In Tai Chi, balance and flexibility are improved with regular training and correct teaching. Many scientific studies worldwide have now confirmed these benefits. The Golden Lion Academy offers regular specialised sessions in the correct ways to improve balance and flexibility so that the benefits can be enjoyed by all, long term. A report on the latest session follows below.
Thirty students participated in a Balance and Flexibility Workshop on Sunday the 25th of June at our Rowville Training Centre.
Commencing at 9:30 am and finishing around 1:00 pm, the session was led, much to our delight, by Si Gung Charles Tsui-Po and Sifu Christine Everett [Chrissie].
The enthusiastic group comprised a mix of beginners and advanced members from both our Kung Fu and Tai Chi classes, drawn from across all our three centres. We had all gathered on a very chilly, overcast morning with the express purpose of enhancing our practice by improving our balance, flexibility, movement and general practice.
How did the morning unfold?
To start the tai chi balance flexibility session, SiGung Charles provided a summary of the salient Do’s and Don’ts for stretching including:
- Best to stretch daily when you are warm e.g. after exercise, having a shower
- Hold the stretch for 20 to 30 seconds and then repeat 2 to 4 times
- Use a stop watch to time the stretch to ensure accuracy
- Know and practice the correct method and technique to avoid discomfort or injury
- Stretch slowly, don’t hold your breath and don’t force the stretch
After a brief warm-up, we worked with a partner to measure the 4 stretch assessment tasks below:
- Seated Hamstrings Stretch – Touch Toes
- Seated Adductors Stretch – Touch Floor
- Assisted Hamstrings – Vertical Leg [use a stick]
- Balance and hold leg on a chair
We were given a record sheet with a view to measuring and recording our stretch scores, before and after activity, over a 10 week period. Sigung Charles would collect our record sheets at the end of this period to hopefully see an improvement in our flexibility. With this in mind, we focused intently on the tasks and were surprised at the end of the workshop by some of our pre and post activity results.
Once we completed our measuring, we gathered again as a large group. Sigung and Sifu then guided and encouraged us through a range of stretches, both individually and with our partner. We were advised and motivated to use correct form and technique to maximize the stretch and to avoid injury. All were amazed at our teacher’s flexibility!
Mid-session the group broke for morning tea, which gave us the opportunity to meet members from other centres and to get to know students from our home base. All agreed that Sifu Chrissie’s chocolate treats were not only delicious but healthy!!! Thanks Chrissie for timely sustenance.
Once we were “fed and watered” we focused on balance, particularly the 6 form balance routine which we could do at home, the supermarket – anywhere! Some folk successfully managed to do the advanced moves – the “aeroplane” and the “dancer” – well done!
The important points included:
- Identify and be aware of our weaknesses which impact our balance
- Focus on a point to steady one self and understand how you distribute your weight
At the end of the workshop, we split into two groups so that participants could focus more on improving their balance or advancing their stretches.
The tai chi balance flexibility workshop was very enjoyable, challenging and informative. Many thanks to Sigung Charles and Sifu Christine for leading a very worthwhile experience and sharing their knowledge of ways for improving our practice. Special highlights for us – Sigung Charles standing on one leg to undo and tie his shoelace and Sifu Christine’s impressive wall stretch!!
So the next time a workshop is announced and you find yourself wondering “am I going to embarrass myself by not being able to keep up with the others”, or, “I have been doing tai chi or kung fu for many years, so I don’t need to do a workshop – what can they cover that I don’t already know?” The answer is definitely no and yes. If you want to get the most out of your tai chi and kung fu, then workshops provide the opportunity to go behind the practice to give you the additional or enhanced skills to do exactly this.
Gail Ellis and Karin Madgwick
[Berwick Wednesday Morning Group]