Interns Get Their Chi On!| 3 min read

Taichi Class

Tai Chi – or T’ai chi ch’uan (太极拳) is an extremely popular kind of Chinese martial arts practiced throughout centuries. I don’t know about you guys, but when I think “martial arts” I think kicking, punching and insane fighting a little a la “Karate Kid”. But a quick google search proved me wrong on that one.

Tai Chi connects the body and mind, kind of like a moving meditation, practiced for its defence training and its health benefits. More searching also told me that some smart people have traced Tai Chi’s origins back to the 11th century and a Chinese monk named Chang San-feng. Now you probably think “what’s so special about that fellow?” Well, rumour has it that the monk lived for 200 years! That’s what I call some pretty awesome health benefits! Furthermore the characters’ literal translation means “supreme ultimate force” – and who doesn’t want that?!  That’s all the facts you’ll need to know to suddenly be very interested in learning Tai Chi, am I right?!
So Thursday afternoon’s culture class was packed with excited young people, eager to receive information from Howard and ready for an hour of “learning by doing”.

The first basic instructions was to bend a little in the knees and hold the hands in front of the body; “like you’re holding balloons on your belly” was the explanation from Howard. Furthermore people were told not to think at all and just let the body work. Yeah, right – as if that is possible when your body has never moved in those ways before!

Hereafter were the five basic moves introduced, and the first lost looks appeared on people’s faces. However, this was replaced with laughter as soon as we were introduced to the names of the moves (what was the names, by the way? I only remember they were weird). The only sound breaking the concentration was the clicks of the camera and Howard’s instructions saying “lift your butt! Lift your butt!” only causing more laughter.

When the basic moves were mastered it was time to put it all together. A sideways walking/sliding with arms gesticulating in an almost dancing-a-la-John Travolta-way.

The last move was a test of flexibility. Chinese people love squatting and it almost seems as if their achilles tendons are longer than everybody else’s. This makes them capable of squatting down sideways without falling. As you can imagine there were a lot of falling from the western people in this group!

I don’t know how many people are Tai Chi masters after just one lesson, but I know some people are going to have a few sore muscles after the activities of the day. Or at least so I hope, so I won’t be the only one!

May you all live 200 years!

Rachel Yoon

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