Tai Chi Brings a Fresh Outlook on Life
interviewed by Instructor Lis
events in Mick’s recent past sound like a ‘Good news, Bad news’ story.
He related two most extraordinary tales of luck with his customary
cheerful, positive attitude, and is convinced he owes his survival and
good recovery to Tai Chi.
has always been an active person, practising karate and various team
sports. However, in 2005, he realised that something was very wrong
with his health, when he couldn’t participate properly in his weekly
Indoor Cricket match. A visit to his GP and subsequent specialists
resulted in major chest surgery. The operation was deemed by one doctor
to be very risky, but the next advised him that without it, he would be
dead by Christmas. He went ahead and had the surgery. His surgeon told
him he was lucky to be alive, as the condition could have proven fatal
at any moment.
back to karate afterwards, but met with a very unsympathetic attitude
from the instructor and his fellow students. No-one took into account
his relatively fragile recovery state during training and particularly,
sparring. Mick didn’t want to stop his active lifestyle so when a
friend suggested he try Tai Chi, he did. He was immediately hooked and
maintains it changed his life.
was his first instructor at Wanniassa. He remembers being very
impressed by his peaceful manner. Brett’s lack of arrogance and quiet
confidence was in stark contrast to his previous martial arts
instructors. “Brett didn’t show off. He didn’t need to. I really
respected that attitude.”
2003, he fell from a ladder and did the splits. This resulted in a
stiff hip joint and reduced flexibility on that side of his body.
During his whole karate involvement, the hip never improved, but within
a year of starting Tai Chi, he has noticed a major increase in movement.
this year, Mick continued his career as a faller-off things. He fell
through his neighbour’s garage roof while retrieving a tennis ball hit
by his son.
a couple of steps, but I didn’t realise I was standing on a Perspex
panel until I heard a crack. I thought ‘Oh no!’, then it gave way
and I fell straight down. I went feet first, missed the car but
hit the bumper. As I landed, I collapsed and relaxed rather than
tensing up, but the bumper slammed into my lower back near the kidneys.
I fell sideways, and my elbow went through some old sheets of glass
propped against the wall. Glass went everywhere. Then my
head hit a pillar and I was dazed for a bit. I was lucky I missed
the chainsaw which was also leaning against the wall.
I didn’t think I’d broken my back because I could walk.
However, that night, the area where the bumper had hit throbbed with the
most excruciating pain, worse than my earlier operation. I went to the
hospital the next day. They said I had no fractures and my kidneys were
undamaged, but I had severe deep tissue bruising. I was incredibly
I did some very slow Tai Chi movements over the next few
days, because I didn’t want the ligaments and muscles to become stiff
and tight. I was so sore that I could hardly move at first. Within
three or four days, I was very pleased to find that I was able to move
quite well. As a result of this rapid improvement, I found that I had
missed just one and a half weeks of classes. I’m sure my recovery was
so fast because of my condition before the accident and the fact I was
able to do some gentle exercises almost immediately to help. I
thoroughly recommend Tai Chi as a healing tool.”
uses some of the warm-ups and Silk Reeling (Chan Si Gong) exercises when
coaching his junior soccer team. “I think they’re great for the kids,
especially the Shoulder Rotation ‘chicken wings’. I tell them balance
is really important so we do the Leg Circling and Stepping exercise a
practises every day. He completes thirty or forty minutes of form
before he goes to bed, and five to ten minutes of Quiet Standing at some
time during the day. “It’s refreshing and rejuvenating. I don’t feel
comfortable until I’ve done my practice. It’s like having breakfast or
cleaning my teeth. I need to do it.” He even manages a couple of
minutes of meditation in the shower each morning, while shampooing and
conditioning his hair.
Chi has really changed my life. My concentration has improved
immensely. I always had lower back and knee problems. I visited the
chiropractor regularly, about ten times a year – cost me hundreds of
dollars – but I haven’t been since I started Tai Chi. If my back is a
little sore, I know which exercises to do and the pain goes away.”
was challenging for Mick at first, despite his sporty lifestyle and the
years of karate training. “My co-ordination was really bad. It looked
so easy but I couldn’t organise my arms and legs. I was very stiff and
inflexible. Karate did nothing to improve that, I realise now, because
within a year, my flexibility improved. I forced myself to slow right
down so I could learn the movements. I practised them really slowly so
I could understand the separate parts.”
keep practising Tai Chi for the rest of my life and I tell everybody the
role it’s played in my life. It’s given me a fresh outlook.”
from the bad news of major, life risking surgery came the good news of
firstly survival, and secondly, Mick’s introduction to Tai Chi.
(This is an actual interview, but the name
has been changed for reasons of privacy.)