Black Belt or Bust

Watching my Grandkids practice karate for the last few years was captivating. They picked it up so quickly and made it look easy. I contemplated taking lessons, but was a little concerned for my aging parts. I wasn’t confident that they would move quite the same way as the younger ones.

When I saw a beginners class for T’ai Chi offered in the Bayport Bluepoint Library, I signed up. It seemed that this program was geared for all ages. After completing the six classes, I signed up for another beginners class on the advice of the instructor.  The class is led by Jim Cummings, an expert in marshal arts, who has earned several black belts, including T’ai Chi.

He explained that there are many types of T’ai Chi methods and practices, with hundreds of poses.  The one that we were learning, comprises 24 movements, which are geared to optimizing health and breathing. The poses are fluid and done slowly to utilize all the body’s muscles. They are geared to exercise the body, reduce anxiety, reduce tension and to improve balance. That recipe was enough for me.

We were instructed to learn the names of the movements and the sequence. Though that sounded easy enough, the program challenged the mind and body. The warm up exercises or qigong are gentle but get the blood flowing and muscles awake. Each class focused on several movements, which we then added to the ones already learned.

Jim is an excellent teacher, who stressed that it is not how you do the movement, but that you move.  He said that it takes hundreds of hours of practice to become proficient.  However, it is an activity that you can get better at as you age and you can profit health wise right away. The classes have attracted people of all ages.  Each lesson is interlaced with wonderful pearls of body wisdom. I may never get out of the beginner’s class, but who knows?


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