My interest in this ancient art was aroused some four years ago when I visited the cities of Hong Kong and Beijing. I became enthralled with the morning ritual of countless locals of all ages as they practiced their form with grace, rhythm and a concentration that was born of many years of practice. In comparison my conventional Western jogging programme seemed cumbersome, uncoordinated and stress inducing. I could only stand and watch in wonderment. This was clearly something invigorating, much loved and totally captivating. I needed to know more.
Back in New Zealand I attempted to learn about tai chi. However my readings soon made me realise I needed help to begin to understand this traditional Chinese art. With the aid of a friend I found Sing Ong Tai Chi in 2003.
I entered a new world, different from anything in my previous experience. Tai chi was more than simple exercise; tai chi was complex, tai chi was challenging. I soon realised that if I was to learn the form correctly I must first master two sets of relaxing exercises yet even these simple looking exercises were sophisticated and exacting. In spite of this I was hooked.
The sophistication of the correct execution of the exercises poses a challenge I cannot resist. As I watch my fellow students I am encouraged to practice more. I enjoy the company of classmates as we all meet our individual challenges. The example set by our teachers and Professor Yek is inspirational. I appreciate fine teachers who teach because they love the art that they pass on. I think they teach because they believe that to practice tai chi is to share tai chi.
I now realise that no one completes learning tai chi. We are all in a state of learning, developing
and refining our practice. I now understand that the simple principles apply to the simplest of
movement and are applicable in all aspects of our life. I am encouraged by the knowledge that
improvement is not only possible but also inevitable if lessons are learned and practice becomes a way of life.
The study of tai chi may be lifelong but the benefits do come relatively quickly. As a student of tai chi I have reduced stress, smoother movements and I am more relaxed in mind and body. I also feel privileged to share in the wisdom of a martial art that has inspired countless people for over a thousand years.
Early in 2005 I returned to Hong Kong. Each morning, very early, I joined the throngs of people converging on Kowloon Park. I was no longer an observer. As the sky began to lighten, and the birds began to sing, people found their favourite spot and together we practised the art of tai chi.