*What is Tai Chi?
Tai Chi is a series of slow controlled movements which flow from one to another, making up a sequence which is called a ‘form’. It may appear to resemble a sort of dance, but its origins are in the Chinese martial arts. Hundreds of years ago martial arts practitioners adapted the movements to serve as a daily exercise regime. Tai Chi’s full name is ‘Tai Chi Chuan’, not to be confused with ‘Tai Chi Qigong’ witch is a Qigong practice.
*Will I have to get down on the floor?
No. All the movements are done standing, and mostly involve moving about as well.
*I’m not very steady on my feet these days – do I have to stand on one leg?
No. Although many of the forms include moves where one leg is raised, you will definitely not be expected to risk falling over. The unsteady student can simply replace that bit of the move with a ‘heel or toe touch’ and then continue with the sequence as before.
*I find I don’t have a great deal of energy to spare – how physically demanding is it?
It’s very gentle. The emphasis is on working within your capabilities and not stressing any muscles, ligaments or joints in any way. Breathing and posture are also very important.
*Does it matter how old I am?
Not at all. Age is no barrier to learning Tai Chi.
*How do I pay?
Per term, by a single cash, cheque or BACS payment when enrolling.
*I am on a limited income – can I pay for each lesson as I go along?
No. Most of the costs of the classes have to be met at the beginning, so lesson-by-lesson payments, being erratic and unreliable, mean higher charges. Therefore a full-term fee at the start actually keeps costs down.
*If I sign up for the whole term but decide I don’t like it after only a couple of lessons, what then?
Tai Chi is very different to most other forms of exercise, and it will probably feel rather strange at first – perhaps even a little off-putting. And it can take a while before the benefits start to be felt, as improvements tend to be gradual. We strongly advise new students to give themselves plenty of time to settle in, and so gain a bit of confidence, before giving it up – at least a term or preferably two.
*I have a pre-booked holiday that means I shall miss several lessons – can I have a refund for those sessions?
We run classes in a number of different places so unlike most weekly courses, missed lessons can be made up at the other classes at your convenience, in any of the weeks before or after your absence, but within that term. Think of the term fee as more of a ‘membership’, rather than a number of per-lesson charges added up.
*What if I’m not around for the first week or two of the first term?
Not a problem. Students can join at any time of the year.
*What should I wear?
Comfortable clothing – something roomy or stretchy, perhaps track suit or leggings and a loose top, plus trainers or soft shoes with a bit of grip, or just bare feet.
*Is tai chi a religion?
No, tai chi is not a religion. It is, at it’s origin, a martial art. Not all tai chi classes cover the martial arts aspect, some prefer to focus on the health aspect of it. Doctors and the NHS recommend tai chi as a health exercise.
*How long does it take to learn Tai Chi?
Well, how long is a piece of string? The time it takes to commit a sequence of moves to memory and learn to execute those moves in a reasonably competent manner will vary from person to person. The rate of progress will be directly influenced by the amount of practice done between lessons, just as with piano lessons. But speed of learning is really beside the point. Masters of the art would say that it is a life-long endeavour. As with learning a musical instrument, quality counts, and whilst it looks very simple, its grace and elegance belie its complexity and new students should not expect too much of themselves too quickly. And yearning for fast progress flies in the face of the core principle of Tai Chi: a stress-free mind and body.