Black belt in karate flows into a passion for Tai Chi
It was 19 years ago when Dekie Hicks was learning the proper kicking, punching and blocking techniques in her journey to earn her black belt in karate. She achieved that goal in April 2002. But it was the introduction to another martial art in 1998 that would become a lifelong passion.
“I had read an article about Tai Chi and one day I saw the sign for Tai Chi classes,” Hicks said. “I said I’m going to try it. I remember thinking, wow — that sounds interesting.”
She started studying Tai Chi under the direction of Master Weyland Billingsley in Rome and eventually started teaching classes at the senior citizen center at Etowah Park.
“The opportunity to teach came at a time when Tai Chi was getting a lot of publicity,” Hicks said. “I knew I wanted to keep Tai Chi in my life.”
“I knew that if I wanted to stay motivated, I needed to do something,” she said. “Teaching was my motivation. The senior center was looking for a Tai Chi instructor and I said, ‘I can do that.’ I just took the plunge. It is something that makes me accountable for my own practice.”
In 2009, Hicks started teaching Tai Chi classes at the Rome YMCA.
Tai Chi, also called Tai Chi Chuan, is an ancient Chinese martial art wherein its practitioners perform different combinations of defensive movements in a slow, graceful and focused manner.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Tai Chi movements are low impact and are accompanied by deep breathing. Physical exercise and stretching combine in various Dekie Hicks demonstrates push-brush knee from Tai Chi.
postures which flow into each other without stopping, ensuring the body is constantly moving.
“It is a martial art,” Hicks said. “You are mimicking fighting an opponent.”
She does not teach Tai Chi as a martial art for defense, but she does go over this ancient aspect with her students.
Hicks, who is 55 years old, says that Tai Chi is an exercise most seniors can do.
“It’s much kinder to one’s body as one ages,” Hicks said. “I call it karate Contributed photo
for old people. … It is gentle, but it’s a good workout. It does require strength to move slowly.”
She teaches a class for more advanced Tai Chi students every Monday at the YMCA from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Her class for students who are beginners or who are at an intermediate level meets on Wednesdays from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Her students typically range in age from 50 to 80. They also vary widely in their abilities.