Tai chi improves focus
Tai chi helps injured man regain his mental focus
TAI CHI: When Rohan Anger was injured in a vehicle accident back in 2005, his family feared the worst.
The 36-year-old, then in his mid-20s had his life turned upside down after running his car off the road while driving near Staatz Road.
Left with severe injuries in his arms and legs that hampered his motor skills, and cranial damage that affected his short-term memory, Mr Anger was left in need of constant care.
However, since joining the Monto tai chi group this year, things have started looking up for him.
“I just heard from a few people, they said it’s not going to hurt me while I’m still moving about,” he said.
“It’s getting easier, going with the flow.”
Mr Anger’s mother Angelika, a nurse and primary carer, said his mental state, which had shown signs of early dementia, had improved.
“His short-term memory was shot to pieces but he’s undergone little improvements from doing the tai chi,” she said.
“He switches on the day he goes, then comes back more focused.
“Everybody has supported him, they’ve made him feel welcome.”
Mr Anger has become a popular member of the group.
He and his accompanying Blue Care worker are the youngest in the group of predominately over-50s.
Jeannie Wood has spent much time helping him with exercises.
“At first he was just standing there and didn’t know what to do or where to go, so I helped him out; I’ve worked with Blue Care,” Ms Wood said.
Tai chi allows for flexibility of movement and co-ordination of the mind.
Group instructor Peter Jamieson said he had tried to innovate the lessons in the more than 10 years he has taken the sessions.
To that end, he and his wife Mary recently travelled to China for a study tour with Qigong Master Simon Blow.
A martial artist of many years, Mr Jamieson saw the trip as a once-in-a-lifetime chance.
“I had a fair bit of time to think about it, and I just think it was fantastic,” he said.
The September trip had them studying at Shanghai Qigong Research Institute, learning the practice of Liu He Gong, also known as the Six Unity Exercise.
“We used to get up every morning and do our Qigong exercises, and then go to the institute to learn the exercises,” Mrs Jamieson said.
Mrs Jamieson, who previously studied under Mr Blow said qigong practices could be integrated into the tai chi lessons.
“Qigong is all about internal energy, whereas tai chi is more external, getting
into fighting and whatnot,” she said.
“It’s a health movement for keeping the tendons, muscles, sinews, everything flexible, which I reckon is really going to improve the brain as well.”
Mr Jamieson has already begun implementing these qigong practices into the tai chi classes back in Monto.
Some of the newer lessons involve exercises designed to balance brain co-ordination, which has helped people such as young Mr Anger to stay mentally resilient.
“He’s taken to it like a duck to water,” Mr Jamieson said.
“All the exercises are like patterns in martial arts, which in my case I’ve had to come up with hundreds of different ones.
“It’s like how my wife stays mentally active using crosswords; if you use your brain, you won’t lose it.”
His short-term memory was shot to pieces but he’s undergone little improvements...
— Angelika Anger
Olive Spencer doing shibashi warm-ups with the rest of the group.
Teacher Peter Jamieson with a scroll from he and his wife’s trip to China.
Newcomer Lumi Croitory has already become a firm lover of tai chi.
REGAINING LIFE: Rohan Anger took to tai chi to improve his mobility and mental condition damaged in a car accident 10 years ago, and has already shown major improvement. PHOTOS: JACK LAWRIE