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Tai Chi - where East meets West

I'm sure you've seen a movie where elderly Japanese men and women do dance-like movements in the park... that's Tai Chi! They make it look super easy but in reality it's quite a brain teaser to learn those movements. In the beginning your hands might feel a little dumb, not knowing which way to go but once you get that lightbulb moment, it all starts to fit in place.

In traditional Japanese training, you're never actually taught. You just join in and copy and copy and copy for what might feel like forever until they start to actually teach you what the movements are all about. In the West, this style of teaching hasn't had much success. Apparently we're too nosey.. like we have too many questions and we want to know why and how - about every move. This is why Henk, the instructor, has adapted his Yang style classes to a more Western approach.

The 24 step form that you learn is still the core focus of the classes but the longer you're part of the class, you'll start to learn the techniques with input, in other words, you'll see why the move is done in the way that it's done. These types of movements will almost look like self defense, where you'll be grabbed and then by doing a simple technique, be able to come out of the situation.

Doing the classic form is super relaxing. Practicing this in my mind and in person helped me through my anxiety. When you're doing Tai Chi, you're not thinking of anything else. It's a great way to start the morning with a variety of slow, harmonious movements and laser focus reactions. There's two classes to choose from, Beginners or Advanced, so anyone can join. Tai Chi is a form of martial art but it's soft, almost meditation-like and it's a wonderful tool to improve your brain function, hand/eye coordination, balance and mobility.

The dance-like movements in the park isn't all that you learn in these classes though. Once you've learned the form you could practice it solo on the beach or in a beautiful forest to harmonize your body and mind. However, in class, you'll constantly learn more details and get in depth knowledge about each movement and then every now and again, come back to the basic form and practice that.

I've been doing Tai Chi for a few years now and I still learn something new in each class. On weekends I enjoy going some solo Tai Chi on the deck, soaking up some sun or testing my self defense moves with my very unsuspecting husband when I tell him to hold my arm.

Tai Chi has taught me a great sense of self awareness as well as mind-body focus and I think it's a great class to try. Just know that's it's not something you can just do a walk-in class for, you first have to learn from scratch - give it a month or two to really get into it - you'll see :)

PS Remember to bring socks!

For more info on the classes, WhatsApp Henk Liebenberg directly on 082 684 5626 and he can assist you with which class to start with.

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