Tai chi im­proves fo­cus

Tai chi helps in­jured man re­gain his men­tal fo­cus

Central and North Burnett Times - - SPORT - Jack Lawrie jack.lawrie@cnbtimes.com.au

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

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