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Our class, of all sizes and ages, has twice as many men than women.
One of my teachers, David Klug, who’s been teaching tai chi since 1989, insists: “The hardest people to train are dancers, because tai chi really gets interesting when you forget about what you look like, and start to notice how you feel.” The teachings cherish stability, balance and power over grace, and Klug is encouraging me to be “dumpier, like a sack of potatoes”.
“It gives you a high like nothing else.” I’d agree with that. Tai chi essentials Tai chi gently twists and elongates tissues that have become tense or suffered physical trauma.
Standing in White Crane position this morning in the park (tai chi is best outdoors), I would almost have said I was on top of the world. It also opens the body to release the central nervous system.
But when you relax your body and begin this careful twisting motion, you stretch out the fibres in the tissues. You release the nerves at a deeper level.” Looking for other recovery stories, I was invited to attend a workshop by tai chi master Tony Hardiman at the Chi Clinic in Cheam, Surrey.
Now 51 and “more flexible and in better condition than before the accident”, he gives seminars and classes all over the world.
But the numbers of people practising tai chi in the UK are tiny compared with those doing yoga.
The reason often cited is that it’s harder; some say it’s more like taking up an instrument than an aerobics class.
Talking to family and friends, I’ve noticed there are still broad misconceptions about tai chi in this country.
Not least that it’s an elegant, feminine and slightly useless martial art, reserved for the elderly.