Student testimonials Tai Chi for Health and Self Defence

By Heather D

Q1) How long have you been studying Tai Chi?
About 3.5 years

Q2) How did you get interested in Tai Chi and was it what you expected at first?
I wanted to do an exercise which also required mental application and Tai Chi certainly requires focus and thoughtfulness.

At first it was much harder than I expected. The sequences shown seemed easy to follow when they were demonstrated but I found them hard to remember. What I liked, at the beginning particularly, was that none of that mattered. The class was very pleasant, and it was nice to participate in something which took your mind off everyday problems and was completely non-judgemental. Kam is a very patient teacher and will show and demonstrate different moves over and over. So, I never felt anxious that I could not do it first time but instead enjoyed trying to get the moves right and in the correct order.

Q3) What is the most difficult part of training and what benefits have you gained from Tai Chi?
I study both the Yang and Chen forms of Tai Chi. The hardest part of training for both is the acceptance that you are on a journey and that perseverance and practice will pay off. In both classes I have not been quick to watch and then remember the sequences but I still get a feeling of peace and harmony when I am in the class. I enjoy trying! I like the feeling of being with others although the Tai Chi is an individual pursuit. And everyone in every class is friendly and supportive so the atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming.

Q4) What advice would you give to beginners?
Be patient! Tai Chi rewards those who invest in it so don’t expect instant results or immediate mastery. It takes a lot of patience to learn the moves. Be prepared to just follow along and trust that Kam is teaching in the easiest way for the beginner to learn. At first it seems strange that the moves are taught so you are following Kam, not looking at him facing you. We all protest and say we cannot see properly but, learning that way will help you get it right. Also, be prepared to enjoy the serenity of the class. There is always a lovely atmosphere, and everyone just does their best, which is always good enough! As an interest it will keep you fit, help with balance and memory, and become a serious hobby! And you never stop learning so it remains stimulating and interesting.

By Debbie Mc

Q1) How long have you been studying Tai Chi?
I have been studying Tai Chi for approx 12 years with Master Lau.

Q2) How did you get interested in Tai Chi and was it what you expected at first?
My first experience of Tai Chi was many years ago. I studied the Simplified form at the Chinese Pagoda in Liverpool. During breaks we had Chinese tea and the teacher helped us to appreciate the different types. We worked through the form to music composed by the teacher's husband which just mesmerised me. I became fascinated by Tai Chi and aspects of Chinese culture and history.

Q3) What is the most difficult part of training and what benefits have you gained from Tai Chi?
I think we expect results fast and its not like that, you have to be patient. Learning Tai Chi is like a long journey which doesnt go at the same speed but you have bursts when you feel like you are improving and parts when your progress slows down but it is so stimulating because there is always something to improve on and learn. Tai Chi has a stabilising effect on my life and carries me through my busy life, providing constancy and interest.

Q4) What advice would you give to beginners?
Be patient. Enjoy it as it is very enriching. Don't expect to be able to remember all of the sequences, Tai Chi is very different from Western types of exercise and you need to bear that in mind. Listen carefully and take the advice of the teachers who are very experienced and helpful.

Q5) How did you get interested in self defence and push hands and what benefits have you gained from it?
I did Jiujitsu when I was a teenager and regreted giving it up. I tried the school's self defence class after doing Tai Chi with Kam for a few years. After having one class I was hooked. I also love doing weapons and particularly like the sword forms and would like to reach a good level.

Tai chi is not only good for your joints and co-ordination but when you do the self defence and push hands you realise how good it is for mental concentration. I enjoy learning about how the form movements can be applied to self defence. Having to respond to an opponent quickly, improves your thinking skills. The discipline of martial arts is also something I need because I can be quite unruly!

By Kath F

Q1) How long have you been studying self defence?
I have been practising tai chi for many years but had very little experience of self defence or push hands. I asked Kam if I could join his self defence class after studying with him for about a year. I have been training with him now for a couple of years

Q2) How did you get interested in self defence and was it what you expected at first?
I felt as though my tai chi practice would improve if I started to attend self defence classes, and this was the main reason that I wanted to join the classes. At first I found it difficult to absorb the instructions and see what was going on. But I am quite determined and motivated so I continued with my training and the format of the classes and techniques became more familiar as time progressed. However I still feel very much a beginner and I don't think that I would be able to defend myself against an attacker just yet, but even as a beginner I think that the self defence training would give me more confidence in a confrontational situation.

Q3) What is the most difficult part of training?
The most difficult part of the training is to follow and remember the instructions! As with Tai Chi your feet and hands have to be co-ordinated and in the right place at the right time.

Q4) What benefits have you gained from self defence?
I have found many benefits from my practice, both mentally and physically.

Mentally, I think this training helps to make you more resilient and have greater confidence in everyday life. This means that you can grow as a person and not take yourself too seriously. Also everyone in the group is positive and supportive and wants to help you learn, it is a lovely friendly environment. The self defence practice also helps with stress relief and focus because you need to be mentally fully present in the class.

Physically the benefits are much the same as the Tai Chi class, except more intense. I would say that it helps with my co-ordination, balance, flexibility, stamina and strength.

Kam often states that ' you must remain relaxed no matter what. ' I would very happy if I was able to achieve this!

Q5) What advice would you give to beginners?
I would say to beginners that they should give it a go. Kam is a kind, talented and knowledgeable teacher and the classes are fun and light-hearted. I think it is important to not expect too much too soon and to be patient with yourself.