Blindness no barrier to Tai Chi
An entrepreneurial Taranaki Tai Chi teacher is still achieving notable milestones after more than 35 years in the business.
After a life dedicated to helping others, Margaret Underwood is turning her considerable skills to teaching the blind to improve their balance, flexibility and ability to lead more active lives.
One of of her key aids in this is technology. Because she regularly travels to America and if her students don’t want to miss a class, she uses Skype to link to them.
Tai Chi is a gentle Chinese martial art that can be used to improve blood flow and help people to achieve a better balance and greater flexibility. It is a great aid in helping people prevent falls.
Underwood said teaching people who cannot see was a new and daunting task for her.
‘‘Normally when I work with sighted people they are able to watch what I do and replicate it. With the blind I have to find a way of letting them feel what I am doing.’’
She said she first became interested in Tai Chi when she learned about it from a Jesuit Seminary dropout. ‘‘He persuaded me on its values and when I travel to Argentina I met a Chinese master who was able to continue my education over 10 years,’’ she said. ‘‘My master was a former general in the army of Taiwan liberator Chiang Kai-Shek.’’
She returned to Taranaki and in 1985 started teaching Tai Chi in
‘‘I have to find a way of letting them feel what I am doing’’ Margaret Underwood
the Val Deakin Dance building in St Aubyn St.
Because of her travel bug and interests in America, she has a class of 70 to 90-year-old people in California.
Underwood said many people were unaware of the importance of stimulating the bone structures in the middle. These generate brain activity but require movement to do this. That is why so many hyperactive students are treated the wrong way when they made to sit down and be calm.
This is the first time that Underwood has worked with blind people and she is finding it a demanding but very rewarding business. People wanting to enroll in her classes should call the Blind Foundation rooms in New Plymouth on ENTER PHONE NUMBER.
Tai Chi will be one of the fall prevention techniques discussed at a seminar in the council chambers on Saturday, February 17.
Lance Girling-Butcher gets instruction from Tai Chi Margaret Underwood.