Teach­ing tai chi in China

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - TWOCENTS - By Kathy De Leye

Icame to China in 2008 to study kung fu. I was prac­tic­ing kung fu in Bel­gium and came to China for the first time in 2007 to travel through the coun­try, which is home to this beau­ti­ful mar­tial art. I vis­ited tourist places, and I also went to Shaolin Tem­ple to see some real kung fu. Lit­tle did I know back then that my life would never be the same.

I stayed in Yang­shuo, Guangxi Zhuang Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion and learned from my kung fu teacher for two years. I had some money saved, so I was an English teacher part­time and fo­cused on learn­ing a lot of kung fu.

How­ever, af­ter two years, I started to hear more about tai chi and how it helps you cul­ti­vate your in­ter­nal en­ergy. I was in­trigued and found a good teacher to teach me Chen-style tai chi.

I started to prac­tice tai chi In 2010. I loved the slow, grace­ful move­ments, but also the mar­tial as­pect of it. Ev­ery move­ment rep­re­sents a self­de­fense tech­nique, and it is ac­tu­ally hard work. I prac­ticed re­ally hard and went to a cou­ple of com­pe­ti­tions.

In 2015, I moved to Shen­zhen and I started to teach tai chi to ex­pats that I met. Some peo­ple wanted to know a bit more about tai chi and be­cause I could speak English, they asked me to teach them. Lit­tle by lit­tle, I started to be known as the “tai chi mas­ter,” and peo­ple were tex­ting me to get in­for­ma­tion on my teach­ing sched­ule.

I am think­ing of start­ing a project to teach tai chi as a life­style - the move­ments, the his­tory and the phi­los­o­phy.

I never thought I could be a tai chi teacher in China.

When I tell Chi­nese peo­ple that I teach tai chi, the first re­ac­tion is al­most al­ways, “You are not old!” Ap­par­ently, for Chi­nese peo­ple, you have to be old to prac­tice tai chi. I al­ways say, “It’s be­cause I don’t want to be­come old that I prac­tice.” Tai chi helps bal­ance your body and mind and makes your body stronger and be­cause of that, you will not feel old as quickly.

I find it a shame that many young Chi­nese peo­ple do not want to prac­tice tai chi any­more. The new gen­er­a­tion is not putting much value on it. The West is dis­cov­er­ing an­cient Chi­nese phi­los­o­phy – Chi­nese medicine, arts and mar­tial arts. How­ever, in China they are be­com­ing less and less pop­u­lar. In the fu­ture, will West­ern­ers teach Chi­nese about their tra­di­tional cul­ture?

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