Tai Chi an­niver­sary

Matamata Chronicle - - Golden Age - By NI­COLA STE­WART ni­cola.ste­wart@wrcn.co.nz

The Mata­mata Taoist Tai Chi So­ci­ety is near­ing a ma­jor mile­stone and past mem­bers are in­vited to help mark the oc­ca­sion.

Started in 1993 by lo­cals Nel­lie Joe and Nan Christo­phers, the Mata­mata so­ci­ety will reach 20 years in April.

Cel­e­bra­tions will in­clude a Taoist work­shop with ex­pe­ri­enced in­struc­tors, fol­lowed by a five-course ban­quet on April 11.

Mem­ber Jill Fletcher said the so­ci­ety would like to see past and present mem­bers come to­gether for the day.

‘‘It would be great for some of the past mem­bers to come and share their ex­pe­ri­ences and sto­ries,’’ she said.

Taoist Tai Chi was cre­ated in Toronto, Canada, in 1970 by Master Moy Lin-Shin and came to New Zealand in 1990.

Nel­lie Joe first started prac­tis­ing Tai Chi at home af­ter her son Dr Steven Joe sug­gested it could help with her os­teo­poro­sis.

‘‘He said to me, ‘Mum if you don’t do some­thing about it you’re go­ing to end up in a wheel­chair.’

‘‘So he started do­ing Tai Chi with me. He used to come over ev­ery night to make sure I was do­ing it.’’

Health ben­e­fits of Tai Chi can in­clude im­proved cir­cu­la­tion, bal­ance and pos­ture; in­creased strength and flex­i­bil­ity; and re­duced stress. It can be par­tic­u­larly help­ful to the el­derly.

With reg­u­lar prac­tice it is even thought to re­duce the risk of heart disease, high blood pres­sure, arthri­tis and de­pres­sion.

In 1993 a Tai Chi group from Tau­ranga came to Mata­mata to give a demon­stra­tion and classes started soon af­ter.

Sev­eral Tau­ranga in­struc­tors would travel to Mata­mata each week to teach in­ter­ested begin­ners the art of Taoist Tai Chi.

This in­volved learn­ing the se­quence of 108 moves known as The Set.

Af­ter two years, Nel­lie Joe qual­i­fied as an in­struc­tor and she con­tin­ued to teach Tai Chi in Mata­mata for 15 years.

The so­ci­ety main­tained a steady mem­ber­ship of 40 to 50 and to­day has 45 mem­bers, many of whom are well into their eight­ies.

Pres­i­dent Ross Sains­bury said Taoist Tai Chi was learnt through rep­e­ti­tion and the so­ci­ety had a class for begin­ners on Mon­day evenings.

They also had two prac­tice classes on Tues­day and Fri­day morn­ings and a con­tin­u­ing class, for more ex­pe­ri­enced mem­bers, on Wed­nes­day evenings.

‘‘It’s a very gen­tle form of ex­er­cise ... in­volves a lot of stretch­ing,’’ he said.

Any­one in­ter­ested in learn­ing Tai Chi or at­tend­ing the cel­e­bra­tion ban­quet can con­tact Jill Fletcher on 880 9310.

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Flash­back: An ar­ti­cle pub­lished in the Mata­mata Chron­i­cle in 1994 cel­e­brat­ing the Mata­mata Taoist Tai Chi So­ci­ety’s first an­niver­sary.

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