My name is Rebecca and I’m 15 years old. I’ve enjoyed doing Chen style Tai Chi for almost 9 months and it is something I can look forward to every week.
So far I’ve learnt all of first form and am learning the fan form. Tai Chi helps me in a number of different ways. School is becoming increasingly stressful as I’m doing my GCSEs. Tai Chi has been the thing I can do to calm my mind and relax my body, whilst having fun. Also, it has helped me with balance, flexibility and strength. All the events and volunteer teaching I’ve had the experience to do has boosted my confidence. Not only that, it has helped me understand the movements a step further.
Finally, I’ll be doing Tai Chi for the rest of my life and learning as much as I can from it!
I started Tai Chi a year ago training with Lead Instructor Aileen Hamdan and occasionally with Lead Instructor Aaron Whitaker.
Four years ago I retired and stopped working, I am now in my late 60s. During the last years previous to my retirement from a very demanding job, I experienced a considerable amount of stress causing anxiety and disrupted sleep patterns. This eased slightly the first two years of retirement but eventually problems with sleep returned leading to progressive tiredness.
At the very beginning of my Tai Chi training I felt tired with joints aching everywhere but after about a month I started feeling more energetic. Since the beginning of September 2015, I was able to join two more classes to top up my training. My sleep has improved to the extent that I now rarely have uninterrupted sleep and when I do, I can go back to sleep straightaway. My breathing and posture are improving too and I cannot remember when my energy level had been as high as at present.
Tai Chi is so wonderful because anybody at any age can join and feel the benefits both mentally and physically. The slow movements and gentle exercises can be adapted to one’s physical requirements. That is why it is so good for the needs of the older generation who cannot withstand more strenuous physical activities, but equally for those who have a temporary or permanent physical disability.
I have become a volunteer after seeing all the instructors and volunteers dedicating their spare time to Dao Lu, a non-profit community interest company promoting this amazing art for the benefit of all sections of society. In particular I have been inspired by my Instructor Aileen in her incredible and ever increasing dedication in spreading the knowledge and promoting the practice of Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and other related form of arts.
I have personally truly benefited from Tai Chi and my future journey is to continue to practice and improve as well as dedicate my spare time, and with other volunteers and instructors, to help Dao Lu achieve its objectives.
I have been studying Tai Chi for three years with Aaron & Aileen as my teachers.
I feel that with Tai Chi I am slowly learning various new skills while exercising.
In three years I have achieved the yellow belt. I have almost learnt the fan dance, and I am learning the broad sword. You can’t imagine the satisfaction you get the first time you make the sword “sing” which I did for first time recently when thrusting it out – not bad for a woman of over 60! It is brilliant that there are several classes available to me locally at different times, and all at such a reasonable cost. I love exercising in the open air surrounded by trees and grass. Even in the midst of winter we exercise outdoors most of the time – you just need to wear lots of layers of clothes! I find exercising outdoors increases my sense of wellbeing.
Tai Chi works for me on lots of different levels. First of all I would say that it increases my energy levels – I have been known to come back from class & then hoover my house top to bottom, as I’m buzzing with energy!
Secondly it has made me more confident. In class, we are encouraged to show others what we have learnt, so you learn to forget about being shy. Then you learn a bit of humility, when corrected, because there seems to be always another level of learning involved with Tai-Chi, be it posture or breathing or understanding the reason behind a certain movement.
Thirdly I like learning some self-defence moves – I feel that this is important for a woman of any age.
Finally I enjoy Tai Chi because I have made some new good friends at Dao Lu.
I volunteered to help run Dao Lu as a Director because I am full of admiration of dedication of my teachers Aaron and Aileen, who both work full-time and have a family life yet still find time to teach us. I felt it was pay-back time.
All of us have our own personal dragons to face. In my case, it’s taken me a lifetime to do so, and it’s Tai Chi that’s helped me to do it.
One of the first things I learned in life was that balance and co-ordination were not my thing. At school, gym lessons were a nightmare and most of the time I and a few others would be left at the back of the class doing very simple exercises while others climbed ropes and did back flips. As an adult, things didn’t get any better. I got used to living with two left feet.
