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John Alton has over 35 years experience in East Asian Martial Arts, including two black belts in Korean and Okinawan karate, and 25 years experience with Chinese martial arts and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In 1987, he moved to Beijing, where he taught English at Beijing University and became the private student of the University’s martial arts coach, who was also one of the leading Qigong masters there. After a two-year apprenticeship, he returned to the U.S. where he began teaching Chinese martial arts and Qigong. During that time, he published two books: Living Qigong and Unified Fitness. Unified Fitness introduced a Western reinterpretation of Qigong called "Reflective Exercise (RE)".
A 2004 study conducted by the UVA School of Medicine showed that RE reduced the rates of respiratory infection by 70% in swimmers who practiced regularly. The results of the study were reported to the Assistant Secretary of Defense and the U.S. Army War College. In 2005 the UVA Cancer Center began testing the effects of RE on cancer patients undergoing conventional cancer therapy. In 2006, RE became available on DVD.
John has recently completed his third book Pulse: Reflective Exercise and the Mind-body Reformation. The book focuses on a subset of simplified Qigong practices that were developed in China’s martial arts and sports institutes, to produce in the practitioner a pulsing sensation that can be directed by breath and muscular manipulation to travel up and down a pathway from lower abdomen to head. Recent and ongoing research at the University of Virginia suggests that sensing the pulse constitutes an ability to control the immunity cardio- and autonomic nervous systems.