By Jennifer Nall
Students from age 9 to 90 benefit with better focus . concentration . balance and much, much more
And, yes, the 70-year-old man’s name really is Tai, which even he admits is an amusing coincidence. “I started studying tai chi when I was 9 years old – my grandpa forced me,” he told the Herald-Guide, noting that he kept it up after he fled China and moved to the United States in the mid-1960s.
“Tai chi is good for health,” he continues.
“It improves balance in all areas of your life – the physical, the mental and the spiritual. Other benefits include reduction of stress and anxiety, and also increased coordination and flexibility.
“The movements help circulate blood from the top of the head to the bottom of the feet. Tai chi is good exercise.”
The martial art consists of slow, relaxed and seemingly effortless “forms” that Tai, of Metairie, describes as “a moving meditation.”
But he’s quick to note that tai chi – which was developed in China about 700 years ago, in the 1300s – is “a serious system of self defense.”
And, unlike some tai chi instructors, he shows students different techniques for different purposes: those that help you relax and reduce stress – and those that, under life-and-death circumstances, could be used to incapacitate, maim or even kill an assailant.
“The movements are gentle, yes, but don’t be fooled,” he says.
“You also can use them to defend yourself, even though it’s clear that most tai chi classes offered today are primarily for relaxation, stress-reduction and exercise.”
In fact, Tai says he’s seen students bring stress-related health problems under control simply by taking up tai chi.
But tai chi isn’t only for the sick and aged. Tai chi is for people of all ages, says Tai.
“My oldest student is 91 and my youngest is 5,” he continues.
“Tai chi is good for younger people because you learn focus and concentration, techniques that can be applied to their studies in school.”
Tai teaches beginner and intermediate classes at Hahnville High School through the St. Charles Parish School’s continuing education program.
He also teaches at the University of New Orleans, Delgado Community College and every Saturday at Audubon Park.