Tai Chi - A holistic approach to life

The slow movements of the Tai Chi form helped me deal with a very stressful time in my life. Learning the Tai Chi postures correctly helped improve my physical complaints of joint pain and digestive discomfort and became an incentive for regular practice. Originally from the United States, I came to Ireland in 1976 because of a love of travelling and playing traditional Irish music.

When I started Tai Chi Chuan, I had a number of sports injury related problems, which I'd acquired from gymnastics, and some inherited problems related to minor digestive ailments. I had some previous experience in Karate but I was amazed at the martial arts potential of the Tai Chi movements whose potent power was generated from the internal dynamics of Qi (energy) rather than physical force. The Tai Chi Chuan movements were developed to improve the generation and circulation of Qi and thus improve health. The slow movements promote relaxation of Mind/Body/Spirit. I have found that applying these principles and techniques to my daily activities makes me better able to deal with the exigencies of these stressful times.  I am better focused, more tolerant and relaxed and feel better overall with regular training. As I get older, I find that integrating Tai Chi Chuan movements and principles into my daily life has allowed me to make adjustments to accommodate the usual problems associated with ageing. 

My old joint injuries from gymnastics have improved because my body mechanics are more efficient, and a better physical structure has all but alleviated my original digestive complaints. The impact on my life and well-being was so profound that I decided to become an instructor under the tuition of Master John Ding, which felt like I was unlocking limitless possibilities of my own potential.

On a wider scale, the global recession has elevated stress levels for everyone. Stress-related tension impacts people at work, at home and in their free time, leading to a lower quality of life, difficult relationships and poor health. People are turning to traditional wellness practices to relieve their stress, maintain good health and prevent illness. People become interested in Tai Chi Chuan for many reasons…as a healthy exercise, social activity, relaxation, sport, martial art, etc.  By participating in Tai Chi Chuan, people get to engage in all these activities, learn more about themselves and others and realize that there is a better way of experiencing life.

Demand for Tai Chi classes is at an all-time high in Ireland, and this has created real opportunities for good quality Tai Chi instructors. The Master Ding Academy been operating in Ireland since 1993 and has a team of instructors: five in Cork, five in Dublin and one in Maynooth. It is now introducing its first ever Open Instructor Training Programme for those outside the organisation who wish to develop/teach Tai Chi. As an Instructor, it is very satisfying to share knowledge with students and watch them grow and develop into healthier individuals.


About the author: 

Chris runs the Dún Laoghaire branch of the Master Ding Academy for Tai Chi Chuan.