So when I saw the information about the new Tai Chi for Over 50s group in January 2013 I decided to face my fears and have a go. Thanks to the supportive, friendly group and wonderful teachers, who make us believe in our ability to succeed. I’m still attending every week, loving it and making progress – slowly, at my own pace. I still can’t tell my left from my right, but I’ve confronted my personal dragons and I’m not scared of them anymore.
A participant from Senior Tai Chi Corner
02 February 2014
Some years ago, someone with whom I was closely associated with professionally, told me of the enormous benefits he had experienced from taking up Tai Chi following a significant health scare. I was both intrigued and faintly sceptical at the time but had no time to pursue it because of heavy work commitments.
However, not long after I retired, I saw an advert for the Senior Dao Lu Corner. Still intrigued, I thought this must be a sign for me to have a go, so turned up one cold and snowy February Sunday in 2013.
My first surprise was that the professional associate who first introduced the idea to me turned out to be the tutor! This obviously helped me overcome initial uncertainty as I had been so impressed with his sincerity about his experience years before.
The next surprise was that other former professional associates were also practising ‘Dao Lus’!
But the best surprise was how much I felt I’d actually done something with my body despite the deceptively apparent gentleness and pace. The focus and concentration needed has also been a great brain workout without all the old pressures.
Having spent a lifetime being assessed and assessing others, one of the most significant enjoyments has been doing something purely for its own sake and being ‘in the moment’. However, pressure is a habit for better or worse so just maybe I’ll be persuaded to consider a grading in 2014!
A participant from Senior Tai Chi Corner
26 January 2014
My name is Jason Monero. I lost my sight when I was 11 years old because of a brain tumour which caused a number of other difficulties including weakness on one side. I am 19 now.
I became interested in Tai Chi when I attended a taster session, part of Give It A Go programme, at The Limes Children Centre two years ago. I enjoyed it very much as I have always wanted to do a form of martial arts. I decided to join a regular Saturday class at Dao Lu along with my mum and dad. My dad got his Tai Chi yellow sash in November 2013!
I recently joined Tai Chi Flow project and have been tirelessly promoting Tai Chi among people with visual impairment. On my college’s website, they put a web link on one of the performances that I took part with Dao Lu in June 2013. Tai Chi has helped me a great deal with my balance as well as strengthening my legs; I feel my confidence has also improved.
I am currently working towards my Tai Chi yellow sash grading in 2014 and very much looking forward to continuously improving my Tai Chi learning and my health and fitness level.
Note: Jason’s Tai Chi journey has inspired many people to be more active. His story is feature in the Give it a Go campaign programme on the London Sport North website.
When I started Tai Chi class in February 2013 I was too sick to work. I was looking for a way of improving my health and fitness but the thought of going to the gym or jogging around the park was too painful to contemplate. Tai Chi offered me a gentler way of introducing exercise without feeling pressurised or overworked. The movements are slow and deliberate but you still get a great workout. My health and balance has improved greatly and I’ve lost a stone and a half of weight.
The Dao Lu group is very special as the instructors are friendly and very patient if you forget the moves! The class atmosphere is relaxed yet focussed and gets me out of the house for the fresh air and the chance to socialise with the other students. It has now become my Sunday morning ritual.
It’s been 11 months since I participated in my first Sunday morning Tai Chi class and I am still enjoying the sessions as much as the first. The class has grown so large now that there are 2 groups – a 9am group consisting of the more experienced students, and a 10:15 group of beginners and newcomers.
Personally my balance, stamina, fitness and flexibility have all improved. Body movements which seemed difficult in February now come naturally. However I still work hard enough to raise a sweat by the end of the class, which is important when you are practicing in the open air!
In November it was my pleasure to take part in my first grading ceremony. I had to demonstrate First Form Tai Chi in front of all the Dao Lu leaders and students. I was nervous at first, but then I imagined my instructor’s voice in my head as I performed every move. I must say I was very pleased to achieve the yellow sash, medal and certificate when I passed the grading!
Since then I have moved on to learning Second Form Tai Chi which incorporates more exciting and challenging moves! I look forward to 2014 and progressing my Tai Chi skills.
A participant from Senior Tai Chi Corner