay of West Covina, California recommended among other things that I take up a less strenuous form of exercise like Tai Chi. I’ve always heard of Tai Chi but never really tried to learn it. Fortunately in January, 2005 Providence St. Joseph Hospital in Burbank, California announced a Tai Chi class (under instructor Pete Bowen) which I joined in February, 2005 with my two friends.

It’s been a year now since I took up Tai Chi. Nowadays I HARDLY TRIP, and my fibromyalgia episodes have been FEWER & LESS PAINFUL (although when my muscles/joints swell, I look like I gained 10 pounds!) I thank God for introducing me to Golden Breath American Tai Chi™ not only for the above reasons but also for the relaxation, camaraderie, & fun times we have in class.

Our instructor (who is younger than most of us) is a cool but patient guy. Unfortunately he developed a couple of gray hairs since he started teaching us!!! However, if one sees the class doing the Tai Chi movements together, one cannot help but say “This is Pete Bowen’s creation; his work of art”. We are the living evidence of his teachings–illness or otherwise.

My only regret is that we didn’t have a chance (not yet) to meet Pete’s SiBok, the founder/collaborator of Golden Breath American Tai Chi™, the individual who taught Pete what he is currently teaching us. I hope one day he can come to Los Angeles, California to watch our class in action so he can see that his legacy, which filtered down to Pete Bowen, is also filtering down to us. We all look forward to meeting SiBok in person rather than just in cyberspace.


Sister Cecile Reiley, Sisters of Saint Joseph
I have had rheumatoid arthritis for 28 years, so the disease had a long time to do its work on my joints. To give me relief from the pain associated with RA my rheumatologist would see me monthly and give me several injections of a cortisone preparation into whatever joints were causing the most trouble: hips, fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, feet, back.

Two years ago I met a wonderful physical therapist who advised me to practice Tai Chi. I began to attend weekly classes as much as possible. When I began classes I had to sit on a chair because my feet could not sustain me for an entire period. Now, after two years of practice, I need no chair for class, my range of motion for my joints has improved, and my next visit with my rheumatologist has been scheduled for four months from now!

Words fail to convey the gratitude I have for SiBok who, with great expertise, instructs us faithfully and patiently to learn the principles of Tai Chi — also called the “Dance of the Angels” and “Golden Breath.”

When I started the Tai Chi class of Golden Breath™, I had no idea of the extent of the benefits this would bring to me. SiBok Kassof, the instructor of Golden Breath™ and founder of this unique form of Tai Chi, brought changes in my life that I never could have predicted. My whole being, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual has improved immensely since joining the class in October.

I called SiBok when I knew that I could commit to his class on a regular basis. I found the Tai Chi instructor to be very caring. My gut feeling was confirmed on that first day I started his class. SiBok, who knew my condition, stated, “Jeff, you are in the right place and you are meant to be here”. This thought was very touching to me because I’m a very spiritual person, and I believe that circumstances don’t just happen by chance but for a reason. SiBok’s classes are very welcoming, as the class celebrates everyone’s birthday. They have social outings, including cruises at discount prices.

I first learned of the classes at a Dystonia support group which I attend due to a movement disorder caused by several years of taking medication. The name of the disease is Tardive Dyskinesia and has symptoms similar to Parkinson’s Disease.

I was introduced to Golden Breath American Tai Chi™ at my Dystonia support group in Paoli at their Saturday afternoon meeting. Karen, one of the instructors, gave a presentation of this unique form of Tai Chi, which emphasizes breathing as well as movement. When the presenters had the support group do the exercises in front of the class, I was very nervous. I just felt awkward doing these exercises in front of everybody. However, Karen, Ruth, and Tommy encouraged me to join the class in my neighborhood.

When I went to that first class on that Sunday afternoon in October, I was plagued with a myriad of problems. I could hardly put my left foot flat on the ground, and I mostly could only walk on the tips of my toes, as I struggled to walk even short distances. Coupled with this problem was my labored breathing, which frequently caused strangers to be concerned about my health. My breathing problem was so apparent they probably assumed that I was having an asthma attack, or worse, a heart attack.

Along with these physical ailments, I also would frequently grimace, a predominant symptom of this little known disorder (TD). My head would shake appearing as I had a nervous tic, but actually all the movements are involuntary and physically controlled by the nervous system. I also had no lateral movement of my neck. I frequently had trouble just turning my head to the side. In addition, a few years ago I had surgery on my hands because I had trouble straightening my fingers due to consistent computer use. After the operation, I couldn’t cup my hands to clap at a sporting event or concert like I once did.

Now after 9 months of class, all of the symptoms have miraculously dissipated. Furthermore, other physical benefits have occurred. While my cholesterol was usually around 300, now since I do the Tai Chi movements, it is 123. Also, as a diabetic, I am very concerned about my sugar. Currently, my sugar reading is half of what it once was. Not only has my cholesterol and sugar improved, I have also lost over 30lbs since my first class. People are astonished with how well I look.

Perhaps the most dramatic improvement I saw initially was when I went to visit my cousins in Florida last year. As I visited the tourist attractions and theme parks in Orlando, I needed a scooter to get around the park because of my physical difficulties. When returning this year, I amazed myself as well as my cousins by walking around the theme parks all day without assistance and without getting out of breath. This is when I first realized how much the class meant to me.

My problems with walking extended to my daily life as well. I had to persevere just to walk around the corner, given the difficulty with my gait, footing, and shortness of breath. Now I can walk at a fast clip, with an even gait and with very little effort. In fact, I actually enjoy walking now for the first time in many years. In addition to all of my improvements with walking, I can show my appreciation when attending concerts and sporting events because I am able to cup my hands to clap freely without the self-consciousness that I used to feel. All of my Tardive Dyskinesia symptoms have greatly improved including the grimacing, which is less frequent, my head no longer shakes, and I can turn my head where I can see behind me. The movements I learned in class have also relaxed my shoulders, added muscle tone, and improved my concentration. I have more focus since joining the class and have been reading books and newspapers regularly. With these improvements, I have regained my confidence.

I can’t say enough about the Tai Chi class. There have been so many improvements that I may have forgotten a few. I would like to thank SiBok Kassof for his dedication and love. I also want to thank Pat Cairo, who I work with independently each week. Pat is patient and has confidence in me and encourages me greatly. I highly recommend Golden Breath™ to people with and without physical difficulties. By dedicating yourself to this discipline, you can witness personal growth and develop a more positive outlook on life.

Golden Breath
American Tai Chi

2417 Welsh Road
Suites 214-215
Blue Grass Shopping Center
Philadelphia, PA 19114
(GPS : 2446 Gregg St.)

215.745.4047 ♦ 215.783.5459

 

 

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