Q: How has tai chi helped you find balance in your weight-loss journey?
I’ve been practicing tai chi for 25 years, which is five more than I’ve been in TOPS. The art of tai chi helps you learn how to control your body. The slow, controlled movements build muscle over time. It’s not a fast-paced exercise, but you can lose weight—as long as you’re moving. I lost over 30 pounds and have kept it off for five years.
Q: What are your classes like?
I teach Yang 108 Long Form for all levels and beginners. This common form has 108 moves, but I like to think of it as one continual move with 108 parts. It builds strength in your legs and increases balance. It’s fun!
Most of my current students are over the age of 50. I have a 92-year-old couple who have been coming to my classes for years. You’re never too old or too heavy to start practicing. Take me, for example, I was 66 when I took my first class. Healthcare professionals sometimes refer their patients to me when patients are having balance issues. One of them can now walk around her yard without her walker!
Q: How has tai chi impacted your life?
Most people start to lose strength in their legs by cutting back on exercise as they grow older, but a regular tai chi practice helps build strength and balance. In 2010, I fractured my back. My back might have broken, but my legs were strong. It was a very long year of recovery, but what could have been catastrophic wasn’t because of my overall strength. Now I have to use a cane to walk, but it’s funny, I don’t need it at all when I’m practicing tai chi.
Q: I see your shirt says, “World Tai Chi Day.” Can you talk a bit about that?
On the last Saturday in April, tai chi groups all over the world practice at 10 a.m. for at least one hour. As groups practice, the energy passes from one time zone to the next and continues to build. It’s an incredibly uplifting experience.
Q: Last but certainly not least, let’s talk about the knife.
The broad knife is only sharp on one side and is actually incredibly light. The significance of the knife is self-control. Using the knife during a practice helps with mind/body coordination. If the mind forgets, the body remembers.
Training with the tai chi broad knife started as protection. Many people don’t realize that tai chi is a defensive martial art. Each move has a defensive application that was passed down by generations.