Thursday, 8 November 2012

Let's Tai Chi

As you get older things slow down. Your mind is still active, but the movements seem to be slower in catching up. I used to walk to town and walk back. The next step was walk to town and ride back on the local mini train. And today, I ride to town and ride back from town on the train. A perfect proof that things are not what they used to be. Coupled with the fact that now and again I might lose my balance, my feet don't go where they should, and I have broken my left arm twice: first the bottom part and afterwards the top part, you realised that either you do something about it or just hope that everything will be OK.

I decided to do something about it as far as possible. I am not the gymastic keep fit type, doing all sorts of exercises to torture the body, but then I discovered Tai Chi. Of course, I had heard of it and knew it was some sort of Chinese slow movement stuff, preferably done in a local park. Actually I have to thank two Forum friends who I have never met and are not to be found blogging. Just people that grew up in the same place as I did (East London) and we all belong to a Forum sharing these connections. One lady mentioned some time ago that she has been into Tai Chi for some years. Another lady said Tai Chi is the best thing that had happened to her. She also have problems and bought a DVD for beginners. She found it was perfect, so I decided let's try.

The DVD was available from Amazon, but they did not deliver to Switzerland. I was in England a couple of weeks ago, so ordered the DVD to be delivered to my friend's house and picked it up. Since then I have been getting into the exercises. Me, being me, I decided if you do something then do it properly. I searched for Tai Chi classes in my area, but found I would have to travel to Zürich to do them (one hour plus tram journey). This was not the idea. The local evening class institute only offered them in Aarau, which was again forty minutes by train and then I had a breakthrough. Switzerland is an organised country for the ill. They have organisations coverering all illnesses and there is something called the Rheuma League which is for those suffering from rhumatism, arthritus and all that jazz. I don't really know what I suffer from, but they were offering Tai Chi, so I jumped in and had my first hour this week.

There are a few courses during the week and they don't take more than ten people. In the course I joined in with, we are golden oldies - with the exception of two (we are also only women - so where are the men? Probably all too healthy to join). We all got changed into our comfortable clothes, light training shoes or socks with non-slip surfaces and I got to know everyone. One of the ladies is even english speaking from Ireland, although like me so many years in Switzerland and married to a Swiss that we decided to stick to Swiss German amongst the others as it would be more friendly. Four of us were more or less beginners and two had been Tai Chiing since last April. The teacher was not a golden oldie, about 20 years younger than the rest of us, but she was good. Understood our needs and did it very well. I quite enjoyed the hour - no stress just slow movements, sometimes accompanied by twangy Chinese music. That was the last part, more for the profis. The film  is  starring Stephen Luff, who seems to be the leading light for beginners and shows part of the actual DVD I have for beginners. 

For the first half hour we did these sort of exercies. The last half was more for the profis, although we all followed the steps. I do have a problem with balance and sometimes right and left (not a mystery that my youngest son is ambidextrous or that both sons are left handed). They must have got it from somewhere. Apparently my grandfather was lefthanded, so my dad said.

May brings us World Tai Chi Day. That is when all Tai Chi people go out in the parks, starting at ten in the morning local time and do their Tai Chi exercises all over the world. I don't know if I will be one of those, the lady leading the course says it takes quite a time but we will all get there (wishful thinking). I managed quite well, it was just the step to the right or left that confused me. My foot did not want to join my body and mind, but we all had our problem. I have joined for a year so let's hope that I survive.

All being well in a year I will be doing a sequence as shown in the following video (Stephen Luff once again). At least I hope so. So now you know what I am doing in my spare time.


  1. I was surprised to hear, in one of the vids, that there is such a thing as 'Tai Chi' competitions? I would have thought competitivness would go against the principals of it. Apparently not.

  2. The most difficult part of Tai Chi I have found up to now are learning the correct sequences. They have names and are not easy to learn. Many different movements combined - the competitions show who does the movements best of all. There are competitions. The Chinese are the experts, they grow up with it. you see them all over the place during the day in the different parks when they are not working.

  3. I think you took a very good decision... must be very relaxing and good for your balance and your joints... I've tried tai chi but I followed yoga lessons for years until my teacher moved and I never tried to find another one...

  4. Good decision, Pat! I have a few friends who feel much better since they have joined Tai Chi lessons. I can never say never but I don't envisage myself practicing it...

  5. I have thought of giving it a go but that is as far as it went. I don't seem to have the time for that sort of stuff.

  6. good for you Pat and thank you for the explanations and also the video. I doubt I will try it, though, I have been playing with the thought of joining the local Nia class,

    have to do something I agree as we grow older. I am very active though, with gardening and also at work, but I think I should do strength classes or cardio-vascular as well, except my one shoulder is not happy when at the gym, which is why I gave up last year. I broke my left shoulder and collar bone 15 years ago, being bucked off a horse, I was schooling.

    let's dance (_|_) (_\_) (_|_) (_/_)
    (_|_) (_\_) (_|_) (_/_) (_|_) (_\_) (_|_) (_/_) bow chicca bow wow chicca bow wow ........... I believe that is good for the tummy *grins*

  7. What a great idea - cold be something for me - at least to think about. Good onya!!