My first year of Tai Chi
by Michael Chee
About ten over years ago, I found that my joints had aching feeling easily, at the knees, ankles and back, especially when I stood up from a sitting position. So I thought body strengthening exercise should help. I joined California Fitness about seven years ago and was convinced that with proper strengthen of core muscles, it will hold up the body frame better. After taking some training from a trainer, the body indeed felt better and stronger. But the aching feeling at the joints has not improved.
Last May, I tried to pick up a new hobby in Tai Chi at California Fitness. I have to thank instructor Betty who was very patient with beginners. She was very meticulous in the teaching and I began to gain interest. But the environment is not conducive for beginners to learn Tai Chi, so I decided to join Rennie Chong Tai Chi Training Centre at Toa Payoh for some systematic training. It took 9 months before I finally learnt the full set of 37 Forms under the proper guidance of chief instructor Alvin. He stressed the importance of executing the correct moves. After a few months of training, I began to notice the benefits of Tai Chi. A first noticeable benefit is the reduction of the aching feeling on the knee and the ankle although the back and shoulder has not improved much.
As Tai Chi movement is slow and light, there is a natural tendency to practice just as a movement of legs and hands. Master Chong constantly reminded the class that to learn Tai Chi correctly, we must understand and learned it in a form of martial art. Thus the intention of the every move is important in the execution of every Form. With that intent, the execution of the Forms became more fluid. The mind was more conscious of the co-ordination of the hand, waist, and leg movement. The breathing and the moves became more co-coordinated after more practices. After a period of time, the body felt noticeably warmer. The aircon in my office was generally very cold but after learning Tai Chi, I was able to withstand the cold better than before. The other noticeable benefit was the stability of the stance. This was noticeable when standing in the MRT during the travel. While releasing the pressure at the hip (groin), the feel was good and the stance was firmer.
I wish to thank Master Chong for his dedication to teach the class in California Fitness. One year is a long time to learn, but in Tai Chi, this is a baby step.