Tai Chi - slow and solid strength builder
by Sandeep Karmakar
It was February 2012 when I thought of learning Tai Chi for first time and heard of Master Rennie Chong. I had stopped playing my favorite sport - Badminton, due to severe knee pain. I was not playing it for almost six months by then as I was not prepared to consume glucosamine tablets. My friend suggested to try out gentle movements type low impact exercise and I opted for Tai Chi as I was not so comfortable with swimming. At that time I was looking for something simple and effective, not so fancy but the healing exercise to ease the knee pain. I was fortunate to join Saturday morning classes near Bishan CC. I realized it later on that Saturday Bishan classes are thorough and intense that will give best insight and training of Tai Chi under Shi Fu's vigilant guidance.
Tai Chi was not simple as it seemed to be. Five students similar to my age started the class same time. I thought that I was relatively active over the years but Tai Chi turned out to be a monumental task for me to sustain full one hour warm-up exercises. Many a times I almost fainted. Shifu could identify the time when I was about to get exhausted then he would advise me to step aside, drink some water, rest for few moments and encourage to join again. Slowly I could follow 37 step Yang style Tai Chi forms.
After one year of Tai Chi training and watchful guidance of Shi Fu, I was confident that I can now try and play badminton again. Yes, I am really able to play badminton since then, without any major knee pains.
Due to work commitments and annual holiday seasons I was very irregular in attending the classes. I was hesitant to join the classes again as I used to find myself as odd-man-out from others. Shifu arranged to call me back and I am very delighted to be part of Tai Chi again.
I could see students from all nationalities. Shi Fu will always explain, in English, the intricate details of Tai Chi, importance of appropriate postures, the benefits of regular practice and correct breathing. Master Chong and Teacher Jaleen had been very patient and attending to each student with care and kindness in the Saturday classes.
I took quite some time to change my approach to Tai Chi, from a simple exercise routine for relaxation or building strength to start practicing it as a martial art form and achieve Yin-Yang balance. It is still a very long way to understand and excel in Tai Chi but I am sure under guidance of Shi Fu Chong, Teacher Jaleen and my senior fellow students I would improve to be better.