Before I went to the class I was excited, I had always wanted to try out a martial art. However I didn’t know what to expect. I knew it was a slower kind of martial art which used control and balance to give a workout and overall well being. So, I had gathered it wasn’t a matrix style martial art with back flips, high kicks and judo chops (much to my disappointment) but I was totally willing to give it a try.
On our first class, my friend and I were greeted by our instructor, a sweet little Chinese lady and a few other class regulars that were considerably older than us. They told us that it would be difficult at first but our instructor insured us that we would pick it up quickly.
We began by doing gentle stretching and breathing exercises, as a warm up I thought, but it actually went on for quite some time. I soon realised that they were relaxation techniques which enhance your concentration when you start the Tai chi moves and after a few more classes, I felt that they got you “into the zone”.
After this, we began following and copying every move our instructor did, for example slowly lifting one leg, turning to our side, pushing our hands out and so on and this was all done very slowly. We would also hold moves sometimes to enhance balance and control.
How can this be classed as exercise, let alone beneficial exercise when it is so slow? Tai chi works through the concepts of Ying and Yang, Chi (the flow of energy through the body) and Traditional Chinese medicine. It is thought that energy flows around the body through meridians. The positions in this martial art promote good health and well being by allowing smooth flow of this energy around the body and releasing blocked negative energy.
Although it was slow, at first I found it quite a challenge to copy the sequence, especially as the regulars were already familiar with it. So I didn’t feel as if I was reaping the rewards from the exercise, more trying to get the moves right. However, we began to pick it up quite quickly- according to our instructor when she told the rest of our class: “The young ones are good yes!”.
I was starting to think that I wouldn’t return for another class until the instructor suddenly pulled out a massively long samurai sword (plastic of course)! She lent us one too and we began swishing and thrusting this sword around combining it with side kicks and lunges- crouching tiger hidden dragon style, well almost. This worked our core muscles as well as teaching us valuable self defence moves. I really enjoyed this part, it felt liberating and attracted me to going back for another class.
So I actually recommend it to anyone, its refreshingly different and fun. You don’t feel like you are working out when you actually are- what could be better?! I am definitely planning on keeping it up once I return to Uni- Tai chi is the new Pilates!