Perseverance with Tai
interviewed by Instructor Lis
Eight or nine years ago, a group of Maryís friends
decided a weekly dinner out would be a good idea. Someone suggested
they do a Tai Chi class first and then go on to a restaurant.
the foursome signed up at Dickson. For two terms, they went to Tai Chi,
followed by dinner in Woolley Street.
As they advanced, unfortunately, the class time altered
to 7.30pm. Dinner was under threat! Maryís three friends dropped out
of Tai Chi, but she continued on to complete the traditional Yang form.
What made her continue alone, when the original purpose
for the group had been a social outing and an excuse to meet for
ďI liked the challenge of learning the movements. I
didnít find it easy because it was different from anything else I had
ever done. However, I found it interesting and thought there would be
long term benefits. I took it on trust that what the instructor was
saying about those benefits was true and would come in time.
I found the Quiet
particularly difficult. After some months, I had a very strong
emotional reaction which really surprised me. Tears would begin
streaming down my cheeks. Focusing on the Dan Tian produced a strong
burning sensation ó like being consumed by flames. It was very
Occasionally, students will report a similar reaction to
this practice. Calming, relaxing and opening the mind allows deep
seated emotions to surface, often emotions the student is unaware of, or
Mary completed over a year with the Academy. However,
other things intervened for a time and she didnít return until 2001.
This time the Quiet Standing
Qigong was much
more enjoyable. For some reason, she didnít experience the teariness at
all and was able to relax and enjoy the practice.
ďĎItís at the level of being less
bothered by things I cannot change that I have the greatest benefit.
I am sure Iím happier than if I hadn't started Tai Chi.
This whole qi thing is a bit of a mystery, really.
My husband (also an Academy student) says he feels warmth when he
practices, but I feel a strong pulsating, a throbbing which isnít my
heart beat. Itís a different manifestation. Strange.Ē
When the Academy changed to the Hun Yuan system, Mary
embraced the change.
ďI believe now I have a better understanding of using my
whole body from
working on the Hun Yuan 24 form. The main thing I miss (and I know I
could practise it myself) is the leg strength from the Tai Chi Walking.
In Refinement, we work on the softness, relaxing the
shoulders and gaining more rotation in the waist and joints. Having
different teachers is really good. I usually attend twice a week and I
learn something from each class.
Sometimes I do a movement and think
'Oh, that felt good'.
the instructor will correct some other aspect of stance or angle I
wasnít aware of. You canít get too pleased with yourself because things
can fall apart so easily.
I like the way the Refinement classes are pitched at all
levels ó those just coming into that class and those who have been
around for years ó and there is no particular pressure on anyone. I
really appreciate the instructorís ability to pick apart the movements
and help us gain knowledge of our own bodies. Itís easy to be deluded
as to what oneís own body is doing
or not doing!Ē
One of Maryís reasons for returning to classes was to
maintain flexibility as she grew older. Arthritis in the wrists was
another. Both areas have improved and the arthritis doesnít bother her
at all. ďThe Bang (Stick) really helped with that and I know Iím far
more flexible than many of my contemporaries. Itís hard to tell, but
Iím sure Tai Chi has made a difference.Ē
Maryís husband and son also attend classes. Two years
ago, Mary and her husband went on the China trip.
ďMy most enduring memory of the China trip will be the
mountains, particularly Huashan. Not only for their extraordinary
beauty, but for the human work over a very long period which has made
them accessible, and the stamina and the courage of the people who still
work there. Other highlights included visiting the enormous Martial
Arts school near Shaolin, the bustle and variety of the cities and
watching the rice and corn harvest. Having one side of the long
stretches of road spread with the grain harvest was not what I
expected. But when spare, flat space is at a premium . . .
Although I have found the mental benefits are, if
anything, the more important factor, there are definite physical
improvements, too. Itís certainly easier to maintain balance, stumbles
are less likely to cause ankle damage, some joints no longer grate when
used, turning is easier and my arthritic wrists seem much better.
We bushwalk, and every time we go out, one or the other
of us will say, after safely navigating a rough patch, ďGee, Iím glad I
do Tai Chi.í ď
(This is an actual interview, but the name
has been changed for reasons of privacy.)