Dragon Crane is pleased to launch wellness exercise classes designed for people who have Parkinson's disease. Morning classes will be available in-person and online beginning in March 2023. These classes are designed to bring brain and body together to build strength, flexibility and balance. Our Wednesday class is currently pending, but the Thursday Class is now open! Enroll here.

About Parkinson's Disease

Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects dopamine-producing neurons in the brain. According to the Parkinson’s Foundation, nearly one million people in the U.S. and 10 million people across the globe live with PD, making it the second most common neuro-degenerative disease after Alzheimer’s.  Most people associate PD with its visible motor symptoms, including tremor, slow movement, stiffness, and difficulty with balance. PD can also present a host of non-motor symptoms, however, such as depression, constipation, disordered sleep, loss of the sense of smell, and cognitive impairment. There is no cure for Parkin-son’s. Current treatment includes medication, surgery, and lifestyle changes, including exercise.

Movement is Medicine

Exercise is a vital component to maintaining functional 
 balance, mobility and cognition in daily activities. Parkinson's Foundation researcher, Stephanie Combs-Miller, found that people who exercise 2.5-3 hours a week are more likely to see benefits such as improved gait, balance, posture, endurance, memory, and concentration as well as decreased falls, freezing, depression, and anxiety. Forced, intense movement, like boxing, karate, and dance, is especially beneficial for people who experience symptoms associated with Parkinson's. Other forms of movement such as qigong, drumming offer equally beneficial intensity. 

Why Karate and Qigong?

Dragon Crane teaches Shaolin Kenpo Karate and Ting Sing Qigong. Both of these arts deliver Attention State Training – achieving a state of mind and body leading to more efficient self-regulation. Training requires active cognition, while engaging High Intensity Interval movement through repetitive forms and sequences. With these arts, students may experience mental restoration and fatigue release, which encourages the autonomic nervous system to further regulate the brain. 

Oxygen and Blood Flow - feeding brain and body
The brain is the biggest consumer of oxygen in the body. Key cardiovascular elements of our programs increase the flow of blood and therefore proteins and oxygen to the brain, helping it to help itself.

Neurotransmitters - made by the brain, used by the body 
Exercise increases dopamine and serotonin production which can improve mind-body
connection in a number of key functional areas like pain processing, mood, and movement.

Attention State Training - connecting brain and body
Attention State Training changes the state of mind and the state of body to improve balance, reflex, cognition through sustained focus endogenously. This transfers to other areas of attentional control in our daily lives.

Hemispheric Synchronization - calming the mind
Rhythmic sound activity performed together in groups can trigger both the right and left sides of the brain to work at the same time. This not only produces a feeling of calm, but also helps improve information processing, ability to move and maintain balance.

Elements of the Dragon Crane program

Each of the 3 Dragon Crane classes includes the following elements of training specifically beneficial to people who have Parkinson's Disease. 

Dual Task Training – Performing two moves at once

Intensity Inhibition – Stop start, aerobic, high intensity interval training

Cognitive Training – Choreographed sequences challenge the mind

Kinesthetic Balance – improves spacial awareness, large motor

In the context of karate and qigong, these training elements can help ease the symptoms of PD such as Rigidity, Bradykinesia (delayed reaction), Gait, Sensory Integration, Postural Instability, and Agility. Here's what you can expect with each class.

Strength and balance. Blended elements of attention state training unique to karate, along with the balance and breath work of Ting Sing Qigong. Students learn classic punches, blocks and footwork with core qigong movements to develop internal power. 

Core stability and agility. This class introduces the choreographed movements with music, followed by high intensity training common in martial arts. Class ends with short form from Level 1 Ting Sing Qigong.  

Tuesday and Thursday classes can be taken together or separately. They share training elements, and each class follows a schedule of warm-up, aerobic with high intensity, full body agility work, choreographed memory work and cooldown. The karate elements are modified individually for each student's abilities. Read more about the Parkinson's Class Outline


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What People Say


I have been taking QiGong classes with Sifu Robyn for several months now and can feel the beneficial effects in my body and mind. I always feel better after every class. Sometimes, during the class I think this is so simple and slow, how can it be helpful? I feel the meditative benefits of the movements with the deep focused breath work. I feel improvements with my balance and strength. I had a goal of being able to play Pickleball and I am now doing it! I'm very grateful for this experience.


I have really enjoyed the Qi Gong class you offer. What I love about the class:
- getting grounded
- movement - muscles I don't use every day
- massaging my internal organs
- getting healthier, stronger, better balance
- the pace is perfect for me at this time.
Many of the movements we do are similar and reinforce my P.T. exercises.
Thank you so much for offering us this opportunity
~ Kelly


As I age, Qigong is the perfect class for me. Anyone at any age or physical ability can learn and practice it. No special equipment or clothing is needed. It meets me where I am on any given day.
The in-person class setting with time for questions, explanations and demonstrations is very helpful.
As a result of the class I have noticed an increase in my energy level. I am less stressed. I feel physically and emotionally stronger and more flexible. The benefits are subtle yet profound which reflect my opinion of the actual practice as well.
~ Susan

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Dragon Crane opens doors to classes and events to anyone seeking to learn, regardless of physical or financial ability.

We’re proud to support an open, inviting, safe community where people of all ages, backgrounds, shapes and sizes can come together
to move, connect, grow, break boundaries and build bonds.